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Durham University

Student Registry

No Detriment (2019/20)

Please note: this guidance relates primarily to the 2019-20 academic year; however, information is also available on the impact which the 2019/20 No Detriment policy will have on students graduating in 2020/21 and 2021/22 (e.g. students who were second years on a BA/BSc in 2019/20, or second/third years on an Integrated Master's programme). Relevant FAQs are highlighted below.

Updated guidance for supportive measures for 2020-21 is available via the Academic Safety Net webpages.

We recognise that this year assessments are being undertaken in very challenging circumstances. In response, we are adopting a range of measures to ensure that you are not disadvantaged. This includes changes to the way that we assess your work and exams, reviewing marks gained from assessment in light of the profile achieved by cohorts in previous years, and considering the application of cohort-wide SACs automatically (i.e. without requiring students to submit individual SACs due to Covid-19) for any affected assessment.  Alongside this, we are developing alternative, supportive approaches for students (for example, at Level 1, within the Foundation Programme etc) whose work is not classified.

On 5th May 2020, the University’s Senate approved an institution-wide No Detriment Policy. The No Detriment policy provides a safety net so that you can take your assessments this summer with confidence that if your marks are worse than those completed before the Covid-19 pandemic, it will not affect your degree classification.

The policy will work differently for different student groups (for example, continuing and graduating undergraduate students, taught postgraduate students etc.), will require you to pass all of your modules, and may need to be adapted in light of either specific requirements set by the Professional Bodies who accredit some individual programmes, and in circumstances where students on one-year programmes have completed a very small proportion of assessment prior to the start of the pandemic.

But, wherever possible, the key principle behind No Detriment will remain the same: as long as you pass your modules, assessments undertaken this summer can only raise (never lower) your AMW and classification.

The policy has been drafted by the University with feedback from the Students’ Union. It is explained in detail below, alongside a worked example showing the operation of No Detriment in practice.

These FAQs outline how the No Detriment policy worked for continuing students at Level 2/3 in 2019/20. As such, they explain what effect the 2019/20 No Detriment policy will have in 2020/21 (and 2021/22) for such students.

+How will No Detriment work?

Please see the worked examples for further informtion on how No Detriment will work in practice.

For Undergraduate and Integrated Masters Programmes

Under the No Detriment policy, we will produce two separate final degree AMW, and Boards of Examiners will use whichever is higher to determine your final degree class.

The first ‘default calculation’ will be calculated in the normal way. For a current BA or BSc student this means using all marks at Levels 2 and 3 (or 2, 3 and 4 for Integrated masters students), and weighting them by credit value and the year in which they were studied (as outlined in the Core Regulations for Undergraduate Study). The second ‘no detriment calculation’ will follow the same rules on weighting according to credits and year, but will exclude assessments affected by Covid-19.

Assessments due on or before 13th March 2020 will be included in the ‘no detriment calculation’. Assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded.

You will still need to pass your modules to graduate from your degree.

For Taught Postgraduate Programmes

Under the No Detriment policy, instead of requiring both an AMW of at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction) and a mark in the Major Project/Dissertation of at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction), Boards of Examiners will be asked to make Merit or Distinction awards for Masters programmes on the basis of the higher of either the AMW or the Dissertation/Major Project.

In addition, for all taught postgraduate programmes we will produce two separate final degree AMW, andBoards of Examiners will use whichever is higher when determining your final award as long as at least half of your credited assessments are included in the ‘no detriment calculation’ (e.g. at least 90 credits for an MA or MSc, 60 for a postgraduate diploma, or 30 for a postgraduate certificate).

Where less than half of the credit assessments are included, the No Detriment AMW will not be applied automatically even if higher than the ‘default’ AMW, but the Board of Examiners will consider it when making a classification decision, alongside the full spread of marks, and any group or individual SAC information as appropriate, as evidence of student performance.

The first ‘default calculation’ will be calculated in the normal way. For a current MA or MSc student this means using all marks, and weighting them by credit value (as outlined in the Core Regulations for Postgraduate Study). The second ‘no detriment calculation’ will follow the same rules on weighting according to credits and year, but will exclude assessments affected by Covid-19.

