Northumbria’s ‘no detriment policy’ means your grades can’t go below your current average

Get that prossecco poppin’ you’ve just passed the year

It’s the news that we all dreamt of hearing and some people were even campaigning for, Northumbria University has announced that they are bringing in a no-detriment policy for the rest of this year’s assessments. This means some students have automatically passed the year.

As coronavirus continues to attract news reporters and meme-makers alike, students lives are being turned upside down. Whether it’s self-isolating in halls or moving out and not paying for them at all, it’s a busy and confusing time.

In an email sent to Northumbria students, they were told that “this year has been like no other” and that emergency procedures had been implemented accordingly.

The email confirmed to students that the no-detriment policy was in place to protect their grades.

How does it work?


The university has adopted what’s known as a “no detriment policy” – the idea behind this is that no one will be disadvantaged in any way by COVID-19 disruption. Essentially, all the marks you’ve already achieved this year will be averaged out, and used to form a safety net meaning your final mark for the year will be at least that average. So assuming you’ve got an average above 40% so far this year, you’re deffo passing the year.

This doesn’t mean assessments are cancelled, those essays are still there waiting to be done, but if you don’t get the marks you were hoping for, you’re okay – if they don’t boost your semester one average, they don’t count!

I’m a final year student… does this mean I automatically graduate?

Afraid not. The university guidelines say that to achieve an honours degree you need to have passed a project or dissertation. Therefore, you still need to keep chipping away at that dissertation, however, the university has recognised the circumstances and given you a two week deadline extension to help you adjust to all the chaos.

Having said that, it’s not all bad news, as the no detriment policy will still apply for all your other modules. The majority of courses will have already completed 40 credits for your final year, these modules are again averaged out, and will be the minimum mark you pass all your other modules with (again, excluding the dissertation).

So, if you’re happy with your marks for your first semester, then focus on those finishing touches to your dissertation and get ready to wave uni goodbye.

(Not quite yet, as your graduation has been postponed, but again, the uni have promised it will be rearranged once we’re all out of this.)

Do I need to fill out a PEC?

To PEC or not to PEC? That is the question. For the most part, you won’t need to fill out a Personal Extenuating Circumstances form to access the no detriment policy or the dissertation extension. Put simply, COVID-19 is an extenuating circumstance, but it’s not personal, and because we’re all in the same boat we all get the policies above automatically.

Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t more support available for those that need it. Everyone is affected but some people may be carers, some people may not have access to the internet from home, and some might actually have the coronavirus. In these circumstances more support and more options are available including further extensions and the possibility to defer your assessments. Basically it comes down to the question “are your circumstances different to most of your peers?” If so, then it’s time to get that PEC form out. Remember, you can always send a quick email checking with your guidance tutor if you’re unsure.

For more information on assessments and any other COVID-19 related issues, go to the student portal.