Assessment and Feedback

Swansea University is committed to continuing to enhance its approach to assessment and feedback and will be launched a new Feedback and Assessment Policy in September 2020, followed by enhanced support and guidance for staff and students. Swansea University is committed to:

  • Designing assessment which is inclusive, authentic and engaging which supports students’ learning;
  • Providing students with helpful, clear and timely feedback on all assessed work;
  • Assessing students’ work in a way that is fair, valid and reliable;
  • Provide students with a clear timetable for when assessments are to be scheduled, submitted, marked and returned with feedback;
  • Provide students with opportunities for formative assessment;
  • Meet students’ specific examination and assessment requirements in accordance with the Equality Act (2010);
  • Provide students with results and progression decisions.

In addition, Students must share responsibility by:

  • Submitting work by the prescribed date and time.
  • Making good use of feedback provided on assessed work to improve academic performance.
  • Informing their College/School of any extenuating circumstances which might affect assessment performance or ability to complete it in accordance with the prescribed deadline.

In order to ensure that all staff are able to meet these commitments, it is essential that a more consistent and inclusive approach is taken to assessment and feedback at Swansea University. Colleges/Schools have a responsibility to ensure that all staff are knowledgeable about the Feedback and Assessment Policy, and have in place robust procedures to assure not only the quality of provision but also to enhance provision in line with the University’s strategic objectives.

What is the Purpose of Assessment?

Good assessment should:

  1. Provide a means to enhance student learning by providing appropriate feedback on performance – also referred to as Assessment for learning;
  2. Provide a means to allow students to develop key skills and graduate attributes for employability and life-long learning
  3. Provide a means by which to measure and certify student achievements against the learning outcomes of the module – also referred to as Assessment of learning;
  4. Provide a reliable and consistent basis for the recommendation of an appropriate grade or award;
  5. Provide a means by which staff can evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching.

What is the Purpose of Feedback?

 Good feedback should:

  1. Be useful, of high quality and provided in good time on all formative and summative assessments to enable students to obtain the maximum educational benefit to learning. The majority of evidence from the feedback literature suggests that it is essential to provide meaningful, constructive feedback within a reasonable timescale and that it is important to use multiple methodologies to deliver the feedback.
  2. Be an integral part of the learning and assessment process and should not be seen as a ‘bolt on’. The most effective feedback aims to provide learners with information that enables them to identify what they have done well (and why) and highlight areas for improvement and further development. It is extremely beneficial to discuss with students themselves what form of feedback works best for them.

Defining Assessment

Assessment describes any processes that evaluate the outcomes of student learning in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and abilities. All students should be subject to some form of assessment for all modules of study which will enable them to develop and progress through their University journey.

Assessment for Learning

Swansea University follows the principle that assessment is a key part of learning, which has critical impact in shaping students’ dispositions towards learning, their understanding of goals and their motivation. Assessment can define what students regard as important, determine much of the work students undertake and affect their approach to learning. Feedback can help students develop the ability to monitor, evaluate, regulate and enhance their own learning.

Types of Assessment

Students should be able to access assessments which enhance their learning throughout their programme of study. There is a range of approaches to assessment which, when carefully designed and implemented, can significantly enhance the student experience.

  • Diagnostic Assessment: Diagnostic assessments can be used to provide an indicator of a learner’s aptitude, progress and preparedness for undertaking a module, programme or assessment, and identify possible strengths and gaps in knowledge, understanding and skills which should be addressed. Diagnostic assessments are generally used at the beginning of a programme, but can be used at key stages within a programme on a formative basis to provide insight to both students and academic staff as to students’ progress.
  • Formative Assessment: Formative assessments have a developmental purpose and are designed to help learners learn more effectively and discover how to approach different types of assessments to suit their learner style. Feedback on formative assessments is essential for students to gain from the experience.
  • Summative Assessment: Summative assessments are used to indicate and measure the students’ success in meeting the assessment criteria used to gauge the intended learning outcomes of a module or programme. Only the results of summative assessments contribute towards a students’ progression or award.
  • Authentic Assessment: Authentic assessments are those that are created to replicate real-world situations and scenarios, including project management plans, reports, coding exercises and similar approaches.
  • Synoptic Assessment: Synoptic assessment is an approach to Programme Level assessment whereby the learning outcomes from a range of modules can be synthetised into a single assessment point.

Assessments within modules can be linked together, so that formative assessments can form a preparation or a follow up to a summative assessment.

Inclusive Assessment

Inclusive assessment is an approach which places the individual student experience at the heart of the process, by ensuring that when assessments are designed, the needs of all students are taken into account. The Equality Act 2010 places a legal obligation on institutions to ensure that assessment does not disadvantage disabled students, and that the institution is pro-active and anticipatory in developing assessments which meet this requirement during the development of new curricula.