Assessments due on or before 13th March 2020 will be included in the ‘no detriment calculation’, alongside the mark for the Dissertation/Major Project. Other assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded.

You will still need to pass your modules to graduate from your degree.

+I am a continuing undergraduate/integrated masters student in my second or third year of study in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

As a second year on a three-year undergraduate programme, or second or third year on an integrated masters programme, your No Detriment AMW will not be calculated until you are due to graduate.

However, the calculation will work on the same principle as the calculation for current finalists: No Detriment will work as per the standard degree classification – with assessments weighted by level and credit, as outlined in your individual programme regulations – but with assessments completed during 2019/20 excluded if they were due on or after 14th March 2020.

Boards of Examiners will receive both your default AMW, and your No Detriment AMW, and will use whichever is higher to determine your degree classification. In practice, this means that your performance in your Covid19-affected assessments can only improve your overall degree classification.

As with all marks, your No Detriment AMW will be unconfirmed until reviewed and approved by the Board of Examiners after internal and external examiner consideration as necessary.

These FAQs relate to the operation of the No Detriment Policy in 2019/20.

+How are degrees at Durham classified?

At Durham, in common with other universities in the UK, an undergraduate or integrated masters degree is awarded on the basis of credits earned across either three or four years of full-time study (or part-time equivalent), and a taught postgraduate degree is awarded on the basis of credits earned across one year of full-time study (or part-time equivalent). Students need to pass all their modules (with a mark of 40% or more at undergraduate level, 50% or more postgraduate, though in some circumstances a lower mark can be ‘compensated’ so it still counts as a pass) to earn enough credit for a degree. 

Degrees are awarded by each department’s Board of Examiners in a student’s graduating year. The Board of Examiners is comprised of academic staff from the department, with one or more external examiners from other universities. The Board will review and confirm all assessment marks. The Board then looks at each student’s anonymised marks in turn, and at the arithmetic mean weighted mark (AMW), which is calculated automatically by the student records system. The AMW is based on all module marks from your second year onwards (or single year for postgraduate programmes), each weighted according to the number of credits the module is worth (so that, for instance, the mark for a 40-credit module has twice as much effect on the average as that for a 20-credit module at the same level), and by the year weighting for the year in which the module is taken:

  • on a three-year undergraduate programme, the weighting is 2:3 between Levels 2 and 3, so assessments completed during the second year will be weighted 40% and those in the third weighted 60% (marks from modules undertaken at Level 1 in the first year do not contribute to a student’s classification);
  • on a four-year integrated master’s programme, the weighting is 2:3:4 Between Levels 2, 3 and 4, so assessments completed during the second year will be weighted 22.22%, those in the third year 33.33% and those in the final year 44.44% (marks from modules undertaken at Level 1 in the first year do not contribute to a student’s classification);
  • on a taught postgraduate programme, the whole programme is set at Level 4 and assessments have no year weighting.  

Undergraduate and integrated masters degrees (e.g. BA, LLB, MPhys) are then ‘classified’ by the Board. Students with an AMW of 70 or higher are awarded a First, 60 or higher a 2:1 and so on.

Postgraduate taught degrees are not classified, but can be awarded with Merit or Distinction where the AMW is at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction) and the mark for the Major Project/Dissertation is similarly at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction).

+How will No Detriment work?

Please see the worked examples for further informtion on how No Detriment will work in practice.

For Undergraduate and Integrated Masters Programmes

Under the No Detriment policy, we will produce two separate final degree AMW, and Boards of Examiners will use whichever is higher to determine your final degree class.

The first ‘default calculation’ will be calculated in the normal way. For a current BA or BSc student this means using all marks at Levels 2 and 3 (or 2, 3 and 4 for Integrated masters students), and weighting them by credit value and the year in which they were studied (as outlined in the Core Regulations for Undergraduate Study). The second ‘no detriment calculation’ will follow the same rules on weighting according to credits and year, but will exclude assessments affected by Covid-19.

