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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Study  /  Undergraduate  /  Current Students  /  Examinations: Absence and Failure

Examinations: Absence and Failure

Absence from examinations

If you absent yourself without prior approval you will be marked absent and will not be deemed to have made an attempt at the examination; you will have a mark of zero entered for that course. With medical evidence you can apply for deferred assessment which involves sitting the exam during the summer before the start of your next year at UCL.  Please note that failure to attempt all assessed elements of all twelve units by the end of your degree could result in you being unable to graduate with Honours.

What happens if I do not complete or fail a module?

Under UCL regulations, students are normally permitted no more than two attempts at the assessment of any course unit. Marks for resit/repeat attempts are not automatically capped.

Please note that you cannot choose to resit a course you have already passed in order to improve your mark.

The consequences of not completing or failing a course depend on the circumstances.

There are three different reasons why you might not obtain a pass for a course:

    1. Failure to complete one or more elements of assessment
    2. Failure to pass one or more elements of assessment.
    3. Deregistration


    Failure to complete one or more elements of assessment

    If your attendance at the course is satisfactory, but you do not complete one or more components of assessment (e.g. you only submit one of two required essays, or you miss the exam for no good reason), your result will be ‘incomplete’. This has serious implications for your degree as, in order to be eligible for an honours degree, you are required to ‘complete’ 12 units.

    At UCL there is an important difference between failing a module – even if a module has been irredeemably failed after both the first and the second attempts – and being ‘incomplete’ in the assessment for a module: it is possible to fail a module permanently, while nevertheless ‘completing’ it. The difference can be very significant.

    In order to be ‘complete’ in a module, you must have been academically assessed in all of the examined elements relating to the module on at least the first or the second attempt. In other words, you must have seriously attempted all relevant assessment at least once, instead of being absent and/or failing to submit work. Merely attending an examination without making a credible attempt that can be academically assessed or submitting empty pages or negligible work that cannot be academically assessed does not complete the assessment. Completing all modules, even if some modules may have been failed, is very important: in order to progress from year 2 to year 3 you must be complete in all year 1 modules; in order to progress from year 3 to year 4 (for four-year degrees), you must be complete in all year 2 modules. This means that you will need to re-sit the module during your year abroad. If you become permanently ‘incomplete’ in a module, you may therefore no longer be able to progress and will have to leave UCL. Final-year students who become ‘incomplete’ in a module by failing to attempt a re-sit after already having failed to complete all elements of assessment on the first attempt will no longer qualify for a classified honours degree and may only qualify for an unclassified ordinary degree.

    It is therefore particularly important not to miss assessment by failing to submit work or being absent from examination; and it is imperative not to do so on a second attempt if the assessment for the module has remained incomplete after the first attempt.

    Further details and the formal regulations can be found in paragraph 2.10.1 of UCL’s Academic Regulations for Students: Undergraduate Programmes, Section 2: General Regulations.

    If you are ‘incomplete’ then you will be required to complete the missing components of assessment at the next opportunity. You do not need to re-attend the course, or to resit/resubmit components of assessment that you have already passed. For example, if you passed the exam but did not submit your coursework essays, you would not need to resit the exam. Portico should automatically re-enter you for the components that you need to complete. In cases of re-sits the best of the two attempts will count as the final mark.

    Failure to pass one or more elements of assessment

    In order to pass a course, you need to obtain an overall mark of 40 or more for each component of assessment. In the Geography Department, the overall coursework mark and the exam mark each count as one component. A mark below 40 for one or more exam questions or for a coursework essay will not necessarily result in the failure of the component as long as the average of that component is 40 or more.

    Failure to pass a course is not necessarily as serious as failure to complete it. In order to be eligible for an honours degree, students are required to pass only 11 of the 12 course units.

    However, please bear in mind that you must pass all compulsory units in order to be eligible for the named degree for which you are registered.

    If you fail a course, you have the opportunity to resit the component(s) that you failed. You do not need to re-attend the course, or to resit/resubmit components of assessment that you have already passed. For example, if you passed the coursework component but not the exam, you would not need to resubmit the coursework. Portico should automatically re-enter you for the component(s) that you need to resit.

    Grievances with the examination process

    Any grievances with the examination process should be addressed in the first instance to your personal tutor and/or Chair of the Undergraduate Examinations Board. Formal representations to the College are considered only if there appear to be genuine grounds for review of the result of the examination concerned on the basis of a problem with the process of examining. Representations on the grounds that the Examiners’ assessment of the performance of the candidate in the examination was incorrect, or against academic decisions properly arrived at in accordance with approved procedures, will not be considered. If you have a concern please speak to the relevant tutors first to see whether it can be resolved without recourse to grievance procedures.

    Feedback on examination performance

    It is UCL policy that exam scripts are not returned to students. However, it is possible to obtain some feedback on your performance in your second year exams by speaking to your personal tutor, who will provide you with a verbal overview of marker comments on your exam answers. Gathering such information takes time, however, so you should give your tutor plenty of advanced warning that you would like such feedback, together with an indication of which modules you would like feedback on.