The principles of Universal Design will ensure that by keeping the needs of all students in mind, developing different assessment styles which maximise inclusion can be beneficial to all students and therefore ease the burden on staff. It is not possible to plan for every eventuality, and reasonable adjustments may still be required for the minority of students, but by planning assessments as inclusively as possible it should minimise these changes and will save you time, effort and money and will enhance the student experience

Inclusive assessment should not compromise competence standards, meaning that developing robust, fair and inclusive assessments is essential. However, inclusive assessment should be designed to give all students an opportunity to meet those competence standards in an appropriate manner.

You should discuss any possible challenges which may arise with your College/School Disability Link Tutor, Swansea Academy of Inclusivity and Learner Success (SAILS) and/or Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT) during development and prior to delivery of the module, to ensure that any alterations to make learning more inclusive can be made at an early stage.

How can I Make Assessment More Inclusive?

There are a number of simple ways that you can make your assessment more inclusive for all students:

  • Reflect on what assessment types you wish to use and discuss them with colleagues – can you immediately see that some students may not be able to access them effectively? How can you assess the same learning outcomes in a more accessible way? This is especially important for any modules delivered off campus by a collaborative partner.
  • Ensure that you develop alternative forms of assessment when developing the module. You may wish to consider providing all students with an option on which type of assessment enables them to perform to their best. Most effective learning outcomes can be assessed through multiple methods of assessment, and you should consider this when writing your learning outcomes.  Alternative assessment methods should not affect the competence standards of the module, as all types of assessment should be equally robust.
  • Develop formative assessments to provide students with experience of different assessment types – this may help identify where some students may require a different assessment format.
  • Provide a range of assessment opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement of intended learning outcomes.
  • Where possible and appropriate, exercise flexibility in terms of deadlines, presentational requirements etc. All deadline extensions should be discussed with the student – the University is not expected to provide ‘unlimited’ deadlines to students, but must be considerate of disabled students’ specific needs.
  • Consider providing all assessments on a paper colour and in a font size more friendly to dyslexic and visually impaired students (e.g. blue or cream).
  • Ensure examination rubrics are clear, and are clearly explained to all students during the examination. Really challenge yourself and think about whether formal examinations are really the best approach.
  • If group work is required, consider appropriate adjustments for disabled students who may not perform well in a group situation.[1]
  • Ensure any electronic assessment is compatible with screen reader software.
  • Most importantly, discuss different methods of assessment with your students to find out which students value most, and which are most challenging for disabled students.

Further information on inclusive assessment is available from the SALT website.

Variety of Assessment

Providing students with a variety of assessment methods allows them to demonstrate their ability using different learning styles, at least some of the time. Research evidence suggests that everyone is different in the way they learn and how they convey an understanding of what has been learnt (Biggs, 1999), making the use of a variety of assessment methods an increasingly important part of learning and development. Equally, with student employability a crucial factor in programme design and development, providing assessments which can be linked to transferable skills or employability outcomes can enhance the programme for students.

Each assessment method has a range of advantages and disadvantages. By adopting a variety of assessment methods within modules and programme, there is an opportunity to even out disadvantages and maximise the reliability of the assessment overall.

Another key factor in developing a variety of assessment, is that it is extremely beneficial for inclusive learning. Providing all students with the opportunity to undertake different methods of assessment means that the need to adjust assessments for disabled students will be minimised. Given the requirement to be anticipatory (Equality Act 2010) in the assessment of disabled students, developing a variety of assessments for all students may help to satisfy this requirement with minimal work.

How much Assessment Should I Use?

Assessment load must be balanced and appropriate for the subject area across the entire programme. When setting assessment at modular level, consideration must be given to how this reflects the credit weighting of the module, and how the assessment type works within the overall assessment strategy of the programme, to avoid the tendency to over-assess students. You should ensure that overall the Programme contains an appropriate variety of formative and summative assessment types, which are relevant to the subject area.

The table below provides some indicative assessment tariffs for a typical taught 10-credit module. As the University expects more formative and authentic approaches to assessment, the indicative model becomes increasingly inflexible, therefore should be used with caution and as a guide, to avoid limiting innovation. Some modules can appear to include a higher weighting of assessments than others depending on the overall programme. Where possible there should be some consistency between modules contributing to programmes in terms of weighting/contribution to overall marks. Where there is variance, this must have a clear rationale.

Whilst the table shows three categories of assessment, this can be broadly interpreted, and wherever possible ‘word count’ can be used as a proxy for consistency for any assessment in a written format. For example, a poster may be limited to 1000 words, but the skill in assembling a professional poster may actually be equivalent to a standard essay of 2500 words.

Module Co-ordinators and Programme Directors should consider the overall assessment strategy of the programme whenever new modules are made available, to ensure the overall programme assessment pattern remains balanced. Formative assessments do not need to be included on the assessment system, but staff may find it beneficial to include this on the template to aid the approval process.