Assessments due on or before 13th March 2020 will be included in the ‘no detriment calculation’. Assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded.

You will still need to pass your modules to graduate from your degree.

For Taught Postgraduate Programmes

Under the No Detriment policy, instead of requiring both an AMW of at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction) and a mark in the Major Project/Dissertation of at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction), Boards of Examiners will be asked to make Merit or Distinction awards for Masters programmes on the basis of the higher of either the AMW or the Dissertation/Major Project.

In addition, for all taught postgraduate programmes we will produce two separate final degree AMW, andBoards of Examiners will use whichever is higher when determining your final award as long as at least half of your credited assessments are included in the ‘no detriment calculation’ (e.g. at least 90 credits for an MA or MSc, 60 for a postgraduate diploma, or 30 for a postgraduate certificate).

Where less than half of the credit assessments are included, the No Detriment AMW will not be applied automatically even if higher than the ‘default’ AMW, but the Board of Examiners will consider it when making a classification decision, alongside the full spread of marks, and any group or individual SAC information as appropriate, as evidence of student performance.

The first ‘default calculation’ will be calculated in the normal way. For a current MA or MSc student this means using all marks, and weighting them by credit value (as outlined in the Core Regulations for Postgraduate Study). The second ‘no detriment calculation’ will follow the same rules on weighting according to credits and year, but will exclude assessments affected by Covid-19.

Assessments due on or before 13th March 2020 will be included in the ‘no detriment calculation’, alongside the mark for the Dissertation/Major Project. Other assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded.

You will still need to pass your modules to graduate from your degree.

+How will No Detriment work for my programme?

Each degree programme is different. You programme will have specific weightings for assessments and modules, and may have accreditation from a professional body. You can find out further information on your module and programme requirements by looking at your programme regulations in the Faculty Handbook.

In addition, we have outlined how No Detriment will work for students on different types of programmes below. For further information, please click on the relevant header.

+I am an undergraduate in my final year of study in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

As a finalist on a three-year undergraduate programme, your No Detriment AMW will be calculated from all assessments completed in your second year, and assessments due in your final year (2019/20) up to and including 13th March 2020. Assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded.

As with the standard degree calculation, your assessments will be weighted according to:

  • the year of study (each assessment undertaken during Level 2 is weighted 40%; each assessment undertaken during Level 3 is weighted 60%),
  • the assessment credit value (for example, an essay worth 25% of a 40-credit module is worth the equivalent of 10 credits).

As Covid19-affected assessments will be excluded, the total number of credits included in the calculation will be reduced. For example, the default or normal calculation will generate your AMW taking account of the 240 credits which you studied during Levels 2 and 3. However, if you had submitted 60 credits’ worth of final year assessments by the 13th March 2020, the No Detriment calculation would take account of 180 credits (the 120 credits which you studied at Level 2, plus the 60 credits you studied at Level 3 up until 13th March 2020). In practice, this means that each included assessment from Level 2 and 3 will contribute more to your No Detriment AMW than it does in your default or normal AMW. 

Boards of Examiners will receive both your default AMW, and your No Detriment AMW, and will use whichever is higher to determine your degree classification. In practice, this means that your performance in your Covid19-affected assessments can only improve your overall degree classification.

As with all marks, your No Detriment AMW will be confirmed by the Board of Examiners after internal and External Examiner consideration.

+I am an integrated masters student in my final year of study in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

As a finalist on a four-year Integrated masters programme, your No Detriment AMW will be calculated from all assessments completed in your second and third year, and assessments due in your final year (2019/20) up to and including 13th March 2020. Assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded.

As with the standard degree calculation, your assessments will be weighted according to:

  • the year of study (each assessment undertaken during Level 2 is weighted 22.22%; each assessment undertaken during Level 3 is weighted 33.33%; each assessment undertake during Level 4 is weighted 44.44%),
  • the assessment credit value (for example, an essay worth 25% of a 40-credit module is worth the equivalent of 10 credits).

