Academic mitigation for academic year 2020-21
In semester 2 of academic year 2019-20, two major academic adjustments were introduced to mitigate for effects of the pandemic on students’ ability to study effectively. One reduced the threshold for entry to certain Honours programmes, while the other aimed to reduce the impact of any reduction in grades on students’ degree classifications, whilst at the same time reporting academically secure grades and retaining the value of your effort towards the module grades reported on your degree transcript.
It had been hoped that such measures would not be necessary in 2020-21, but this position has been reviewed in response to recent tightening of pandemic-related restrictions. It has now been decided to offer similar adjustments in 2020-21.
If you are studying towards an MBChB, these changes may not apply to you: you should refer to any specific guidance provided by your School.
The requirements for entry to Honours in MA, BSc, BA and MTheol programmes will be reduced from an average of 11 in the specified core 2000-level modules, to passes in those modules. This will apply if you are entering Honours in January 2021 or in September 2021.
For Integrated Masters programmes such as MBiol, MChem, MPhys, MSci etc, the grade requirement for entry to Honours will be set by the relevant School, and notified to you.
There will be a further suspension of the rule that a grade achieved on a second enrolment in a core module cannot be considered for entry to Honours. Results for modules taken for the second time in academic year 2021-22 will be considered for entry to Honours. Note that this concerns cases where you take the entire module again, rather than where you have a resit assessment from the first time that you take the module.
Other regulations remain unchanged: before entering Honours you must gain at least 220 credits overall, including at least 80 at 2000 level.
The option to request S-coding for Honours and Masters module results significantly affected by extenuating circumstances has been available for a number of years. A variant called SP-coding was introduced for semester 2 2019-20, and will now be extended.
The biggest difference is that for S-coding you need to provide evidence of the extenuating circumstances that affected your results, and there is an approval process—your request may be declined if it’s decided that the criteria haven’t been met. For SP-coding, you don’t need to provide any evidence, and the process is purely administrative—your request will always be approved so long as it’s within the limits specified below.
Once an S-code has been approved and applied to your academic record, you can’t later remove it. With SP-coding, you can change your mind later and ask for it to be removed.
There are also differences, described below, in the limits on the number of credits that can be S-coded and SP-coded, and in the processes for applying.
There is nothing to stop you applying for S-coding (as opposed to SP-coding) on grounds based on the effects of the pandemic, but you will need to provide evidence of the specific circumstances that affected you individually; for SP-coding you will not.
The effects of S-coding and SP-coding are identical. Depending on whether the result is a pass or a fail:
- If the result is a passing grade:
- you still receive the credits
- the grade may be ignored in degree classification
- If the result is a failing grade (including 0X):
- you still receive no credits
- you get a further assessment opportunity in the next appropriate assessment diet, treated in the same way as the S/SP-coded result (e.g. if that result was a first attempt, the further assessment will also be considered as a first attempt)
- the grade may be ignored in degree classification
In the degree classification process (see Honours Classification Policy or Postgraduate Taught Masters Classification), the algorithm is run twice, once including all S-coded and SP-coded module results, and once ignoring them all. If the resulting classifications differ, you receive the higher one.
S/SP-coded module results are displayed on the academic transcript with the code ‘S’ or ‘SP’ in place of the usual ‘P’ or ‘F’, for example 5.6SP, 13.1S, 10.5SP. The ‘P’ in ‘SP’ stands for pandemic rather than pass.
The maximum proportion of credits that can be S-coded is 25% of the credits contributing to Honours classification (normally 60 credits for BSc and MA, 75 credits for WIYA programmes, 90 credits for Integrated Masters), or 50% of the taught credits contributing to Postgraduate Masters classification (normally 60 credits).
The maximum number of credits that can be SP-coded depends on how many semesters of your Honours or Masters studies have been significantly affected by the pandemic. Currently, the following semesters are considered to have been significantly affected:
- 2019-20 semester 2
- 2020-21 semester 1
- 2020-21 semester 2
You have a maximum allowance of 30 SP-coded credits for each one of these semesters in which you were studying at Honours or Masters level. Some examples are given in the final section. These limits will be appropriately adjusted if you have studied on a part-time basis, or took leave of absence during any of the affected semesters.
