UCL Home



Pass Mark and Grades

The passmark for masters and postgraduate diploma courses at UCL is 50%.  Staff at UCL are not allowed to issue the actual marks awarded, only grades.  Marks can only be issued by the Registrar’s Division.  The following grading system is that adopted by the Bartlett, and is standard throughout UCL and the University of London for postgraduate courses.  A mark of 70% or above is considered of distinction quality.

Grade    A       70 - 100%

             B       60 - 69%

             C       50 - 59%

             Fail    0 - 49%

There are 3 parts to the assessment for the MSc Built Environment: Environmental Design and Engineering (EDE), namely, the coursework, the unseen written examinations and the dissertation.  Of the seven compulsory modules in the EDE course, three have unseen written examinations, as follows:

     EE1:  Built Environment: The energy context

     EE3:  Building Solar Design

     EE4:  Natural and Mechanical Ventilation of Buildings

The compulsory EDE modules, EE2: Health and Comfort in Buildings, EE6: Efficient Building Services Systems, and EE7: Methods of Environmental Analysis, are all assessed solely on coursework.

You will be awarded an overall mark for each module, which will be the only marks given on your transcript on completion of the course.  Where the module contains an unseen written examination, this will count for 50% of the total marks for the module.  Clearly where there is no examination, the mark awarded for the module will be purely that for the coursework.

Coursework Weightings and the Calculation of the Overall Module Mark

As can be seen from the schedule above, some of the coursework counts towards the final mark more than others.  This is expressed as a weighting.  The total weighting for each module is 100.  The individual items of coursework have weightings ranging from 5 to 100.  You could look at this weighting very mechanistically to determine the amount of time you should spend on each element.  For example, a 15 credit module is defined as approximately 150 hours of work.  This includes not just time spent in seminars, but also your private study time, time to carry out coursework, to revise for examinations, to sit the examination and so on.  This means that you should spend, very approximately, 30 hours on a 20-weighted piece of work, and 75 hours on a 50-weighted piece of work!

The following example sets out how you can calculate your final total mark for a module, say EE1: Built Environment: The energy context, from the individual marks awarded.

EE1: BUILT ENVIRONMENT: The energy context
Weighting Mark Awarded for Item of Work Grade for Item of Work Weighted Mark Overall Grade for Coursework for Examination and for Module
c/w 1 5 65 B 65 × 5 = 325
c/w 2 45 80 A 80 × 45 = 3600
Coursework Mark 3925 ÷ 50 ≈ 79 A
exam 1 50 38 Fail 38 × 50 = 1900
Exam Mark 1900 ÷ 50 = 38 Fail
Whole Module ((79 × 50) + (38 × 50)) ÷ 100 = 58.5 ≈ 59 but see below C (a pass)
or avoiding rounding errors ((65 × 5) + (80 × 45) + (38 × 50)) ÷ 100 = 58.25 ≈ 58 C (a pass)

As can be seen it is not necessary to pass each element independently.  A poor performance in an examination can be off-set against a good performance in that module’s coursework, and vice versa.

To gain the EDE Diploma, it is necessary for you to pass all 7 compulsory modules, plus one “approved” module, independently, at the 50% pass mark, giving 120 credits.  For the EDE MSc degree it is necessary to pass all 7 compulsory modules, plus the one approved module, independently, at the 50% pass mark, giving 120 credits, AND to pass the dissertation at 50%, giving a further 60 credits, a total overall of 180.  The Board of Examiners are allowed to award the MSc (and the Diploma) with distinction.  To achieve this you need to pass all modules and the dissertation with a mark of 70% or above, but please also see below.

In the examinations, you will be required to answer 2 questions from a choice of 4.  Past papers, for the last 5 years, can be consulted in the Environmental Studies library, Wates House, 22 Gordon Street: you are strongly advised to do this as soon as possible.  Please note that, provided you have a userid and password, past examination papers for the last four years can be accessed through the UCL Intranet at: http://exam-papers.ucl.ac.uk/BuiltEnv/Bartlett/, the codes have changed after 2005, both codes are listed below:

ENVSGE01 (2002-5 ), BENVEE01 (2006- ) The Built Environment: The Energy Context
ENVSGE04 (2002-5 ), BENVEE03 (2006- ) Building Solar Design
ENVSGE05 (2002-5 ), BENVEE04 (2006- ) Natural and Mechanical Ventilation in Buildings

It is probably worth stating again, although it should be obvious, that within a module it is not necessary to pass every piece of coursework.  It is the weighted average mark, whether the module contains an unseen written examination or not, which determines pass or failure.  If you fail a module, or the dissertation, you have the right to make one further attempt at the next appropriate examination.

Scheme of Award

The statement of the Scheme of Award, that is, the formal set of University of London rules governing what you need to do to achieve the award of the degree, or the diploma, can be found in the relevant BSGS student handbook for your year of enrolment.

