Plymouth Safety Net

Our latest guidance for students following the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on teaching, learning and assessment


Exams and assessments

Coronavirus has affected virtually everyone in the UK in one way or another. Students will naturally have anxieties about loved ones, their own health, and final-year students may be worried about the economy as they seek employment after graduation. The most immediate way in which we can help mitigate the effects on you is by putting in place plans that assure the continued quality and relevance of your degree, whilst simultaneously trying to make sure that your marks don't suffer.

In addition, the University can help to some extent with managing your worries about these matters by providing mental health support and support through the Careers Service. 

Our aspiration has been to ensure that no student will do any worse than the position they were in as of Monday 16 March. As the University Teaching, Learning & Quality Committee has looked at how the Safety Net might work, and importantly at every set of different programme requirements across the University, it has become clear that using a cut-off date was not the fairest approach, would be unlikely to uphold academic standards and would not satisfy all our professional and regulatory bodies.

We have developed a comprehensive Safety Net, incorporating many different protective measures to ensure, where possible, that students are not unfairly impacted by the changes to their learning or assessment, and responds to the different academic programme requirements. We are confident that we have made our aspiration a reality for the majority of our students. However, as with any crisis, some people will be affected more than others by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with our very best efforts there are limits to how much we can practically do without compromising the integrity and value of the qualifications we award.

Below, we outline how we are helping students academically through the Plymouth Safety Net.


Alternative teaching, learning and assessments

We have reduced the assessment burden where possible and put in place alternative teaching, learning and assessments that are inclusive and reflect the change to online delivery of teaching and learning. As such, we are confident that, providing the remaining modules are passed, final year students will have opportunities to meet the programme learning outcomes, and would be able to receive their award.


Automatic extensions

All students have been granted automatic extensions, without the need for evidence. We have removed the requirement to submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim, either self-certified or corroborated, for any assessment that was due to be submitted on or after Monday 16 March 2020. This means all students will automatically be granted Extenuating Circumstances and assessments will not be subject to any penalty.

In light of the current situation, however, students that are unable to submit their assessments by published deadlines will be permitted to submit up to ten working days late without penalty.

If you are unable to submit assessments within those additional ten working days, this will be recorded as a non-submission and you will be offered re-assessment without penalty (i.e. at the same attempt).

For guidance on extensions for referred assessments due in the summer referral period, please refer to the FAQ below.


Changes to exams

There will be no face-to-face, invigilated examinations until the start of the next academic year, at which point the University will review the situation. Alternative assessment arrangements have been put in place.

Please note, where formal, invigilated examinations are replaced by alternative time-limited assessments, there will be no opportunity to submit these assessments late. However, in the event you are unable to submit by the published deadline, you will be offered a re-assessment opportunity without penalty in the same way as you would under the standard Extenuating Circumstances regulations for a non-attendance at a formal examination.


Updated: 28 May 2020

Is the University’s decision on the Safety Net in line with national guidance?

Over the last few weeks, the University’s Teaching, Learning and Quality Committee (UTLQC), and informed by the national quality guidance from the Office for Students and the Quality Assurance Agency, has been working through the details of how to implement all aspects of the Safety Net to ensure that you are supported, and that your awards retain their quality when you leave the University.


Updated: 27 April 2020

How are assessments and exams affected?

You should continue to prepare for assessments in the usual way as all modules will be assessed remotely. Alternative arrangements for invigilated examinations have been put in place.

Access your exam timetable


If your assignment cannot be submitted digitally (for example, artwork), your programme team will be in touch with details of alternative assessment arrangements.

If you are studying at one of our partner institutions, please follow any advice and guidance they have given you about face-to-face, invigilated examinations and any alternative assessment arrangements.

Please continue to check this web page, the DLE and your University email for updates.


Updated: 27 April 2020

How will the recent changes made by the University affect my progress?

Our aim is to make sure you can continue with your studies and progress at the same rate as you would with a normal teaching schedule. If you are due to complete your studies this year, we fully expect you to be able to do so.


Updated: 27 April 2020

Do I still have to complete remaining summative assessments?

Yes. You will still need to pass the required summative assessments in order to demonstrate you have met the course learning outcomes and be awarded credits so that you can either progress and/or receive a qualification. 


