First Public Examination
All students are required to pass the First Public Examination, referred to as Moderations (Mods), Honour Moderations (Honour Mods) or Preliminary Examinations (Prelims), depending on your course. To pass Honour Mods, a student will need to achieve an Honours classification, not just a pass degree level (see Academic Disciplinary procedures and Non-Academic Disciplinary procedures). These examinations will usually be taken in either Hilary or Trinity term of the first year; although for Classics they are taken in Hilary term of the second year. A second sitting of the First Public Examination will usually be held one term after the normal sitting, but those students who are already on academic probation will not be permitted to re-sit. Students may not resit more than once. Every year, one or two students may fail at this point. Students who fail, or who under-perform at this level, are often simply not suited to their chosen course, and they successfully transfer to other good universities.
Part 1 Final Honours Schools Examinations
Various courses (mainly in the sciences) have part of their final examinations in the second and/or third year which contributes a percentage of the marks toward the final degree classification. There is no timetabled second sitting for such examinations, so students who are unable to sit these examinations for medical reasons might need to take a complete year out. The College’s permission is required for this, and there will normally need to be serious medical grounds for this to be granted. If you have any concerns about your fitness to take an examination you should contact the College Nurse or the Heads of Wellbeing in the first instance.
It is often necessary to pass the Part 1 examination with honours or with equivalent to honours level marks to continue on your course. The College may require students to withdraw if they fail part of their final examinations, or if they only gain a ‘pass degree’ level. Failing at this stage is more problematic for the individual concerned, as they will leave without any formal qualification. However, failure at this stage is also rare. Some 4 year courses require a 2.1 level performance in the second or third year for continuation to the 4 year course and students may need to graduate with a BA qualification if they do not achieve the 2.1 level.
Final Honours Schools Examinations (or Part 2)
Many courses (particularly in the arts and social sciences) are examined on one set of Final Honours School examinations at the end of the course. Those courses which are divided into Parts will have the larger percentage of the marks awarded for the examinations at the end of the course.
Students will be classified as gaining a First, an Upper Second (2.1), a Lower Second (2.2), or a Third class honours degree. If they fail to reach the standard required for an honours degree, students may in very rare cases be awarded a pass degree, or they may fail altogether. At the end of the course, the university will provide a transcript of the marks for each examination paper which will give a more detailed picture of your performance within each classification.