Additional Safety Net for 2021

We are putting some additional 'safety net' arrangements in place to support students taking assessments this year.  

University Senate has approved a number of proposals that will strengthen even further the ‘safety net’ arrangements we have put in place for you, to ensure that those of you who have been most severely impacted by this pandemic are supported, whilst also protecting the integrity of your degree results for your long-term careers.

Senate has now approved the following additional ‘safety net’ measures to apply for this academic year:

Safety Net 1 (undergraduate students only) 

That all undergraduate students having their award calculated at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, whose weighted average module mark is identified by the student record system as ‘borderline’ (boundary -2) will be automatically raised to the higher degree classification. For example, a student with a weighted average module mark of 58, will automatically be awarded a 2:1 classification. *  

Safety Net 2 (postgraduate taught students only) 

That all postgraduate taught students who achieve an average module mark at boundary -2 will achieve the higher classification without the need to achieve a dissertation mark in the higher classification. For example, a student with an average module mark of 58 will automatically be awarded a Merit, without the requirement to obtain a dissertation mark of 60 or higher.  

Safety Net 3 (undergraduate and postgraduate students)  

That all undergraduate and postgraduate students who fail a module at the second and final attempt and where this fail cannot be condoned, will get an automatic further capped reassessment attempt, provided this is not prohibited by a professional or regulatory body regulating their programme of study.

Safety Net 4 (undergraduate and postgraduate students) 

That subject and programme examination boards will be asked at their SEM2 examination boards to review the performance on their modules against the previous 2 years and - where appropriate - to scale the module marks for the entire module cohort to compensate for any disadvantage which is apparent from the cohort performance.  

Safety Net 5 (Foundation Year students) 

That Foundation Year students will pass the Foundation Year if they achieve 120 credits by passing modules to the value of at least 90 credits with a pass mark of 40% or above and achieve a mark of at least 30 or above in the remaining modules, subject to these failed modules meeting the normal requirements for condonement. To progress to their chosen programme at Keele, students will also need to achieve the subject-specific Semester 2 requirements (as previously advertised to them) but those subject-specific progression mark requirements will be lowered by 5%. In the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, students also need to pass all Semester 1 modules with a mark of 40 or above. 

* For clarification, Senate approved this measure to apply to students who are identified by the student record system as ‘borderline’ as a result of the standard degree algorithm, not the contingency algorithm. The ‘borderline’ process does not apply to the contingency calculation.


There may be a number of reasons for this. It could be either that you are on a programme with professional accreditation, where the professional body requirements do not permit these arrangements (for example Veterinary Medicine students). It may be that you either study a Keele programme overseas, or fully online, or are currently undertaking Study Abroad; your School will be able to explain the reason why your programme is exempt from these measures. 

These measures will come into effect on 18th March 2021 and will apply for the remainder of the calendar year (to 31st December 2021). 

The student records system has an algorithm to identify those students who narrowly miss out on the higher classification (known as 'borderline'). Normally, students identified as 'borderline' by the records system would only have their classification raised to the higher classification after consideration and agreement by the final examination board. However, in 2020-21, all identified students will automatically be awarded the higher classification. There is nothing that you need to do. For clarification: this measure was approved by Senate to apply to students who are identified by the student record system as 'borderline' as a result of the standard degree algorithm, not the contingency algorithm. The 'borderline' process does not apply to the contingency calculation.

Each university designing a safety net has to build this on its existing regulations, to balance mitigating the impact of the pandemic on students with ensuring we protect the value of their degrees. Our academic regulations are very different from those of the University of York and are already generous, for example by allowing condonement and having an in-built borderline rule. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to import a safety net approach intended for another university.  

Students who were in level 5, (or in level 6 of an integrated Masters programme), last academic year, will still benefit from the dual degree algorithm approach we approved last year.

It is not possible to have this approach apply to the current level 5 students, as there are insufficient marks recorded prior to the pandemic to calculate an alternative degree algorithm.

You should continue to aim to get as high a mark on your dissertation as possible this academic year, as you would in all academic years. However, exceptionally this year, the requirement in Regulation D2: 4.2.2 will be suspended and you therefore do not need to get the higher classification mark in your dissertation to get the higher award, provided you obtain the overall average module mark required for the higher classification. If you fail your dissertation, the normal reassessment rules will apply. 

You will first be able to take reassessment of your module in the normal way. If you fail that reassessment, we will then check your overall module results to see if your failure can be condoned. If that is not possible, you will be offered a third and final attempt at the assessment for the module to give you maximum chance to pass the module and progress / graduate.  

  • If you fail a Semester One module in January, you will take reassessment in the May/June reassessment period. If you then fail that reassessment, you will be offered a third and final attempt over the summer reassessment period.
  • If you fail a Semester Two module in May, you will take reassessment over the summer reassessment period. If you then fail that reassessment, but you have met the requirements to progress to your next level of study, you will be offered a third and final attempt during the next academic year.

Yes, you must still meet the normal credit thresholds to progress to your next level of study. 

If you have not met this by the start of the next academic year, you will be offered the opportunity to repeat your current level of study, provided you have not already taken advantage of a repeat year. 

Yes, but you will now be offered a third and final attempt on any modules that you fail after the normal maximum allowed two attempts.  If you do not have time to undertake this reassessment by the end of this academic year, you will be allowed to take this next academic year and your award will be recalculated then. 

Exceptionally, if the examination board for your programme considers that there is a demonstrable negative impact of the performance of your cohort in a module, they may decide to scale the marks. This process will be carried out in accordance with strict guidance (which will be issued to examination boards closer to the time) from the University and overseen by the external examiner for your subject. If any scaling does take place, it will take place before the publication of confirmed module results and there is nothing you will need to do.