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This page was last updated on 4 February 2021

Please read ALL FAQs before submitting an enquiry in the Help and Support section of your Student Portal.

Please be aware that as a result of these supportive measures the University is dealing with a large volume of requests. If you have submitted an enquiry, a Late Authorisation (extension) request or a Personal Extenuating Circumstances claim, we will respond as soon as possible. Please be assured that you will not be disadvantaged by any administrative processing time. In order to minimise any delays please refrain from contacting Ask4Help for a status update on an existing enquiry.

How will the University make decisions on my academic performance?

Decisions are taken in line with the University’s Assessment regulations, and the each programme has External Examiners who provide moderation and oversight. We have a several policies that ensure the way we assess students is appropriate for the level of study and comparable across each programme, and that all student work is marked fairly and consistently. We do this by:

· A formal process requiring academics to have the assessments they have set on their module to be reviewed internally and this is then open to external review by asking an academic (External Examiners) from another University to provide any further comment. We call this the internal and external approval of assessment tasks. This process not only ensures that our assessments are internally consistent and but also confirms the way we assess students is in keeping with assessments set in other universities

· Ensuring academics from within and outside the University anonymously moderate a sample of work on each module, to check that marking is fair and consistent. We call this internal and external moderation of assessed work, and External Examiners provide a full written annual review of the processes they are involved in.

· Reviewing performance on each module, in line with the performance of previous years, and the performance of each module across the full diet of programme’s modules by level; and analysing the statistics on how students’ have performed on every module. We normally compare the current years’ statistics with the year before, to look for patterns, trends and significant differences in student achievement; if there are significant issues we apply a TEC to adjust results

All students are considered by a Programme Assessment Board (PAB) at the end of a stage/level of study and also when they complete a qualification. The PAB is responsible for applying University assessment regulations consistently, so that fair decisions are made on whether a student can progress to the next level of study or what classification they should be awarded. An External Examiner is present at the PAB.

There is lots of information on our web pages explaining how we manage assessment. You may be particularly interested in these summary documents which have been developed for / by students:

How is Northumbria University helping students whose assessments are affected by Covid-19?

The University acknowledges that this has been, and continues to be, an unusual year for students. Adjustments have already been made to learning and teaching for 2020/21 to facilitate blended and on-line learning; accordingly our assessment regulations will also be adapted to continue our support for students. We are doing this whilst also maintaining the quality and standards of university degrees – this is essential to protect the reputation of the University, our graduates and their qualifications. 


The ways we are supporting students are as follows:-

  • Late Authorisation (extension) requests are being approved up to the maximum 10 working days for the majority of eligible assessments without the need to supply any evidence. If further time is required this may be approved at the discretion of the Programme Leader.
  • The evidence requirements have been relaxed for Personal Extenuating Circumstances claims relating to Covid-19 disruption.


In addition, unless there are Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body limitations (see FAQ below) the University will automatically apply a Technical Extenuating Circumstances (TEC) protocol.  The “Covid-19 TEC” means we will:

  • Offer students who fail any assessments the opportunity to have another attempt; we call this a deferral – the deferral mark will not be capped unless it was already a resit.
  • Consider whether students can carry forward a deferral to the next level of study (sometimes called trailing a module).


Furthermore, to support final year students, we will:

  • Apply a 2-week extension to all dissertation/ major project submission deadlines in semester 2. You do not need to apply for this, we will update your submission deadline.
  • Ensure that the Programme Assessment Board will note any material differences between level 5 and level 6 results. See Classifying undergraduate degrees in 2020/21 for more information about how we will calculate your degree this academic year.


We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and remain flexible should further adjustments be needed. 

How is Northumbria University helping students whose assessments are affected by the Cyber Incident in August / September?

In many cases the University has already adjusted your assessment to reflect the disruption caused by the cyber incident during Semester 1. This included PECs and extensions for individuals impacted by the incident and, where groups were affected, adjustments were made to assessment tasks or timing.


In addition, unless there is a limitation from a Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body, the University will apply a TEC which means that:


  • Students who fail semester 1 assessments (including elements of a yearlong module) will be offered the opportunity to have another attempt; this is called a deferral – the deferral mark will not be capped unless it was already a resit. No additional evidence or PEC is required for this deferral.
  • The end of year Programme Assessment Board (normally in June or August) will consider any material differences between semester 1 (January 2021) assessment results and semester 2 (May 2021) assessment results when considering progression and award.

What is a Programme Assessment Board?

A Programme Assessment Board is a group of academics and senior administrators who convene at the end of the academic year to confirm the progression and award status of students based on their confirmed marks and University regulations. The External Examiner/s is part of the PAB. The PAB must ensure the quality and standards of Northumbria degrees. Northumbria University assessment regulations apply to all students and the PAB ensures this is done fairly. In 2020/21 PABs will ensure that the Cyber-TEC and Covid-19-TEC are correctly applied for all students, and will also consider any further Personal Extenuating Circumstances.

What is a TEC and what evidence do I need for the Covid-19 TEC?

A Technical ExtenuatingCircumstance (TEC) is raised by the University and normally relates to an assessment issue which was beyond the control of individual or groups of students. As the Covid-19 TEC is part of a University wide response to an emergency scenario i.e. the ongoing pandemic, you are not required to provide any evidence. The TEC will be considered at the Programme Assessment Board and will be automatically applied.

What is a PEC and what evidence do I need?

A Personal Extenuating Circumstance (PEC) claim relates to you personally – normally it is an extreme medical or life matter which you feel might have significantly affected your performance in examinations or other forms of assessment. Personal Extenuating Circumstances should cover situations that are both unforeseen and unpreventable. PECs are considered by a special confidential committee in advance of the Programme Assessment Board.  If you are experiencing extenuating circumstances which are not as a result of Covid-19, and you need support, you can do so by submitting a PEC claim; you will be required to submit evidence.  For PECs related to Covid-19 please provide as much information and evidence as you can, but you won’t normally be asked for further evidence.

Why would I submit a PEC when the TEC is applied?

Even though the University will automatically apply a TEC to Semester 1 and Semester 2 assessments, you may still wish to seek support where your extenuating circumstances are not related to Covid-19. This may be for ongoing health conditions or serious personal issues impacting your academic performance which may persist beyond your semester 2 assessments. When a PEC claim is submitted you may receive additional pastoral support from the Student Engagement Team; PEC claims (other than related to Covid) need to be evidenced.

I had a referral / deferral at the end of last academic year – am I still covered by the revised regulations?

Yes. All students who had not completed their 19/20 studies due to a referral, deferral, or a dissertation extension, will be considered under the revised regulations including the TEC.

What happens if my programme is a Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (e.g. Nursing, Teaching, Social Work, Law, Architecture, Psychology …)

Your Programme Leader will be in touch to advise how the TEC will apply on your programme to ensure that you are supported in line with the requirements of your specialist programme.

We still can’t attend on campus classes - how are you managing practical programmes?

The University must comply with government rules. We hope that you can attend labs and studios on campus soon and will prioritise practical programmes for early return to campus. Some adjustments have already been made to learning, teaching and assessment for 2020/21 e.g. software has been made available for remote use, videos and other simulations have been completed.


Further adjustments may be made if needed, especially if practical work continues to be affected by government Covid-19 rules. We will do everything we can to support student learning and progression. Find out more in Engagingwith your blended learning programme during Covid-19

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