The degree classification profile for Swansea University for the academic years 2014/15 to 2018/19 is illustrated in the table below.
benchmark (1st or 2:1)
(1st or 2:1)
The data shows that that the University’s profile of First and Upper Second Class Honours Degrees has shown growth over this period in line with the sector as a whole and is marginally higher than the overall sector average. Maintaining the standards and enhancing the quality of the University’s programmes is essential to ensure students have the best chance of graduating with First or Upper Second class degrees and to enable them to secure graduate employment. The University’s approach to developing and maintaining high quality programmes, excellent learning and teaching and support for students underpins the University’s excellent performance in this area and is comparable across the sector.
The impact of the ’Safety Net’ policy on 2019/20 outcomes to account for the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic in March 2020, has led to a small increase in degree outcomes across the sector, as Universities moved to ensure student performance was protected. Swansea University remains in line with the sector in terms of such outcomes.
Growth in the profile of degree outcomes, notably First Class and Upper Second Class outcomes, are attributable to a range of factors focused on enhancement of quality, standards and the student experience:
- Continued enhancements in learning and teaching pedagogy, assessment, student experience and student support, including Academic Mentoring, which has impacted positively on student performance and outcomes.
- A focus on and improvements in weaker subject areas providing increased consistency across the portfolio. The University consistently reviews across a range of metrics the performance of modules and programmes, and this includes the breadth of degree outcomes, across the range awarded.
- Improvements from students with entry qualifications other than A/AS Levels, particularly Access Courses.
For all programmes learning outcomes and assessment are clearly mapped against the QAA Quality Code, meet PSRB requirements, consider QAA Subject benchmark statements and align to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and Credit and Qualifications Framework Wales. This provides assurance that degree standards are maintained and that external experts, (PSRBs representatives, service users, students, employers, stakeholders) inform and quality assure our programmes.
The University’s Assessment and Feedback Policy (updated 2020) provides principles of assessment and requirements and drives enhancement in assessment practice. The Policy includes requirements for marking and assessment design, and links to the University’s regulations for Assessment and Award. Assessment design and marking is also overseen by expert External Examiners, who review and approve assessment design to ensure consistency and validity, and provide an annual report on assessment processes and attend the relevant Examination Boards.
Implementation of the policy is supported by an extensive Code of Practice for Learning, Teaching and Assessment and by the Swansea Academy for Learning and Teaching and Swansea Academy for Inclusivity and Learner Support.
In addition, all academic staff new to HE have to complete the PG Cert Teaching in Higher Education, through which they are introduced to the QAA Quality Code, all aspects of programme and assessment design and quality assurance processes. Further workshops covering all aspects of assessment and marking are provided by the Swansea Academy for Learning and Teaching.
Academic governance is essential to protecting the value of qualifications that are awarded by the University. The Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee is responsible for the oversight of Quality and Standards, and provides an Annual report to the University’s Council (Governors), which provides assurance to them that quality and standards are being maintained. As part of the HEFCW Quality Assessment Framework for Wales, Governors are asked to confirm a number of statements on an annual basis including, for providers with degree awarding powers, that the standards of awards for which they are responsible have been appropriately set and maintained.
To assist the Governors in making that assurance, there is a reporting mechanism that feeds up through the institution via Faculty/School and Institutional level Quality Assurance Committees and Boards to the Learning and Teaching Committee. There is also a Collaborative Partnership Board, which oversees all Partnership arrangements. Together, this governance structure ensures local bodies are empowered, but the University has clear oversight of quality and standards.
The University’s Quality Review process is replacing standard cyclical Periodic Programme Review, and comprises Annual Module Review, Annual Programme Review and Quality Reviews which are designed to review in depth areas which require support, without reducing scrutiny in high performance areas. Together, these approaches ensure the University has clear oversight and regular dialogue around the quality and standards of its provision, which underpins degree outcomes.
The External Examiners and External Subject Specialises are critical to the design, approval and ongoing review of programmes, and are engaged in all design or review of programmes.
At institutional level, the Progression and Awards Board receives a Faculty/School level External Examiner report, and provides an institutional report to the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee. Faculties/Schools are required to provide a response at local level, and the University responds to and oversees any action taken in response to External Examiner Reports at institutional level.
Regulations are overseen by the Academic Regulations and Cases Board and are kept under review, with an annual review point to ensure they remain current and fit for purpose.
Swansea University’s classification regulations are published within its Academic Regulations. These regulations are kept under review.
The candidate’s class of degree will normally be determined by the weighted average mark for all modules, including marks of the tolerated failures, contributing to the honours assessment using the following classification boundaries:
Band 3: Best marks achieved in 80 credits pursued at Level 6, given a weighting of 3
Band 2: Level 6 marks from the remaining 40 credits pursued and the best marks achieved in 40 credits pursued at Level 5, given a weighting of 2
Band 1: Marks achieved in remaining Level 5 credits pursued, with a weighting of 1
|At least 70.00% up to 100%||First Class Honours Degree|
|At least 60% and less than 69.99%||Upper Second Class Honours Degree|
|At least 50% and less than 59.99%||Lower Second Class Honours Degree|
|At least 40% and less than 49.99%||Third Class Honours Degree|
Window of Opportunity: Students who are within 2% of the classification boundary can be considered for uplift to the next classification if they satisfy the following criteria.
Preponderance Principle: In order that the student be awarded the higher classification, a student must have achieved marks in the higher classification band in modules attracting a credit weighting equal to half or more of those contributing to the degree classification.
Exit Velocity: The University Progression and Awards Board shall consider the non-weighted average of the Final Year of Study. Where the student's Final Year average is in the higher classification band, the University Progression and Awards Board shall normally award the higher class degree.
Degree outcomes data is one of the key sets of data reviewed by programmes as part of ongoing Annual Module and Programme Review and in depth Quality Reviews. Effective practice is routinely identified through these quality processes, and published in the University’s Effective Practice Directory.
Alongside regular monitoring, the University has been focusing on continuous enhancement of the student experience, with particular effort place on enhancement in the following areas which directly impact on student performance:
Learning and Teaching Pedagogy
The University supports and enables the ongoing enhancement of learning and teaching, with ongoing innovation and improvement across all Faculties/Schools. Along with support from the Swansea Academy for Learning and Teaching, Faculty/School Education Leads meet regularly, and are focused on enhancing approaches within their areas. The University recognises and rewards learning and teaching through specific career pathways and engagement with the HE Fellowship process.
Assessment and Feedback
The University has been focusing on the enhancement of Assessment and Feedback for some time, and has recently appointed a Dean of Assessment and Feedback to continue this enhancement.
The University has introduced Academic Mentors to provide a focus on academic development, with more pastoral support managed by Professional Services.
Centre for Academic Success
The Centre for Academic Success provides a wide range of study skills support for students, leading to a clear improvement in student engagement with and performance in assessments.