Revealed: How Southampton Uni’s no detriment policy will actually work

No work from Semester Two will count, other than final year dissertations and projects


New details have emerged regarding how Southampton Uni’s no detriment policy will actually affect students.

According to emails sent to students, no work from Semester Two will count towards students’ degrees, other than final year dissertations and projects.

The Soton Tab has seen emails sent to students in multiple subjects, including Biological Sciences, Electronics and Computer Science, Social Sciences and Maths, which all have similar content, although do have slight subject-specific variations in wording. A University spokesperson clarified the emails’ content varies due to “the complexity” of the curriculum. The full comment can be seen below.

This morning, Humanities students were sent an email saying how the no detriment policy will work for them is “taking longer than expected” to work out. They will be updated as soon as possible, “at the latest by the end of Monday”.

Over the Easter holidays, students were told the University was implementing a no detriment policy, meaning their grade average can’t go below what they achieved before 22nd March. There had been confusion about what this policy actually means in terms of students’ grades and how the University would calculate our degree classification, but now these emails reveal the following:

Third years can improve their grades with their diss

An email obtained by The Soton Tab says third year’s grades will be taken from whichever is higher, out of their Semester One average or an “enhanced mark”, made up of their Semester One average and the mark they get in their project or dissertation.

The email explains how the Uni will work out these marks, accounting for weightings where things are worth different amounts of credits. After these two marks are calculated, whichever is higher will then be used when working out students’ overall degree classification.

This means if a student’s diss grade is higher than their Semester One average, it will bring their grades up, but if it’s lower it doesn’t matter as it won’t count.

Semester Two won’t count for first or second years

However, second year students have been told their Semester One average will now account for their whole year, and therefore any work from Semester Two won’t count at all towards their overall degree classification. An email obtained by The Soton Tab says the University policy on degree classifications will mostly try to “minimise the reliance on semester 2 modules”.

First years have been told there have been no changes made to them. Normally, first year assessments do not count towards overall degree classification, so there will be no changes to this.

The Uni will look at Semester Two work if students are close to a grade boundary

An email obtained by The Soton Tab says when students’ degree classifications are given, if you are within two per cent of the next grade boundary, all work “contributing to the classification” will be considered. This will then include work submitted in Semester Two.

Another email, sent final years students, says: “To be clear, the assessments we have asked you to complete in Semester Two will only affect your classification if your final average mark is close to a degree classification boundary.”

Students can progress to next year, if they submit the work for Semester Two

An email obtained by The Soton Tab says: “The University has said that all students who complete the assessments we have asked you to undertake in Semester Two will be permitted to progress to the next Part of your programme regardless of any failed modules in Semester One.”

In a small number of cases this will not be the case, and the email says: “We will be in contact with you once we have the outcomes of the semester 2 assessment to discuss with you what and provide guidance”.

The email says students who are repeating the year “must take the revised assessment at the end of Semester Two”, and will then will have their degrees classified in future on the same basis as all other continuing students.

If you failed modules in Semester One and had special considerations, then your average will be based on your other Semester One marks.

If you failed modules in Semester One and have not asked for special considerations, your Semester One mark will be “calculated replacing the marks for those modules with the module pass mark” – meaning you pass Semester One and can progress to next year.

A University of Southampton spokesperson said:

“The University of Southampton announced in April that we would take a ‘no-detriment’ approach to minimise the impact, as a result of COVID-19, on students’ ability to demonstrate their academic achievement this year.

“Yesterday (14 May), all taught students, received an email from their Deputy Head of School (Education) – or similar – to outline what this meant for each specific student/programme in relation to how their degree would be awarded and classified.

“The specific arrangements for each programme vary due to the complexity of our curriculum, therefore it wasn’t possible to send a single all-student message on this matter.”

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