Marking Scheme and Grading System

We are required to use the marking scheme set out by the University of London (which is A: 70 - 100%, B: 60 - 69%, C: 50 - 59%, Fail: 0 - 49%).  This scheme is far from ideal.  For example, with the pass mark at 50%, and with a mark of 70% indicating work of distinction quality, most marks fall into the narrow band from 50 to 70, with marks rarely awarded above 80%.

To help you understand what is required for a specific grade, the following sets out the qualities that assessors look for in a mainly written submission, where you would be required to gather together the subject material; order, explain and discuss it; set out an argument(s) for its interpretation and draw conclusions based on your argument(s)/discussion.

To pass with a C grade, the work would:

· address the topic or answer the question adequately

· show basic, but competent, knowledge of the material

· display reasonable understanding of the material, and present clear argument(s)

· have made a weak or poor selection, and use, of evidence in support of the argument(s)

· lack depth in citing of evidence in support of the argument(s)

· have acceptable prose, referencing and presentation.

To achieve a B, the work should:

· make accurate and effective use of evidence to support the argument(s)

· address the question or topic well

· be well organised and referenced

· display evidence of general reading and/or good literature research

· display insight and understanding and present coherent argument(s)

· have conclusions which are well considered and relate to the argument(s) presented

· be written in a fluent, concise and clear prose style and be well presented with good graphics.

To achieve an A, the work should, in addition to the qualities of a B:

· present an exceptionally clear argument

· integrate a range of materials and information sources

· have a real depth of insight into theoretical issues and display analytical rigour

· display originality in treatment and exposition of the subject

· make perceptive conclusions.

Work will FAIL, which displays all or some of the following qualities.

· It does not address the topic/question adequately.

· Knowledge of the material is weak or inaccurate.

· Some knowledge of the issues raised is shown, but its use is unselective.

· There is an uncritical treatment of literature sources.

· The work lacks clear, coherent argument(s) and/or structure.

· The prose style obscures the meaning.

· The citation of sources is inadequate or missing.

This set of criteria is appropriate to a written submission, particularly one where the student is required to build an argument and draw conclusions from a set of disparate material, collected (and selected) by the author him or herself.  Many of the exercises in the MSc EDE are of a different nature.  For example, they might involve using a spreadsheet as an analysis tool, the design of a building or services system, an investigation of building energy issues using computer simulation, or simply, calculation work.  It is difficult, indeed, impossible to provide a marking/grading scheme which will fit all these types of exercise.  However, on each coursework brief, some indication of the requirements will be given.  Nevertheless, if you are in any way unsure of what you are required to produce, please arrange a tutorial with the member of staff who set the work.  In some instances, tutors may be able to review the work, and advise on its weaknesses and strengths.  Please note, however, that once the work has been submitted and the deadline is passed, the work cannot be returned, and the grade awarded will stand, whether this is a pass or fail.  Always seek advice BEFORE submitting the work.

The External Examiner System

Please note that coursework and exams are marked twice internally, ie, within the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, and that the MSc EDE has an External Examiner, appointed to ensure that marking is fair and consistent, and that the standard of the work is equivalent to the MSc programmes of other universities within the UK.  The current External Examiner is Dr David Grierson, he is Chair of the Graduate School of Engineering, and Deputy Head of Architecture, at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. Our previous external examiner was Dr Simos Yannas of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, director of the MSc/MArch Sustainable Environmental Design and the academic coordinator of the PhD Programme.  The external examiner is shown a selection of work, from the top, middle and bottom of the range, and is asked to review (and approve) the overall assessment of the degree.  The examiner will also review any individual failures and borderline cases.

The whole examination process of the Bartlett’s MSc Built Environment programme is overseen by the Board of Examiners, which meets twice a year, and is chaired by Professor Adrian Forty, the Bartlett’s Vice-Dean for Teaching.  The Board consists of the External Examiners and Course Directors (or Internal Examiners if you like) from all the various courses making up the MSc Built Environment programme.  The Board first meets at the end of June in each session to approve the marks for the taught element (the coursework and examinations) of the degree.  At this meeting, the marks are confirmed and cannot be altered.  It meets again in early November to review the marks for the dissertations, and to award the degree.  Again the decisions made at the meeting are final.  This Board of Examiners, together with others around College, are overseen by the College Board of Examiners, to ensure that the examination process is carried out properly throughout UCL.

In addition, the External Examiner is asked to complete a questionnaire, and to comment on the courses examined.  These are not seen initially by Course Directors, but are sent directly to the Registrar’s Division, from where they are sent to the Chair of the relevant Board, and if thought necessary, to the Faculty Board of Examiners, and indeed, to quote, if there are “matters with College-wide implications and/or matters which raise serious issues your report [ie, the External Examiner’s report] will also be copied to the Chair of the College Board of Examiners”.  This Board will require the individual Boards to consider any problems highlighted.  Individual Course Directors will be expected to reply, and if thought necessary by the MSc Programmes Committee, to put in place any remedial measures to improve the course and its administration and/or assessment methods.