Assessment Weighting  


Continuous Assessment  (Coursework)(total word count or equivalent) Total Timed Assessment/


100% 30 minutes 2000-2500 words 60 – 120 minutes
75% 15-30 minutes 1500-2000 words 60-90 minutes
50% 10-15 minutes 1000-1500 words 60 minutes
25% 5-10 minutes Up to 1000 words Up to 60 minutes
Feedback/ forward approach  

Individual written/verbal

Individual  written/verbal Cohort, Group or individual, written and/or verbal

What is Authentic Assessment and Why Should I Use it?

Authentic Assessment, utilising meaningful tasks in context centred settings is a powerful tool in both formative and summative assessment situations. It assesses competence as well as knowledge and values achievement. It is already being used creatively and effectively at Swansea University. Making assessment more authentic enhances students’ engagement with assessment, and enables them to develop a greater skillset than more traditional methods. As authentic assessment is focused or (or more related to) likely work-based tasks, students can also more easily see the benefits to them in terms of learning and development. Visit the SALT website for further information on Authentic Assessment.

How can I Make Assessment More Authentic?

SALT has published a guide and hosted a seminar on developing authentic assessment, from which videos are available, that provide case studies, support and information about making assessment authentic. It is also worth identifying key work-related tasks and/or discussing required skills and attributes with employers and/or the Swansea Employability Academy to ensure assessments can be developed authentically.

Implementation of the Swansea University Feedback and Assessment Policy:

Assessment practices should promote effective learning

Colleges/Schools are required to ensure:

  1. Assessments must be developed to allow all students to demonstrate the intended learning outcomes of the module for which they are being assessed.
  2. Each assessment must be linked to assessment criteria which take into account requirements for attaining academic standards for progression. Students must be made aware of the assessment criteria over and above the inclusion of general assessment criteria within College/School handbooks. Assessment criteria should be with assessment instructions. Assessment criteria should be written in language which is clear and understandable to students and should take into account level of learning.
  3. Assessment must be inclusive and must meet the needs of all students as outlined by the Equality Act (2010). Module Co-ordinators must take an anticipatory approach to the design of assessment in order to allow all students to achieve. They must also provide a range of alternative methods of assessing the learning outcomes of each module during development or review stages. Alternative assessment methods should be discussed and agreed with the Disability Link Tutor and Disability Office and/or wellbeing services (as appropriate), and, where possible, the students. This is a key issue for disabled students, but all students will be able to benefit from more inclusive assessment practices.
  4. All alternative assessment methods devised should meet the same competence standards and assess the same learning outcomes. All assessment methods utilised should be designed to be equally robust.
  5. Students should experience a varied range of assessment methods across modules within a level of study and across a programme. Colleges/Schools must monitor assessment diversity in the context of a programme during the Annual Programme Review process.
  6. Assessments should be designed to provide all students with the opportunity to develop key transferable skills that will enhance employability and their graduate attributes.
  7. Each programme must contain appropriate formative assessment to allow students and staff to reflect on their learning progress and improve for future assessments. This is of particular importance for students in the first semester of Level 4 (Year 1).
  8. All students should have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with any new assessment methodology introduced or utilised in a programme/module.
  9. Where appropriate, assessments must be designed to assure the practitioner’s fitness to practise and to safeguard the public.
  10. Students will be able to evaluate whether a module assessment, in particular any alternative assessment provisions made, has allowed them to demonstrate the intended learning outcomes and whether the assessment criteria have been clear and useful.
  11. Students must have access to at least one past or sample examination paper for each examination format, along with any generic feedback relating to a specific past paper.
  12. Examination or assessment questions in general should not be re-used, however if they are re-used as part of a question bank or similar, they should not be re-used within 3 years.


  1. Module Co-ordinators should work in partnership with students when developing assessments and specific marking criteria.
  2. Students may benefit from access to a range of examples of previous students’ assessments, along with guidance on what constitutes a good answer. Permission from the students concerned will be required before their work can be used.

      Appropriate and timely feedback is provided to students on assessed work in a way that promotes learning and facilitates improvements

Colleges/Schools are required to ensure:

  1. It is a university requirement that feedback is provided on all forms of assessment, including examinations.
  2. Constructive feedback must be provided to students as soon as possible, and should normally be provided within a maximum of 3 weeks of the submission date of the assessment task in order to maximise its benefit and to allow students to make improvements to subsequent assessments within their course.
  3. Colleges/Schools must monitor the timeliness of feedback to students and report regularly on progress to the University’s Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee.
  4. Feedback must be linked to assessment criteria and the learning outcomes. Good quality feedback should identify where the student has performed well, identify areas for improvement and clarify for students any areas where their understanding of the task or topic requires improvement. Staff should keep in mind that ‘feedforward’ will often be applicable to assessment set for other modules.
  5. In general, all feedback provided to students should be inclusive and accessible. All written feedback utilised should be word processed and provided in electronic format, using language that students understand. Feedback should be printed for students if required. Colleges should consider utilising a standardised feedback sheet for this. Colleges should avoid the use of scripts annotated with handwritten notes, which may not be legible, and should utilise electronic methods for annotating scripts if required. If annotated scripts are utilised, all notes must be clear and legible and not written in red ink (which can be interpreted negatively by students).
  6. Module Co-ordinators should consider utilising a range of inclusive forms of feedback, including audio, video or online via Blackboard, which may help to streamline the process of delivering effective and timely feedback to large numbers of students. When providing feedback, markers should continue to bear in mind the needs of disabled students and other students who may have specific requirements.
  7. Markers should provide general feedback on any spelling or grammar issues if necessary, however markers must bear in mind that students may have specific learning difficulties, and therefore any comments should be constructive.
  8. Students should be able to discuss further feedback, or seek clarification of issues raised within feedback, with their Academic Mentor or Module Co-ordinator as appropriate.
  9. Colleges should consider utilising peer or self-assessment mechanisms to provide faster feedback to students, which also equips students with additional transferable skills.
  10. Colleges must regularly review the quality and timeliness of feedback on all forms of assessment, including exams, provided to students. This must be reported to the University Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee during each semester.


  1. Students may find it beneficial to receive feedback on assessments at least two weeks prior to submission of the next assessment, to ensure that the feedback can be used to inform their next assessment.
  2. Students should be provided with examples of generic feedback provided to students from previous examinations and assessments, to enable students to identify any common issues.

      The amount and timing of assessment enables effective and appropriate evaluation of students’ achievement of intended learning outcomes

Colleges/Schools are required to ensure:

  1. All students will be provided with an assessment schedule for each semester at the beginning of the academic year. This schedule will provide students with submission dates and methods for submission of assessments, examination periods, the weighting of each assessment method, methods of marking and the date by which they can expect provisional marks and feedback, and the format feedback will take.
  2. Assessments will be scheduled to ensure students have appropriate time to review and prepare before assessment, and are not overloaded at key points in their programme. This will require careful communication between Colleges/Schools/departments when setting assessment deadlines to ensure equity of experience for joint honours students.
  3. Assessments will be scheduled from the start with the needs of all students in mind, including those students who may require longer to complete the work due to disabilities, health conditions or special circumstances. It is therefore essential that deadlines are carefully set and managed to ensure all students have the greatest chance of meeting these deadlines. Any students who are unable to meet set deadlines due to special circumstances or pre-existing health conditions should inform the College as soon as possible.
  4. Assessment deadlines should not usually be set during examination periods, to enable the students to focus on the examinations.


  1. Module Co-ordinators may wish to set the feedback date first, and then work backwards to set the date of assessment(s), to enable students to receive feedback by the end of the Semester. As this may not be at the end of teaching, co-ordinators should give thought to what learning outcomes should be assessed at this point.
  2. Colleges may wish to engage students in the construction and planning of schedules of assessment within their subject areas.

The principles and procedures for, and processes of, assessment should be explicit, valid and reliable

Colleges/Schools are required to ensure:

  1. Consistent information and guidance on assessment is provided that is clear, accurate and accessible to staff, students, placement or practice providers, assessors and external examiners, to minimise the potential for inconsistency or perceived lack of fairness.
  2. Where a programme forms part of the qualifications regime of a professional or statutory body, Colleges/Schools must provide clear information in the programme documentation about the specific assessment requirements which must be met for progression towards the professional qualification. This will include the options/modules which must be passed and the level at which the programme or any part of it must be passed in order to meet the requirements of the professional or statutory body.
  3. The University and its constituent Colleges/Schools must ensure that all staff, including teaching assistants, external tutors, employers/practitioners and administrative/support staff involved in assessment practice, procedures and processes, attend relevant training and receive appropriate support.
  4. Assessments must be valid, robust, fair and reliable. All assessment approaches should be reviewed and endorsed by the relevant External Examiner prior to being announced to students.
  5. A ‘submission’ will consist of one of the following, and must be defined by the College/School in the College/School Handbook: Submission of hardcopy assessment, Submission of electronic assessment, Submission of hardcopy and electronic assessment. The type of submission may vary depending on the type of assessment for each module.
  6. Where ‘c’ is selected above, all students must submit both hardcopy and electronic copies of their assessment by the deadline set in the assessment schedule provided.
  7. Colleges must select one of the options for undergraduate programmes regarding late submission penalties, to apply consistently throughout the College/School as noted in the Policy on Late Submission of Assessed Work in the Academic Regulations. There is only one option for taught postgraduate programmes noted in the above policy. Students  who are prevented from meeting the assessment deadline due to extenuating circumstances or pre-existing medical issues or disabilities should notify the College/School/University. Please refer to the Policy on Extenuating Circumstances for further information. Colleges/Schools must publish which penalty system they have elected to use in the College/School Handbook, and ensure that students are aware prior to submission of the first assignment.
  8. All appropriate assessments should normally be submitted in electronic format through Turnitin to minimise opportunities for plagiarism. Assessment types which are not suitable for submission via Turnitin should be clearly identified within the College/School Handbook and schedule of assessment.
  9. All students will receive a receipt for their submission (either electronic or hardcopy). Colleges/Schools must develop appropriate procedures to enable this and publicise them to students in the College/School Handbook(s).
  10. Once assessments have been submitted, students will not be able to access them until they are returned following marking. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that work is complete and checked prior to submission
  11. Students are not permitted to use failure of IT equipment as a reason for non-submission or to apply for consideration of special circumstances, unless there is a documented failure which affects a significant number of students which limits the students’ opportunity to submit (generally this will affect electronic copies only). Students must ensure they keep a back up of their work and be prepared to submit by the deadline published.
  12. Students are not permitted to resubmit any assessments in which they have underperformed during the course of the academic year to improve their mark. Only students who fail modules or compulsory assessments may be granted permission by the appropriate University or College/School Committee or Progression and Awards Board to submit supplementary assessment(s). Any resubmissions may be capped in accordance with the assessment regulations.

