Grades and Feedback

Unhappy with a grade you’ve been given? Unhelpful feedback? Here are some ideas for what you can do.

What to do if you’re not satisfied with a mark you have received?

It can be very disheartening to receive what you may consider a low grade for a piece of work, especially if you have spent a considerable amount of time and effort on it, and are perplexed as to where you have lost marks.

So if you are unhappy with the mark which you received for an assignment, the first thing for you to do is check through any written feedback which the marker has included (for instance on the feedback form, if there is one).

Some lecturers will provide a whole-class feedback session after submission of an assessed exercise. If your lecturer has done this, you may find some answers to questions you have about your work.

If the mark relates to an exam, you are entitled to arrange to request to view your original exam script, and to look at any comments made by the exam marker.  For more information please look at the University’s Exam Feedback Policy.

If you have identified places where you are weak, and feel that you need assistance with your study or essay writing techniques, please see what assistance is available from the Learning Enhancement and Academic Development Service and have a look at the guidance on ‘What is feedback?’

What do the marks actually mean?

The University has produced some resources to help you understand the marking system – in particular the Assessment and Feedback Toolkit.

There is also The Guide to the Code of Assessment which is a lengthy read but has lots of useful information, including Schedule A which lists the different grades and what they signify.

Talk to your teachers

Once you have read through the feedback, and if you are still not sure how you can improve, you might be able to arrange a meeting with the person(s) who marked your work, or if this is not possible, the course convenor. If you can arrange a meeting, the tutor will go through the feedback with you, pointing out areas where you may have done well, and where there may be room for improvement.

You may find it easier to talk with your Adviser of Studies, although of course not all Advisers are from the same subject area as their advisees, so they may not be able to give detailed subject-specific advice.  Some Advisers of Studies will have weekly ‘Office Hours’ and so that can be a good time to meet with them. If you are with the College of Arts you can contact the Arts Advising Team.

The purpose of this kind of meeting would be to find ways for you to improve your learning technique, and so it is unlikely that the markers are going to change their minds about the mark they awarded you and increase your grade on the spot.

Please remember that the University assumes that the examiners know more about the topic, and standards of work, than the students do.  Therefore there is no provision for you to question the academic judgement of the member of staff awarding you the mark.  If, however, there has simply been a arithmetical error or something similar, this may be corrected.

Talk to your SRC class representatives

If there is an issue which you think may be a class issue, you can also speak with your class rep and ask them to bring any concerns about teaching or learning to the Staff-Student Liaison Committees which take place every semester, or even to raise concerns with staff directly on your behalf between meetings. As an individual you can speak with your rep, but this would be particularly useful in instances where a whole class or seminar group may feel they haven’t done as well as they should, or they are having difficulties with the subject as a whole. If you are not sure who your class rep is please see the section ‘My Class Reps’ on your MyGlasgow page.

Who marked my work?

Assignments will be marked internally by members of University staff who are experts in the subject. Sometimes markers will be the lecturer for your class, but otherwise they will be other staff, such as General Teaching Assistants (GTAs).

Should my work always be marked by two different markers?

Although the University of Glasgow recognises that it is good practice for each piece of work to be marked by at least two members of staff, this is not always the case. Sometimes work will be marked by just one marker. This might be the case because only one member of staff has sufficient knowledge to mark the work.

Some students ask if a second marker can examine their work, but there is not as yet an automatic right for this to happen.  You can read more about this in the University’s Guidance on Moderation and Second Marking.

Can I request an external marker to assess my work?

External markers are part of the university’s quality control mechanism and are usually academic staff at other HE institutions. Usually the external markers will be able to examine a representative sample of the class work as a whole, but they will not be expected to examine, second or double mark every individual’s work.  You can ask for your work to be looked at by an external marker, but the University does not have to agree to it.

Can my mark ever change, or go up or down?

The grades awarded in summative assessment may be initially reported to students, but students should be made aware that assessment outcomes remain provisional until they are confirmed or otherwise by the Board of Examiners.  If there has been a mistake or some other defective procedure when your mark has been calculated, then it may change.  Examiners cannot guess at undemonstrated ability, so you cannot have extra marks added because you were ill when you wrote the essay, for example.

For Honours students, your final degree classification may change, if any of your work falls to be disregarded because your performance was impaired through ‘good cause’.  Alternatively, where there is no good cause, but your GPA lies in the discretionary zone between two classifications, the Board of Examiners has discretion over which classification to award you.  Again, this is subject to University guidance which aims to ensure that the Boards make fair and consistent decisions.  If you feel the Board has not made a fair decision in your case, you may request a copy of the Board of Examiners minutes as they relate to you, so that you can see what they took into account when deciding your final classification.

What’s the difference between summative and formative assessment?

Summative assessments contribute to your overall GPA.

Formative assessments are carried out throughout the year, and you can consider them as a kind of health check on your study technique and your grasp of the material.  The feedback obtained in formative assessments is useful to help you improve for when you have to do summative assessments later on.

Can I appeal against my mark?

If you wish to initiate the formal stage, and if you think you may have grounds for submitting an appeal, please see our Academic Appeals webpage for advice.

Please note the only grounds for appeal are :-

  • Unfair or defective procedure
  • A failure to take account of medical or other adverse personal circumstances
  • There are relevant medical or other adverse personal circumstances which for good reason have not previously been presented

A note on appeals based on unfair/defective procedure…

If you wish to go ahead with your appeal and you considering using the grounds of ‘unfair or defective procedure’ in your appeal, then bear in mind it can be difficult to apply this ground successfully to the feedback you have received. You should not appeal just because you think the mark you got was too low. Instead, you would have to make a good case to demonstrate that there has been unfairness or defective procedure in the way your mark was arrived at.  For example, you might have evidence to show that the feedback you received on a draft before submission was defective and that you were misled by any supervisory comments.  Or you might be able to show that the learning outcomes in the course handbook are at odds with the way the marker has marked the work.  You need to be clear that you are not questioning academic judgement. And you need to have evidence that unfair or defective procedure has occurred.  So you can probably see that this would be difficult (although not impossible) to carry off effectively.

Some examples of successful appeals using the ground of unfair or defective procedure in the past have included the wrong calculation of the grade, or a lateness penalty being unfairly applied to a piece of work.

If you feel that the quality of teaching has been poor or that the assignment was poorly supervised or there has been discrimination, then this may something that your class rep could take up on your behalf, or it may be cause for a formal complaint under the University Complaints Procedure.

For information about the appeals and complaints processes, and the key difference between them, please see our separate webpages on Appeals and Complaints.

For confidential discussion and advice on appeals or complaints processes, please speak to a member of the Advice Centre team.