University College Birmingham Dissertation Handbook

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University College Birmingham Dissertation Handbook

The Purpose of Assessment

Over your programme of study you will be assessed using a variety of techniques. Assessment plays a significant role in your learning experience. It aims to:

  • measure the outcome of your learning, in terms of the knowledge you have acquired, your understanding of a particular subject area and the skills you have gained;
  • provide you with feedback on your progress which will assist you in improving your performance;
  • enable the module lecturers and programme managers to monitor your progress and the quality of the programme in general.

Types of Assessment

Typically, module assessments involve coursework of various kinds, tests and examinations. Lecturing staff may, at their discretion, and within reason, modify the method of assessment to allow achievement of the learning outcomes in cases where a student has an identified learning need. All modules contain assessment in a form which is designed to guarantee that the work you produce is your own, unless it involves a team activity, in which case the extent you are allowed to collaborate and collude will be directed by your lecturer. The assessment should enable you to develop your knowledge base of a particular industry or vocational context and a range of subject specific skills and graduate attributes.

An outline of each module’s assessment(s) will be provided by the module lecturer at the start of the teaching programme.

Assignments and How to Submit them

Students must complete a range of coursework as part of their programme; essays, reports, team-work and case studies are all types of coursework. We usually call written coursework which is formally assessed ‘assignments’.

Assignments are normally launched during lecture periods. You may need to submit your work electronically via Turnitin, for which you should follow the submission guidance on your assignment. You MUST ensure your assignment has been submitted to the correct area on Turnitin. Alternatively, your lecturer may direct you to the Assignment Tracking System (ATS) using a 3-box code to access a frontispiece to attach to your work. Input this code when you access ATS. Students who are not present when the assignment is handed out are responsible for downloading it from UCB Online.

Some assignments are submitted via ATS and must be submitted to the Resource Centre on the Ground Floor at Summer Row during the designated period. You must ensure that you leave ample time to submit your assignment. No assignment will be accepted without the correct frontispiece; this is to ensure that your work goes to the right person and that your affairs are safeguarded. Your assignment tutor will advise on the process of e-submission if it is required.

Late assignments should be submitted as soon as possible after the end of this period, following submission of an Extenuating Circumstances Form, if appropriate. The Extenuating Circumstances Form is available from the UCB Portal.

Please note that cut-off dates for late submissions will apply and are up to two weeks after the original hand-in date of the work. After the cut-off dates, you will not be allowed to submit any late assignments, even if you have Extenuating Circumstances to cover them. Failure to meet this deadline will mean you may have to submit during the re-sit period at the end of the Academic Year. The cut-off dates give the module lecturer time to mark your work and have your grade ready for submission to the Examination Board. They are also there to ensure fairness for all students. If you have any queries, then please speak to the Registry, based in Room 629 of the Summer Row Campus.

Once you hand in your assignment, click on your ATS history button, where the exact time of your submission is logged. For electronic submissions on Turnitin, a date and time log is shown to the lecturer. This provides you with proof that you handed in your work and may prove valuable in the rare cases when assignments are misplaced. The burden of proof of submission of a particular assignment will lie with you. There are a few exceptional circumstances (such as being on placement overseas) when you will be permitted to send your assignment by post or email. You must follow carefully the instructions provided by the person approving this and you must keep a copy of the assignment.

Anonymous Marking

UCB maintains a balanced approach to the use of anonymous and identified marking. Examinations will be marked without the knowledge of the student’s name, ie anonymously. Dissertations and similar independent study projects will be marked anonymously where appropriate. Other assessments may have the student’s name identified to the marker where it is impractical to extend anonimity.


These are available on UCB Online. Log in to the Assignment Tracking System. The ‘Help’ button provides you with full guidance and answers to typical questions which may arise.

Grading Late Assignments

All late work will be marked as any other piece of work. However, the final grade to be awarded will be decided only after the Board of Examiners has considered any extenuating circumstances. If the Board takes the view that your extenuating circumstances are genuine, then the original mark will stand; if not, then your work may be awarded a maximum mark of 40% for undergraduate work and 50% for postgraduate work, but could be awarded 0%. Your module leader should not be approached concerning Extenuating Circumstances. You should only contact the Registry. Extenuating Circumstances are discussed confidentially at a separate board meeting. The lecturer’s marks are based solely on the relative merits of the work. It is the Board of Examiners who determine the final mark.

Querying a Coursework Grade

If you have a query on the grade awarded to a piece of coursework or the feedback provided on it, please make an appointment to meet with your module lecturer. During this time, the lecturer can go through the assignment with you and address any concerns that you have. Most issues can be sorted out at this stage.


There are two main University examination periods which take place at the end of each semester, normally January and May. There are also three resit periods and these are usually held in February, April and July. Dates for the main exam periods are shown on the UCB Calendar.

Please note that for all full-time students resit periods will take place at the end of the level of study. Resit Examination dates may vary for part-time, final year and postgraduate students. Practical exam periods may also vary. Full details of examination periods for your programme can be found on the UCB Portal. If you have any queries about examination dates contact Exams.

Attendance at Examinations

Students should not make any holiday arrangements or book tickets to leave the UK before any published examination period, something that applies to students from the UK and abroad. It may not be possible to reschedule any examination a student may miss under these circumstances, which may result in failure of the examination. If this situation is unavoidable, then please contact the Examinations Unit as soon as possible.

Students are reminded that the completion of exams does not mean that they are completely free to begin holidays, etc. Within the published term dates, students may be required to attend resit examinations, attend viva voce examinations (see below) or to provide additional information which would help a Board of Examiners in their decision making process. You must make yourself available within the published dates for such activities.

Viva Voce Examinations

A student may occasionally be asked to attend an oral, or viva voce, examination. Viva voces are most commonly employed in the period between an internal examiners’ meeting and an external examiners’ meeting (late June or end of February), in cases where the examiners feel that they require a little more information in order to make a decision on the correct grade for a student (for example, when a student has achieved a borderline grade). A student will never be disadvantaged by attending a viva voce examination – a student’s mark can only be raised following a viva, not lowered. As such, it may be observed that a student is under no obligation to attend a viva voce; however, the prudent student is unlikely to refuse the opportunity to improve their mark, and perhaps their final classification, in a situation where they have nothing to lose. Make sure that your Year Manager/Tutor has up-to-date contact details should you be called to a viva voce examination.

Examination Timetable

Each semester the examination timetable is published by the Examinations Unit. This timetable details the date, time and venue of the formal written examinations for all programmes. Details of practical examinations will be made available by the relevant module leader.

The examinations will vary in length (usually between one and three hours) and in type. Some may require you to write essay-style answers while others may be based on case studies and focus on your problem solving or practical skills.

This year the Semester One examination timetable will be published on 24th October 2016 on UCB Online. The Semester Two examination timetable will be published on 13th March 2016 also on UCB Online.

Resit timetables (for examinations held in February, April and July) will be published following the examination boards and students must access their resit examination timetable in MyExamTimetable on UCB Online. It is each student’s responsibility to check their results as soon as possible after the publication of results to ensure that re-sit exams are not missed.

Before each exam period, students should consult the published timetables on UCB Online. It is the student’s responsibility to check the examination timetable, prepare for and attend each exam at the times stated. Concerns regarding the timetables should be raised with the Examinations Unit.

Examination Venues

If students are scheduled to sit an examination in a location outside of the UCB Buildings, maps are available in MyExamTimetable on UCB Online and from the Examinations Unit, based in the Academic Registry in Room 629 on the Sixth Floor of the Summer Row Campus.