Assessments or Examinations Submitted which are Illegible

See the policy on illegible assessments or examinations in the Academic Regulations.

Assessments Submitted which are Over the Prescribed Word Limit

All Colleges must have an agreed policy for applying penalties where assessed work has exceeded the prescribed length (where appropriate). Each College/School must implement a policy uniformly across all programmes and ensure the policy is clearly communicated to all students in handbooks and assessment instructions.


  1. Module Co-ordinators should consider utilising peer and self-assessment methods, particularly for formative assessments.

The Procedures for Marking and for Moderating Marks must be Transparent and Fair

Colleges/Schools are required to ensure:

  1. Marking criteria should specify and allow for the use of the full range of marks (0-100), which should be utilised by staff when marking assessments.
  2. All assessments and examinations must be marked by academic or affiliated[2] staff who have received appropriate training in marking and are familiar with the module’s learning outcomes, marking guidelines and assessment criteria.
  3. Colleges/Schools must publicise their procedures for marking, checking of marking and for moderation of marks (e.g. in module/student/College/School handbooks), and this information should be made explicit and easily accessible for students. Colleges/Schools should select an appropriate approach to the moderation of marking. Procedures for marking must be clear, consistent and transparent.
  4. Colleges/Schools must ensure that all markers are fully aware of and consideration given to students with specific learning difficulties when marking, and such work must remain anonymous, but should be identifiable to staff.
  5. Colleges/Schools should follow a clear process for the agreement of marks for double marked or moderated assessments, and document outcomes.
  6. Colleges/Schools should not delay the release of marks or feedback to students if there are any students who have an extension for any reason, or to consult the External Examiner. Colleges/Schools must, however, withhold marks and feedback from individual students where there is an investigation of unfair practice.

Moderation of Marking for All Assessments for Taught Programmes

Moderation is the process of assuring that assessments have been marked in an academically rigorous manner with reference to agreed marking criteria. The University accepts variety in moderation practices by recognising the varying demands of different disciplines and the different requirements of various types of assessed material. Colleges/Schools should choose the most appropriate practices for their programmes from models of moderation using agreed criteria. The choice of approaches for moderation is outlined below.

The moderation practices adopted within the University are based on the following general principles. Moderation practices should:

  • seek to ensure accuracy and fairness;
  • be appropriate and acceptable to the discipline being taught;
  • be suitable to the material being assessed;
  • be suitable to the means of assessment being used;
  • be clearly evidenced in the feedback provided to students. This should take the form of electronically recorded comments from both markers either on the piece of assessed work, or on a separate cover sheet. The External Examiner will need to refer to this in undertaking his/her role.

The moderation approach chosen should be published, formal, recorded and reaffirmed or changed as part of regular programme or module reviews. Proposals for new programmes and new modules should indicate, as part of their statements on assessment, arrangements for the moderation of examinations and assessed work. The moderation approach should be published clearly for staff and students.

The moderation policy applies to all aspects of student assessment that contribute to the award or final classification of an award, including:

  • conventional examinations
  • formally assessed coursework such as projects or dissertations,
  • laboratory or other practical work.

Where modules include more than one method of assessment (e.g. include continuous assessment and/or practical work and/or formal written examinations) the predominant method of assessment shall be subject to moderation.

At all other levels that do not contribute to the final award, moderation need only, as a minimum, apply to failed work and work close to the borderline for tolerated failures (the borderline is 30% for undergraduate modules and 40% for taught postgraduate/level 7 modules).

Exemptions from the Policy

Where assessment methods are automated (i.e. the answers are machine or optically read), or in quantitative assessments in which model answers are provided to the marker, these assessments are exempt from this policy.

Models of Moderation

Colleges will be expected to employ one of the forms of moderation indicated below and will also be expected to employ an arithmetical check that the calculation and transcription of marks is correct. (Note, the method of moderation may vary according to the nature of the assessment).