It is usual for the External Examiner to ask to meet you, the students, when he or she is at the Bartlett for the Board meeting in June.  The meeting will take place without any of the teaching staff, indeed, without anyone else being present, and gives you an opportunity to express your views of the course.  To some extent, this meeting is not to assess you and your work, but to assess us, the teaching staff who administer, assess and teach the course.

Your Right to Appeal

If you are unhappy with the mechanism used, or feel that you have been unfairly treated, in any of the assessments in the MSc EDE, you have the right to appeal, but please note that you cannot appeal against the marks or grades awarded, only against the mechanisms used for arriving at that assessment or assessments.  In the first instance, if you sense there is a problem, approach the Module Tutor, or secondly the Course Director.  If you feel unable, or unhappy, to approach either of these people, please contact the Tutor to MSc Built Environment Students, Dr Kevin Mansfield, who will be able to advise you how to proceed.


The College has a very strong policy for dealing with plagiarism, defined as the presentation of another person’s thoughts or words or artefacts or software as though they were your own. You should familiarise yourself with this policy statement and ensure that you do not contravene, either deliberately or unwittingly, any of the rules set out in it, at any time during your course.  The policy is so strong, for obvious reasons, that if it is proved that you have plagiarised someone else’s work, you could forfeit your degree and be excluded from all further examinations of the University of London.

However, there is a strong tradition in academic research of reviewing and criticising other researcher’s work in your own field, so that it will be almost inevitable that you will quote, or summarise the findings of other authors during your course.  In all cases, your text must be referenced, giving the source of the material.  If you quote an author, or another student, verbatim (word for word), it is wise to place the text in inverted commas or italics, as well as giving the source in the text.  Where you have summarised someone else’s work, including a fellow student's work, this fact must be made clear, either in the text itself, or in a footnote, and the original author must be listed as a reference and in the bibliography.

On the MSc EDE, students are often encouraged to work together on coursework, so that they gain as much as possible from the knowledge and expertise of fellow students.  This does not mean it is acceptable to make joint submissions.  The coursework submitted must be entirely the work of each individual student, and reference must be made, as set out above, where another person’s material has been used.  Where joint coursework is set requiring a joint submission, this will be made clear in the brief.  In this case it is each individual student’s responsibility to ensure that the jointly submitted coursework does not contravene any of the rules set out in the College’s plagiarism policy statement.

Word Limit

All coursework will have a specified word limit (or page limit (with minimum allowable font size, eg, 10 point for text and 8 for tables)), and penalties will apply if you exceed this limit.  The word limit will be specified on the brief by the tutor setting the piece of work.  The word count should include tables, diagrams and illustrations (and their captions) but NOT the appendices.  Appendices should be used sparingly, but can be used to contain sets of similar tables (with just one example in the main text together with a summary table), or perhaps spreadsheets setting out repetitive calculations.  Appendices can also be used to contain material which you have used in completing the work, and which will be useful for future reference.  Markers are not obliged to read the appendices, so the work should be able to stand on its own without them.  Note that markers are not impressed by lengthy, rambling, badly structured essays or reports, padded out to look impressive, but with no real substance, and will instinctively award less marks than for a concise, cogently argued piece of coursework.

If the word count is above the maximum specified the following penalties will apply.

If word/page count is less than 100% of the word limit:             NO PENALTY

If word count is between 100 and 110% of word limit:               Reduction of 10%; penalised mark will not be reduced below the pass mark, assuming the work merited a pass

If word count is greater than 110% of word limit:                      Zero

Late Submission of Coursework

When each piece of coursework is issued, a submission deadline is given.  Please note very carefully that there are serious consequences for not making a submission of EACH AND EVERY part of the assessment for a module.  If you allow this to happen, a mark of zero will be recorded for the WHOLE module, even if the non-submission is only one small part of the assessment, and you will have to re-take all parts of the assessment for the module.  Except if there are mitigating circumstances (normally only certified illness or close family bereavement, when an extension will be agreed between the tutor and the student), the following penalties will apply, if the submission is late.

If the work is submitted:  

on or before the deadline:                                        NO PENALTY

up to 24 hours late (1 day):                                     Reduction of 5%

between 2 and 7 days late:                                      Maximum mark of 15%

more than 7 days after the deadline:                        A mark of zero recorded

Note that, except in the last case, if the penalty reduces the mark of work of passing standard below 50%, a mark of 50% will nevertheless be recorded.

Once the work is submitted, every attempt will be made to mark and return the work with comments within two weeks of the submission deadline.  Extensions to submission deadlines will only be given if there are extenuating circumstances, usually only certified illness or close family bereavement.  For part-time students, pressure of work will not be sufficient reason for a deadline extension.

Submission details for courseworks can be found on each coursework brief.

Please note that it is vitally important that students keep a personal copy (both an electronic AND a hard copy) of EVERY piece of coursework submitted, including joint submissions.  These should include tables, diagrams and pictures and/or photographs.  It is the responsibility of the student to keep back-up copies of all work submitted, in case work is lost or inadvertently destroyed.

Last updated - May 2014 - HA