Updated: 27 April 2020


Calculation of marks

The University has changed how your stage aggregate mark (your overall mark for the year of study) has been calculated to mitigate, where possible, the impact of COVID-19.

The pass marks for your modules haven’t changed, and you still need to pass all of your modules. If you are not sure how your marks would normally be calculated, please check the results web page.

Where students have been unable to complete assessments or assessments are not passed, a same attempt referral will be granted, and the amount of credit permissible in the summer resit period (and extended referral) has been increased.

If you feel that you are not covered by the FAQs below, please contact your Faculty Team for more specific information.

How will my marks be calculated this year if I am studying an undergraduate programme or an integrated masters?

You must pass all modules you have studied this year. Your overall stage mark (your stage aggregate mark) will be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 60 credits. For example, if you study six 20 credit modules and achieve marks of 70% in four modules and marks of 50% in the other two modules, your overall stage mark will be calculated using three of the modules in which you achieved marks of 70%. 

The calculation of your marks may include your final year project/dissertation if it is part of your highest 60 credits.

Basing your overall mark only on the highest of your module marks will ensure you achieve the best outcome for the year. The lowest of your marks (in the other 60 credits you will have completed) will not form part of the calculation.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am a part-time undergraduate student, how will my marks be calculated?

You must pass all the modules you have studied this year. Your overall stage mark once you have completed 120 credits of a stage, will be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 60 credits.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am a foundation year student expecting to progress to Stage 1 (Level 4), how will my marks be calculated?

You still need to pass all of your modules to progress to your named degree. Your total mark will be calculated using the highest 60 of your credits. You may need to achieve a specific pass mark to progress to your named degree. This will be outlined in your Programme Specification. Your Faculty Office will be able provide further information, if you are unsure what this means for you.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am a foundation degree programme student (for example FdSc or FdA programmes), how will my marks be calculated?

You must pass all modules you have studied this year. Your overall stage mark (your stage aggregate mark) will be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 60 credits. Your final programme aggregate mark will be calculated using all of the level 4 module marks and the highest level 5 module marks totalling 60 credits.


Updated: 27 April 2020

What if I hadn’t completed 60 credits by 16 March 2020?

We are aware that some students may not have completed 60 credits by 16 March 2020. As a result, some of the marks included in the ‘best 60 credits’ calculation may have been impacted by the current COVID-19 situation, however, some marks for assessment submitted after 16 March 2020 may actually be higher so will improve your mark.

In order to try and mitigate, where possible, any negative impact there are several other aspects of the safety net that students can use, such as additional ten-day extension to deadlines or the option to not submit work and retake the module at another time when they may feel better placed to engage with the work. If a student submits work for and subsequently fails a module which had a published deadline after 16 March 2020 they will be permitted a reattempt opportunity as the same attempt.

Although it is not possible to tailor the safety net for individual programmes, we feel that what has been put in place should provide mitigation for the majority of students and those that feel they cannot fully engage at this time can choose to interrupt or delay submission of work.


Updated: 29 April 2020

My programme is subject to a professional, statutory, or regulatory body, how will my marks be calculated?

A large number of our awards are regulated or accredited by a professional or statutory body. For these awards, we need to have their support to apply our COVID-19 changes to regulations so that students graduate with the appropriate qualification. We are doing everything we can to make the case to professional bodies to be as accommodating as possible under these circumstances, but please be aware that these discussions are still ongoing. Please note that in some circumstances programmes subject to professional regulation may not be able to apply some, or all, aspects of the ‘safety net’ policy. If this is the case you will be communicated with separately by your Faculty. 


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am a postgraduate taught student, how will my marks be calculated?

If you are a masters student, you must pass all 180 credits of your programme, including your major project/dissertation module. Your final programme mark will then be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 100 credits, which may include your project/dissertation.

You will be awarded your Masters with Distinction if you have achieved a credit-weighted average mark of 70% in your highest 100 credits, as long as your project/dissertation score is not less than 60%. You will be awarded your Masters with Merit if you have achieved a credit-weighted average mark of 60% in your highest 100 credits, as long as your project/dissertation score is not less than 50%.

If you are studying a Postgraduate Diploma, you must pass all modules of your programme then your final programme mark will then be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 60 credits.

You will be awarded your Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction if you have achieved a credit-weighted average mark of 70% in your highest 60 credits. You will be awarded your Postgraduate Diploma with Merit if you have achieved a credit-weighted average mark of 60% in your highest 60 credits.