  1. Universal Double Blind Marking of the whole cohort: The first marker makes no notes of any kind on the work being marked and the second marker examines the script/dissertation/directed independent learning submission as it was submitted by the student. Both examiners record their marks and feedback separately and then compare marks and resolve differences to produce an agreed mark. The agreed mark and feedback from both markers may only then be released.
  2. Universal Non-Blind Double Marking of the whole cohort: The first marker provides feedback for the student on the assessment and the second marker assesses the work with this information known. No actual marks are disclosed; or marks are, for example, written on the back cover of an examination book. Second markers may be required or advised not to take into account the first marker’s marks in determining their own marks, and will be required to resolve differences in marks for all cases, or within defined ranges, as part of their second marking responsibilities. The provision of written comments by the first examiner makes second marking easier by guiding the second marker.
  3. Moderation of the entire cohort as Check or Audit: The first marker provides feedback for the student and awards a mark. The role of the second marker is to check that first marking has been carried out correctly, that mark schemes have been properly applied, and that the total mark is arithmetically correct. The first marker leaves a clear trail to be audited. The purpose of second marking is to check on standards for all work and may be extended to reviews or thorough second marking of selected work e.g., fails, marks just below the lower boundary of a class, or firsts.
  4. Moderation by sampling of the cohort: The second marker samples work already first marked, with feedback for students and marks attached, in order to check overall standards. This may be used where first markers are less experienced, where there are several first markers and consistency may be a problem or where unusual patterns of performance are expected or observed. It may lead to more extensive marking if problems are detected. The second marker may be the arbiter in such cases or may be responsible for alerting the examiner(s) with overall responsibility for the module. It is recommended that the sample of work for second marking is drawn from assessments marked as fails, borderline, marks just below the lower boundary of a class, or firsts. Please see the guidelines on the sample to be submitted to the External Examiner for a recommended sample to be included for moderation purposes (see the Code of Practice for External Examiners).
  5. Partial Moderation: Any of the above may be applied to particular types of marks e.g., fails, firsts, or borderlines.

Resolving Differences Between Markers (Third marking)

 Whatever method is used for moderation there must be a method of resolving differences between markers. These are as follows:

  • discussion and negotiation between the two markers on all differences;
  • discussion and negotiation between the markers on specified differences e.g., for relatively large differences, fails, firsts, borderlines or differences across degree classes. If a size criterion is used its value or range of values should be agreed and specified;
  • taking the mean of different marks: this may be done for all differences, for relatively small differences or differences within a degree class, or where both marks are clearly above or below the pass‑fail line or above or below limits for compensation. It is recommended that where differences straddle critical boundaries the differences should be settled by discussion and negotiation;
  • resort to a third marker. This should be an additional internal examiner.

Differences between markers cannot be left unresolved.

The Role of External Examiners
External Examiners have a key role in the development of assessments, and in the monitoring of marking. Please refer to the Code of Practice for External Examiners for further information on how External Examiners’ assist in the development of assessment Module Co-ordinators should consult External Examiners when developing or introducing new types of assessment.

External Examiners, at both the undergraduate and taught postgraduate level should act as overseers of the moderation process only, and not as second markers or moderators themselves. Colleges/Schools should appoint a third marker in the case of dispute or go outside the College/School/University to appoint a second marker for directed independent learning work if necessary. It is incumbent on the College/School to identify any difficulties that might occur in second marking of directed independent learning submissions early and must ensure that anyone appointed to second mark who is external to the College/School is appropriately trained and has been provided with the appropriate marking criteria.

Issues to be Considered by Colleges/Schools in Determining their Moderation Practices

Where students follow modules in another College/School, the moderation methods chosen for assessment should be ­determined by the discipline. Students following the same module should be subject to the same moderation practices.

Suitable marking schemes must be provided for assessment on modules where moderation occurs. It is expected that External Examiners see not only draft examination papers and other types of assessments which they normally have responsibility for advising on, but also marking schemes for such assessments. Where students’ work is double marked, both first and second markers should have equal information and guidance for their marking.

There should be clear evidence that moderation has taken place, either in the form of clear feedback for students by both markers, either added directly to the piece of assessed work, or by means of a separate feedback sheet.

Colleges/Schools should bear in mind the information needed to provide assurance that quality standards are maintained under the schemes of moderation which they use. College/School Learning and Teaching Committees should ensure that suitable monitoring of moderation takes place.

Where full‑time members of the academic staff (or their equivalent) are supplemented by others (e.g. postgraduates, research assistants or outside lecturers) in moderation schemes, full‑time academic staff (or their equivalent) will assume primary marking or moderating responsibilities. Where markers are not full‑time academic staff, they should be assigned duties compatible with their experience and capacities.

Moderation practices should be determined for the assessment(s) within a given module and should be discipline specific. The College/School which approves a module should also approve its moderation arrangements.

