Degree Outcomes Statement

The University of Hertfordshire’s Undergraduate Degree Classification methodology

The University’s methodology for the Honours classification of its undergraduate awards is described in its ‘University Policies and Regulations’, in UPR AS14 (Structure and Assessment Regulations - Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate Programmes), section D6. All staff and students are directed to this single source for confirmation of the methodology.

The University’s methodology was approved by its Academic Board in 2012, a variant of a methodology first approved in 2007. All University of Hertfordshire Bachelor’s Degrees with Honours are classified on the following basis:

1.1 A classification grade is calculated from:

  1. the average numeric grade of the best 90 credits at Level 6 or higher; and
  2. the average numeric grade of the best remaining 90 credits at Level 5 or higher; and
  3. a combined average numeric grade, weighted 75% (i) and 25% (ii).

1.2 Honours classification is considered on the basis of this combined average numeric grade:

  1. For a first class Honours award a candidate must achieve a combined average numeric grade of 69.50 or more;
  2. For an upper second class Honours award a candidate must achieve a combined average numeric grade of 59.50 or more;
  3. For a lower second class Honours award a candidate must achieve a combined average numeric grade of 49.50 or more;
  4. For a third class Honours award a candidate must achieve a combined average numeric grade of 39.50 or more.

These classification requirements should be read in conjunction with UPR AS14, section D6, which describes further detail, for instance on how grades above 90 are capped for classification purposes, on how direct entrants to level 5 or 6 of programmes are classified, on the effect of failed and compensated modules on classification and on additional requirements imposed by Professional or Statutory-Regulatory Bodies. The equivalent Honours classification requirements for Integrated Master’s Degrees are described in UPR AS14, section D6.2. The University also awards a Grade-Point Average (GPA) alongside Honours Degree classification, based upon Grade Points achieved in all modules that contribute credit towards the Degree, as described in UPR AS14, section D8.

The chosen methodology satisfies the following principles:

  • This single classification methodology is simple and transparent to all stakeholders;
  • Absolute classification boundaries, with no discretion to move them, ensures consistent practice across the University’s examination boards;
  • The ‘best 90’ approach forgives a ‘slip-up’ in terms of unrepresentative performance in one or two modules, and so encourages students to attempt from their perspective more challenging (and therefore riskier) modules;
  • The credit requirements drive more even student effort across all level 5 and 6 modules.

This methodology, along with the principles governing the methodology, was developed and approved with the full engagement of the University’s student representative body and in consultation with the University’s external examiners.

University of Hertfordshire degree classification profile, 2014/15 to 2018/19

The University measures degree classification attainment in terms of the number of First Class Honours awards plus Upper Second Class Honours awards as a proportion of all Honours Degree awards (referred to in the HE sector as the proportion of ‘Good’ Honours awards). Degree attainment for University of Hertfordshire students over a five-year period is presented below, by student characteristics and in comparison to the UK HE sector:

 

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

UK HE sector

69%

69%

71%

72%

73%

University of Hertfordshire (UH)

65%

65%

66%

65%

66%

UH Full-time students

65%

65%

66%

65%

66%

UH Part-time students

60%

61%

62%

63%

70%

UH male students

63%

62%

66%

63%

63%

UH female students

66%

68%

66%

67%

68%

UH Home/EU students

67%

67%

67%

67%

67%

UH overseas students

52%

54%

59%

53%

60%

UH non-disabled students

65%

65%

66%

65%

66%

UH disabled students

65%

66%

67%

68%

69%

UH non-BAME students

75%

76%

74%

76%

77%

UH BAME students

55%

55%

57%

56%

57%

Variations in outcomes are multifactorial and as such more complex than simply considering individual student characteristics as set out in the table. Entry qualifications, fee status and socio-economic background are all factors affecting degree outcomes. A large proportion of the University’s courses are accredited, approved or regulated by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs), and their constraints are also significant . Additionally, there are subject variations in degree outcomes across the UK HE sector and students entering with BTEC qualifications perform less well than A level students.

The University has in place a range of actions to address the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) attainment gap, as identified in the University’s Access and Participation Plan for 2020/21 to 2024/25.

Further information

There have been no significant changes to assessment and marking practices, which continue to be designed to ensure rigour and stretch and have resulted in consistently excellent employability outcomes for all University of Hertfordshire students.

To address the attainment gap between BAME and White students, learning and teaching has focussed on personalised learning, inclusive teaching practice and compassion-focussed pedagogy. The University values and celebrates the teaching expertise of staff and 81% of academic staff hold teaching fellowships with Advance HE (compared to a UK sector average of 47%). Despite reduced levels of entry qualification, ‘good degree’ outcomes and value-added scores have slightly improved. Strategic investment in the learning environment including significant investment in learning resources has resulted in a sustained improvement to NSS scores which are consistently above the sector average.

The University’s Academic Standards and Audit Committee is responsible to the Academic Board for assessment policies and regulations relating to academic standards of all taught awards, including those delivered through partnership arrangements. The University has established Board of Examiners structures and processes (outlined in UPR AS14, section C), which ensures marking practices are followed and assessment regulations consistently applied. External examiner reports confirm that the university’s processes for the determination of awards are sound and fairly conducted.

Following a consultation exercise with the University’s external examiners for taught provision, this Degree Outcomes Statement was considered and approved by the Academic Standards and Audit Committee on 5 May 2020, by the Academic Board on 24 June 2020 and finally the Board of Governors on 14 July 2020. It will be reviewed by the Board of Governors on a five-yearly cycle.