If you are studying a Postgraduate Certificate, you must pass all modules of your programme then your final programme mark will then be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 40 credits. 

You will be awarded your Postgraduate Certificate with Distinction if you have achieved a credit-weighted average mark of 70% in your highest 40 credits. You will be awarded your Postgraduate Certificate with Merit if you have achieved a credit-weighted average mark of 60% in your highest 40 credits.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I’m studying a masters programme over more than one year, how will my marks be calculated?

You must pass all the modules of your programme. Once you have completed all 180 credits, your final programme mark will then be calculated using the highest modules marks totalling 100 credits, which may include your project/dissertation.

Updated: 14 May 2020

How will my marks be calculated if I am studying for an MRes?

The mark you achieve for your dissertation will be used as your final programme mark unless using the standard calculation including all 180 credits gives you a higher mark.

Updated: 14 May 2020

I am studying with a Partner College, how will my marks be calculated?

We have been working closely with our Partner Colleges. Given the range of awards and number of partnerships, please refer to the separate communications you have/will receive on this from your College.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am an intercalated student studying at Plymouth, how will my marks be calculated?

If you are an intercalating student, your Faculty team will be able to provide you with information about the Safety Net will apply to your programme.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am on an apprenticeship programme, how will my marks be calculated?

Given the range of different types of apprenticeships we offer, please refer to your Apprenticeship Reviewer for specific guidance on this.


Updated: 27 April 2020

I am completing a Level 6 top up programme, how will my marks be calculated?

You must pass all the modules you have studied this year. Your overall stage mark will be calculated using the highest module marks totalling 60 credits.


Updated: 27 April 2020

What happens if I do not pass some of my modules?

As usual, Award Assessment Boards will make decisions on what happens if you do not pass some of your modules. This year we have increased the amount of module credits which students can be referred in, so if you fail up to 80 credits worth of modules, you will be referred. This means you will complete assessments over the summer and if you pass these, you can progress to the next stage of your studies or be awarded your degree. Excluding modules completed in Semester One, your attempts at the referred modules will be the same attempt as you took the modules this year. This means that if the referral is your first attempt, your module marks will not be capped.

If you fail in more than 80 credits' worth of modules, you will come back next year and repeat those modules. Excluding modules completed in Semester One, your attempts at the repeated modules will be at the same attempt as you took the modules this year.


Updated: 27 May 2020

When will I receive my feedback and marks?

Staff continue to work hard to facilitate alternative approaches for you in these highly unusual circumstances. This may mean you will receive feedback on assessments later than would normally be the case. The feedback for coursework will be in the same format as you usually receive. The feedback you will receive for any open-book examination assessments will be less extensive as would be the case for invigilated examinations. 

Due to changes we have made to mitigate the disruption caused by COVID-19, the release of results from Award Boards will be on 13th July 2020.

Transcripts confirming marks for all stages of study will be available online from this date. The University will not print and post transcripts for final year students. All online transcripts will bear the University crest.


Updated: 27 April 2020

Will I see all my module marks on my transcript or just my best credits?

Yes, all modules you studied this year will show on your transcript along with the marks you achieved for each of them.

Updated: 14 May 2020

When will the summer referral period begin?

Following the publication of results on 13 July, you will be informed of any referred assessment tasks. The University has extended the time for students to complete referred coursework. The deadline for the submission of referred coursework is 20 August 2020. The referred examination period, which will be in the same alternative time-limited assessment format used for the May examinations, will be from 24 August until 1 September 2020.


Updated: 27 April 2020

Will I get an extension for referred assessments due in the summer referral period?

You will be permitted to submit referred assessments up to five working days late without penalty. This is to give you the best opportunity to complete your referred assessments where possible and provide sufficient time for marking prior to the referred board.

As with previous assessments, if you are unable to submit within those additional five working days, this will be recorded as non-submission and you will be offered re-assessment without penalty. This five day extension will not apply to timed assessments in lieu of formal, invigilated examinations; students who are unable to complete these assessments will be given a reassessment opportunity at the same attempt.

Please note, in some circumstances such extensions may not apply to programmes subject to professional, statutory or regulatory body requirements. If this is the case you will be communicated with separately by your Faculty.

Updated: 28 May 2020