Criteria for Choice of Moderation Schemes

The following are criteria which should be taken into account in determining appropriate schemes of moderation:

The nature of the material being assessed

  • Whether material is qualitative or quantitative;
  • whether marking requires the judgement of the examiner or merely the checking of objective fact;
  • whether material is presented in essays or numerical answers; whether questions and answers are structured or unstructured;
  • whether questions are multiple choice or open;
  • whether assessment involves short, discrete questions or questions which have a wide coverage.

The level of study of the module: The importance of objective second opinion increases for all assessment which contributes to the final degree classification or qualification outcome, e.g. for taught postgraduate programmes.

Resource considerations: Availability of suitable staff to act as markers; student numbers; deadlines.

The form of assessment: Conventional examination; other assessed work such as essays, projects, case studies, practicals, orals, presentations, individual or group work.

The norms for the discipline: With reference to the subject benchmark statement and the ‘normal’ practice in the same subject in other institutions.

Minimum Acceptable Standards

While it is not appropriate for the University to lay down narrowly defined standards for moderation practice, some general minimum acceptable standards should be adopted, namely: Decisions on the selection of moderation practices, taken by or approved by Colleges/Schools, when they approve modules, should be formal and recorded and should relate to the criteria set out above;

The moderation practices adopted within the University should be based on the following general principles. They should:

  • seek to ensure accuracy and fairness in marking
  • be appropriate and acceptable to the discipline being taught
  • be suitable to the material being assessed
  • be suitable to the means of assessment being used
  • be clearly evidenced

Academic Marking and Moderation – Conflicts of Interest

Whilst any conflicts of interest can normally be managed within professional frameworks, there is always the potential for bias (conscious or unconscious) if staff find themselves marking work of students with whom they have a pre-existing relationship.

Where a member of staff within a College/School identified a potential conflict of interest where an academic may be marking the assessed work of a family member, partner, employer, or close friend, they must declare a potential conflict of interest to ensure students are treated fairly and staff do not feel unduly pressurised.

Where this occurs, staff are required to follow the process below, and should, at minimum, ensure that all assessments will be second marked or moderated as a matter of course.

Failure to follow this process may result in student complaints and appeals, and potentially investigation and/or disciplinary action against members of staff and a result, which the University seeks to avoid.


  1. Where a potential conflict of interest is identified, this must immediately be flagged to the Director of Learning and Teaching and College/School Administrator.
  2. The staff member concerned must address the following:
  • Whether the conflict of interest meets the requirements outlined in the policy. If not, proceed with marking but ensure work is second marked by an independent marker
  • If the conflict of interest does meet the requirements outlined in the policy:

Can an alternate first marker be found?


Is an appropriately independent second marker/moderator in place, and Will the approaches selected ensure fairness and transparency of marking for the student(s) concerned, and parity across the cohort?

Use of External Markers

A conflict of interest may also occur where a college or school makes use of external markers. Where the use of an external marker is required, it is the responsibility of the Programme Director to appoint the marker(s) and ensure that the proposed markers have the appropriate skills, qualifications; experience and do not have an existing relationship with a member of staff involved in the delivery of the module.

Under exceptional circumstances where an external marker is proposed who does have an existing relationship with a members of staff involved in the delivery of the module, the appointment of the marker requires approval from the College/School Director of Learning & Teaching.

Assessment in Welsh (and other languages)

All students have the right to undertake any assessment through the medium of Welsh. Wherever possible, all assessed work submitted through the medium of Welsh should also be marked, and feedback provided, through the medium of Welsh. Work submitted through the medium of Welsh should also be reviewed by a Welsh-speaking External Examiner wherever possible.

The University has established a framework of internal and external assessors who are subject specialists able to mark in Welsh, and wherever possible the University will seek to utlise this approach. Where marking and External Examining is not possible through the medium of Welsh, as a last resort the work may be translated into English. However, this is not desirable as it may alter the nature and quality of the work submitted.

Assessments Through the Medium of Welsh

In order for the University to assure standards can be maintained, students pursuing an English language programme who wish to be assessed in Welsh should submit a written request to the College/School within four weeks of the start of the relevant module(s). (Where modules are of a shorter duration than four weeks, requests must be submitted upon enrolment on the module). The College/School shall then forward these requests to the Director of Academic Services who will then liaise with the Head of College/School (or nominee) regarding:

  • The provision of question papers through the medium of English or Welsh;
  • The necessary arrangements for the translation and/or marking of scripts in time for the inclusion of candidates’ results as appropriate;
  • The engagement of a suitable person or persons to act as advisory examiners or (at an approved fee) as translators.

It is a student’s responsibility to determine whether or not they are competent in the Welsh language, including appropriate technical terminology for the subjects concerned.

Translation of Assessment Questions

Where a Welsh language translation of an examination paper has been provided for an English-medium module, students should also be permitted to view the English language paper and to respond through the medium of English should they choose to do so. This approach is taken in order to ensure that the opportunity for students to be assessed in the language of their choosing does not compromise the student’s ability to achieve to their maximum.

