Grading Scheme for Masters Programmes

Students who started studying before the spring of 2011 will have had the modules they started before this date graded using a different grading scheme. Please see here for details. For details of why we changed the grading system, please see here.

Students undertaking the University of Liverpool’s online programmes come from many different countries. Their previous experience of education will have probably accustomed them to a grading system that is different to that used by higher education institutions in the United Kingdom.

Some countries use letter grades, other countries use number grades, and even amongst countries using seemingly similar systems, a given grade can mean different things.

For example, a grade of 6 can be just above the pass mark of 5.5 (Netherlands), the highest possible mark (Switzerland) or a very low mark (Germany). Likewise, an A grade can be awarded to all students scoring 70 or more out of 100 in some countries, or only to those scoring more than 95 out of 100 in others. Even letter grades can have different interpretations; in the UK system a C is a passing grade, in other countries it is a failing grade. For more details please see International Grading Comparisons.

The important point is that regardless of where in the world you have studied before, the range of grades allowed differentiation to be made between students’ ability and their understanding of the subject. The grades you will receive whilst studying with the University of Liverpool are no different.

The end-of-module grade for each module of your Masters programme will be a numerical value from 0 to 84. We base this mark on the assignments you complete during that module.

Typically, you will receive provisional grades* for assignments the week after they are completed. This means you always have a very good idea of how you are doing, and can reach out to your Instructor if you feel you require guidance on how to improve your grades.

*See below.

You can find your grades in the classroom by clicking on Tools in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. In addition to seeing the provisional grades for each assignment you will see an indication of your provisional end-of-module grade based on assignments for which you have already received grades in that module.

Please note that you only have access to the grades for individual assignments in the classroom for one year after the end of the class, after that you can access your end-of-module grade in Student Records in the Student Administration section of Laureate LENS. For a more detailed explanation please see here

Assessment Process

As part of the stringent quality control procedures we apply, all grades initially awarded by Instructors or Doctoral Tutors are provisional and subject to a two-stage review process. This comprises the checking of provisional grades by Monitors before they are confirmed by the Board of Examiners. For full details of the assessment process, please see here.  The Board of Examiners also determines your eligibility for an academic award when you finish your studies - please see here for details.

Grades for Assignments

Grades for assignments are awarded on a six-point scale: A*, A, B, C, D and F. Each grade has a numerical value from 0 to 84.

Please note that any assignment that does not receive a grade (for example, because it is not submitted or it is submitted after its deadline without prior approval) will be marked in the grading system as U, for ungraded. This has the same Numerical Value as an F grade.

Please see the table below for the descriptions of the quality of work each grade represents and the numerical value it carries:



 Numerical Value

High Distinction-level work;
[Exceptional work – Instructor is intellectually challenged by the student’s contribution] Factually almost faultless; authoritative coverage of topic; strong evidence of outside reading/research; substantial elements of originality and independent thought. Perceptive; aptly focused; very well written and directed. Exceeds all requirements.

Distinction-level work:
Displays in-depth understanding of material; comprehensive coverage of topic; good evidence of outside reading/research; originality of thought or approach. Enlightening; well focused; very well written and directed. Exceeds most requirements.

Merit-level work
: Factually sound (few, if any, minor factual errors); thorough understanding of material; evidence of relevant outside reading/research; some originality of thought or approach. Regular use of effective logical thinking, critical analysis and judgment. Suitably focused; well written and directed. Meets all requirements.

Pass-level work:
[Satisfactory work –Worthy effort but undistinguished outcome] Essentially correct, possibly missing important points, but no serious errors; good understanding of material but tending to be descriptive in approach; limited evidence of outside reading/research. Competently structured and reasonably well focused, but some weaknesses in expression / presentation. Possibly using large amounts of quotations.

Marginal work
: Displays only limited understanding of material; incomplete coverage of topic; some significant factual errors and/or irrelevancies. Entirely descriptive in approach. Poorly structured; lack of coherent argument; difficult to follow. Substantially above or below the word limit. Possibly using excessive amounts of quotations.

Unsatisfactory work
: Evidence of inadequate effort. Many serious errors / misconceptions / omissions / irrelevancies. Poorly directed at targets. Poorly structured; lack of coherent argument; difficult to follow. Substantially above or below the word limit. Possibly using excessive amounts of quotations.

The only assignment that is not graded on the above six-point scale is the final research project/dissertation. This is graded on a scale from 0 to 100.

The range of the numerical values and the exact numerical value of each grade are designed to duplicate the range of marks obtained by students studying on campus. In this way, we ensure that the level of difficulty and the requirement for engagement in the learning process is the same, whether a student is studying a campus-based or online programme.

How your End-of-Module Grade is Calculated

Examples of End-of-Module Grade Calculations

Module One

Normally the work of a module on a Masters programme is divided over eight weeks. When you start a programme for the first time, you will actually study for ten weeks. This is because we include foundation elements in the first few weeks of study to ensure that you get off to a good start.

This table shows how the end-of-module grade is calculated for a student who has performed well during module one of their programme.

(click on the table for a larger version)

Other Modules

With the other seven modules of your Masters programme you study for eight weeks. This example shows how the end-of-module grade is calculated for a student who got off to a great start in a module, but then consistently underperformed.

(click on the table for a larger version)

Remember when looking at the above examples that your programme or module may have different components, and the weight of each component may vary.

If a student on a Masters programme receives an end-of-module numerical grade of less than 40 they must retake the module. If a student on a Masters programme receives an end-of-module grade of 40-49, they normally need to re-take the module.  For full details regarding failing modules, please click here.

To see how your end-of-module grades and final research project/dissertation are used to determine your eligibility for an academic award, please see here.

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