As Covid19-affected assessments will be excluded, the total number of credits included in the calculation will be reduced. For example, the default or normal calculation will generate your AMW taking account of the 360 credits which you studied during Levels 2, 3 and 4. However, if you had submitted 60 credits’ worth of final year assessments by the 13th March 2020, the No Detriment calculation would take account of 300 credits (the 240 credits which you studied at Level 2 and 3, plus the 60 credits you studied at Level 4 up until 13th March 2020). In practice, this means that each included assessment from Levels 2, 3 and 4 will contribute more to your No Detriment AMW than it does in your default or normal AMW. 

Boards of Examiners will receive both your default AMW, and your No Detriment AMW, and will use whichever is higher to determine your degree classification. In practice, this means that your performance in your Covid19-affected assessments can only improve your overall degree classification.

As with all marks, your No Detriment AMW will be confirmed by the Board of Examiners after internal and External Examiner consideration.

+I am a postgraduate masters student in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

As a postgraduate masters student, the No Detriment policy means that a Merit or Distinction classification will be awarded by your Board of Examiners if you achieve either an AMW of at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction) or a mark in the Major Project/Dissertation of at least 60 (Merit) or 70 (Distinction).

In addition, you will have a No Detriment AMW calculated from all assessments due up to and including 13th March 2020, plus your dissertation or major project. Other assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded. We recognise that this may still be a relatively small amount of the total of your assessed work that will ultimately be considered, and therefore may not provide a robust basis for classification. For this reason,yourBoards of Examiners will automatically use whichever is higher when determining your final award as long as at least half of your credited assessments are included in the ‘no detriment calculation’ (e.g. at least 90 credits for most MA or MSc).

If fewer than half of your credited assessments are included in the ‘no detriment calculation’, then you will still have your No Detriment AMW referred to the Board of Examiners, where it will be considered alongside all other assessment information for the year so that the Board of Examiners can take account of any significant variations between performance across the year when making a final recommendation.

As with all marks, your No Detriment AMW will be unconfirmed until reviewed and approved by the Board of Examiners after internal and external examiner consideration as necessary.

+I am a postgraduate diploma or certificate student in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

As a postgraduate diploma or certificate student, your No Detriment AMW will be calculated from all assessments due up to and including 13th March 2020. Assessments due later in 2019-20 will be excluded. We recognise that this may still be a relatively small amount of the total of your assessed work that will ultimately be considered, and therefore may not provide a robust basis for classification. For this reason,your Boards of Examiners will automatically use whichever is higher when determining your final award as long as at least half of your credited assessments are included in the ‘no detriment calculation’ (e.g. at least 60 credits for most Postgraduate Diploma, at least 30 credits for most Postgraduate Certificate).

If fewer than half of your credited assessments are included in the ‘no detriment calculation’, then you will still have your No Detriment AMW referred to the Board of Examiners, where it will be considered alongside all other assessment information for the year so that the Board of Examiners can take account of any significant variations between performance across the year when making a final recommendation. 

As with all marks, your No Detriment AMW will be unconfirmed until reviewed and approved by the Board of Examiners after internal and external examiner consideration as necessary.

+I am a continuing undergraduate/integrated masters student in my second or third year of study in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

As a second year on a three-year undergraduate programme, or second or third year on an integrated masters programme, your No Detriment AMW will not be calculated until you are due to graduate.

However, the calculation will work on the same principle as the calculation for current finalists: No Detriment will work as per the standard degree classification – with assessments weighted by level and credit, as outlined in your individual programme regulations – but with assessments completed during 2019/20 excluded if they were due on or after 14th March 2020.

Boards of Examiners will receive both your default AMW, and your No Detriment AMW, and will use whichever is higher to determine your degree classification. In practice, this means that your performance in your Covid19-affected assessments can only improve your overall degree classification.

As with all marks, your No Detriment AMW will be unconfirmed until reviewed and approved by the Board of Examiners after internal and external examiner consideration as necessary.