Marking of Assessed Work Submitted in Welsh

In assuring the reliability of the assessment process the University encourages assignments to be marked by the individual teaching on that topic as its first principle. However where the internal examiner is not a fluent Welsh speaker, an appropriate assessor (either within the University or from external networks) can be appointed to mark the work in Welsh. Where every other approach has failed a translator will be appointed to translate the work.

In accordance with our anonymous marking policy, all formal examinations shall be marked in the anonymous state. However, in-programme assessments, e.g. oral/aural elements, continuous assessment and dissertations/theses are not always subject to anonymity. In these circumstances, every effort shall be made to ensure that there shall be no conflict of interest between translators and students. Translators shall be independent from the teaching, examining and marking processes.

Assessment questions shall also be translated into Welsh, as appropriate, but internal examiners must ensure that students will be aware of and understand any technical terminology that has been translated.

There must be comparable expectations and standards of students work regardless of the language of submission. Marking criteria must therefore be fair and appropriate to either language.

For Programmes Taught through the Medium of Welsh

As a first principle, we encourage assignments to be marked by the individual teaching on that topic.

As a second principle, we encourage the appointment of a Welsh speaking External Examiner who is linguistically and academically competent to make judgements on the original language text or oral assessments. Welsh speaking competency is requested in the nomination form for External Examiners. The University of Wales and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol also maintain a database of Welsh-speaking External Examiners to which Swansea University has access to assist in identifying appropriate expertise.

Good Practice

Where a bilingual External Examiner is appointed, it is good practice for the examiner to review assessments in English as well as Welsh to compare and confirm standards.

Assessments through a Language other than Welsh/English

In the case of students pursuing Modern Languages programmes, if appropriate and with the approval of the relevant module coordinator, students may be permitted to complete continuous assessment or examinations in the target language of modern languages modules. However if the rubric of the examination/assessment requires submission in English/Welsh, then this requirement shall prevail.

Marking of Assessed Work Submitted in a Language other than Welsh/English

In the case of students pursuing Modern Languages programmes, internal and External Examiners must be competent in the relevant languages and therefore issues regarding assuring standards and translation matters (as outlined above for Welsh language submissions) are not applicable.

Assuring Assessment Standards

Assessment should be conducted with rigour, probity and fairness and with due regard to security

Colleges/Schools will be required to:

  1. Colleges/Schools shall appoint an Examination Officer to act as a contact with the University Examinations Office on all matters to do with the administration and conduct of examinations. Examination irregularities are reported in line with University regulations to the Examinations Office or Head of College/School as appropriate.
  2. Colleges/Schools must ensure security of assessment at the time of submission (including keeping a record of submission whether by receipt, signature or electronically), during marking and on return of assessments/feedback to students. Assessments and Examination papers should be treated as ‘confidential’ material with regard to security and should be retained in line with the University’s policy.

Assessment outcomes must be documented accurately and systematically and decisions of relevant assessment panels and examination boards are to be communicated as quickly as possible

Colleges/Schools will be required to:

  1. Identify the individuals responsible for the accurate computation, recording and checking of assessment decisions. The recording of assessment decisions is the responsibility of the relevant Examinations Officers in the College/School.

Students should be fully aware of what constitutes academic integrity, and the consequences associated with breaching it.

Colleges/Schools will be required to:

  1. Ensure that all those involved with assessment are aware of both the misconduct regulations and the nature and consequences of academic misconduct.
  2. Consult with Academic Services before any decisions on instances of academic misconduct are made in order to establish if any record of previous misconduct exists. Colleges/Schools must inform Academic Services of any decisions taken.
  3. Engage students in discussion about what is considered to be plagiarism including: the referencing criteria expected of them in essays and assignments, teaching how to paraphrase and summarise appropriately, defining the terms used, exploring the ethical issues, explaining the penalties.
  4. Give students the opportunity to submit assignments to a resource for checking for duplication of texts to help inform decisions regarding academic integrity.
  5. Design assignments to minimise academic misconduct, for example by:
  • changing assignments yearly
  • the use of original and unique data
  • requiring specific components or process steps
  • the use of tasks requiring students to engage in and explain the rationale for the approach adopted.

The criteria for progressing from one stage of a programme to another and for qualifying for an award must be transparent.

Colleges/Schools will be required to:

  1. The institution must ensure that progression through the programme at each stage, and the consequences of failure within it, are consistently implemented in accordance with General Regulations and that these are clearly publicised to students, staff and External Examiners.
  2. Inform students clearly of the number of supplementary assessments normally permitted for their programme.
  3. Specify in advance the type of supplementary assessment required and inform students of their responsibilities in this process.

[1] Note: if group work is mandatory as part of the subject benchmark, then this should be made clear in all promotional materials to ensure that disabled applicants are aware of this.

[2] ‘Affiliated staff’ may include clinicians, postgraduate students etc, where appropriate, provided relevant University guidelines are followed.


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