You can choose freely which modules should be SP-coded, up to your maximum allowance. You do not have to use all your allowance, or indeed any of it, and the SP-coded modules do not have to be evenly spread over the affected semesters. An affected semester of study contributes to your maximum allowance even if you do not SP-code any modules in that semester. More than 30 credits may be SP-coded in any individual affected semester, as long as the total SP-coded credits do not exceed the total maximum allowance.
In addition to the specific limits above on S-coded credits and SP-coded credits, there is a further restriction on the total credits that are either S-coded or SP-coded. This total must not exceed 50% of the credits considered in degree classification.
If you already have SP-coding applied to some of your results, and you decide that you would prefer to SP-code different results, you can ask for selected previous SP-coding to be removed.
If you already have SP-coding that exceeds the maximum SP-coding allowance, you can keep it. However, if you want to request additional SP-coding, you will need to remove sufficient previous SP-coding to bring your new S/SP-coded credit totals within the two limits (i.e. (i) no more SP-coded credits than the total maximum allowance of SP credits and (ii) total S/SP-coded credits no more than 50% of the credits considered in degree classification).
For completeness, the categories of module results that can be SP-coded are, subject to the exceptions that follow this list:
- Assessments at 3000, 4000 and 5000 level taken in semester 2 of 2019-20 and both semesters of 2020-21, including year-long modules.
- Deferred assessments and reassessments completed in the exam diets in May 2020, August 2020, December 2020, May 2021 and August 2021.
- For students on the BA International Honours programme only: St Andrews assessments at 1000 to 5000 level taken in semester 2 of 2019-20 and both semesters of 2020-21, including modules taken online.
- Assessments taken at other universities in semester 2 of 2019-20 and both semesters of 2020-21 as part of a study abroad programme.
The following module results cannot be SP-coded:
- The final 60-credit module in a taught postgraduate programme.
- Undergraduate modules where their inclusion in degree classification is a requirement of the relevant external degree accrediting body. Your School will notify you of any modules falling into this category.
- Results that have been coded ‘C’ as a result of an academic misconduct outcome.
- Results that have been coded 'S' as a result of School approved S-Coding.
The process for applying for S-coding is described in the policy. It is handled at School level. If you wish to apply for S-coding, you should submit your application as early as it is feasible to do so. As described in the policy, you will need to provide appropriate evidence.
The process for applying for SP-coding is handled by Registry; your School is not involved. If you are currently eligible to graduate, Registry will contact you shortly with details of how to request SP-coding, and remove any existing SP-coding if necessary. You will not need to provide any evidence. If your studies are continuing in semester 2 2020-21, Registry will contact you after module results are published in June 2021.
If you entered MA Honours in September 2019 and will graduate in June 2021, the maximum SP-coding allowance is 90 credits, since three semesters were affected by the pandemic.
If you entered BSc Honours in September 2020 and will graduate in June 2022, the maximum SP-coding allowance is 60 credits, since two semesters were affected by the pandemic.
If you entered MMath Honours in September 2019 and will graduate in June 2022, the maximum SP-coding allowance is 90 credits, since three semesters were affected by the pandemic.
If you started an MLitt in September 2020 and will graduate in December 2021, the maximum SP-coding allowance is 60 credits, since two semesters were affected by the pandemic.
If you entered MA Honours in September 2020 and took leave of absence for semester 2 2020-21, the maximum SP-coding allowance is 30 credits, since one semester of study was affected by the pandemic.
If you entered Honours in Medicine (taking 3000-level modules) in September 2019 and will graduate in June 2021, the maximum SP-coding allowance is 90 credits, since three semesters were affected by the pandemic. In practice, given the MD module sizes, you can SP-code one 60-credit module and one 20-credit module, or one 40-credit module and one 20-credit module—so long as the overall 50% limit on S/SP-coding is observed.
To illustrate the effect of the 50% overall limit on S/SP-coding—if you are studying in MA Honours and three of the Honours semesters were affected by the pandemic, no more than 60 credits can be S-coded, no more than 90 credits can be SP-coded, and no more than 120 credits in total can be either S-coded or SP-coded.
If you have questions about how these measures will affect you, you can contact the Students’ Association at firstname.lastname@example.org for independent advice on the process. Note that the Students’ Association has no role in decision making on S/SP-coding.