+I am a part-time undergraduate/integrated masters student in 2019/20: will No Detriment work differently for me?

No. No Detriment will work on the same basis as for full time students.

+I am a Level 1 student in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

The No Detriment policy did not affect first year assessments because, while first year assessments play a critical role in enabling students to learn from their programme and demonstrate their ability to progress in the degree, they do not contribute to the classification of degrees. For students at Level 1, Durham is reviewing its approach to progression to take account of the effects of Covid-19.

In addition, we are also reviewing how we produce student transcripts, to ensure that we differentiate between Covid19-affected and unaffected marks.

+I am a Foundation Programme student on my Foundation Year in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

The No Detriment policy did not affect Foundation year assessments because, while Foundation year assessments play a critical role in enabling students to learn from their studies and demonstrate their ability to progress to their degree, they do not contribute to the classification of degrees. For Foundation programme students at Level 0, Durham is reviewing its approach to progression to take account of the effects of Covid-19.

In addition, we are also reviewing how we produce student transcripts to ensure that we differentiate between Covid19-affected and unaffected marks.

+I am an Erasmus or Overseas Exchange student in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

Different institutions will be taking different approaches to this global pandemic. If you are an Erasmus or Overseas Exchange student, the credit level towards your degree will be outlined in your home institution’s programme regulations, and your home institution will confirm the action they intend to take in response to Covid-19. As we are not awarding your degree, we will not produce a No Detriment degree classification for you.

However, your assessments will be subject to the same mitigations we are applying to all students (for example, amending assessment types in response to the pandemic, and reviewing marks in light of previous years) and, if the work you undertake at Durham does count towards your home institution degree, then we will differentiate between Covid19-affected and unaffected marks on your transcript.

+I am an undergraduate/integrated master's student on my year abroad/placement year in 2019/20: how will No Detriment work for me?

At Durham, the majority of our year abroad and placement year options do not contribute directly to your degree classification. Instead, they provide experience of the discipline in an international of work-based context, enable you to enhance key and subject-specific skills, and entitle you to a degree 'with year abroad' or 'with placement year' (or equivalent). The No Detriment policy will not affect your time on placement directly; instead we have taken steps to ensure that you will still be entitled to your 'year abroad' or 'with placement' degree, even if your experience was disrupted by Covid-19.

+Do the upcoming online assessment marks still count towards my AMW and classification?

Yes. Upcoming online assessments will still count towards your default final AMW and degree classification.

+Do I need to pass my modules?

Yes, to ensure you meet the learning outcomes for your programme, you will still need to meet normal requirements for passing modules.

+Does the No Detriment calculation include formative marks?

No. The No Detriment calculation will only include marks which would ordinarily be included in your degree classification. This means that marks for formative work, or for modules taken during Level 1 of an undergraduate or integrated masters programme, will not be included.

+What will happen for programmes which are Accredited by Regulatory or Professional or Statutory Bodies (PSRBs)?

We recognise that there are a number of programmes with professional accreditation, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, where the requirements of the relevant accrediting bodies may mean that we are not able to apply the No Detriment policy, or not apply it in full. In such cases, the University will work with the relevant department(s) to support them in trying to secure an acceptable approach for the relevant accrediting bodies.

+What will happen with programmes delivered with partner organisations?

We worked directly with our partner organisations to determine how the No Detriment policy should be applied.

+How will marks gained in 2019-20 appear on my academic transcript?

As agreed with the Students' Union, academic transcripts will display marks gained by students, and will include an additional statement that "Marks awarded for modules taken in the 2019/20 Academic Year may have been negatively affected by the disruption caused by the COVID19 global pandemic" in recognition of the particular challenges which students faced in 2019-20.

+I am a finalist in 2019/20, when will I know what my No Detriment final mark is?

In 2019-20, departments are confirming which individual assessments were Covid-19 affected, and student records systems were then be updated to ensure that information was available for the Summer and Autumn departmental Board of Examiners meetings which lassified degrees. Boards of Examiners confirmed the No Detriment final mark at that point.