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Setting (module level)

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The Setting (module level) theme walks you through the process of assessment and re-assessment and covers the setting of your module in respect of:

  • Module assessment: introduction * learning outcomes * criteria and type * tasks and methods * verification and moderation
  • Regulations: tariff * word limits * university grade descriptors * rubrics 
  • Feedback: design and types of feedback
  • Re-assessments: departmental assessment boards (DABs) * extensions (request to repeat an assessment attempt (RRAA) and request to extend a submission deadline (RESD) * referrals * deferrals * continuing * sub-tasks * in-module retrieval * grade-based assessment
  • Assessment scheduling: task clustering * statement * group work * examinations * calendar * to-do list 

Module Assessment

The Academic Development & Diversity Team have developed an Inclusive Design Guide to support staff who are involved in the curriculum design process. It brings together a range of definitive information about inclusive course/module design at Sheffield Hallam University.

Whatever your experience, this guide is intended to support you and your course/module team in a practical way, it aims to help you make the most of the opportunity the design and validation process provides to plan and develop your course/module. It contains up-to-date information which is applicable and useful to anyone who has a role in creating and refreshing courses and incorporates references to College-based information and resources where relevant.

Click on of the headings for more guidance:

introduction * learning outcomes * criteria and type * tasks and methods * verification and moderation



Here we present a range of guidance and information on module assessment submission, please follow in conjunction with:

News: April 2022 –  Assessment submission dates 2022-23 are ready please read in conjunction with Academic Services > assessment submission dates 2022-23 data collection (SP site) staff guidance. These apply to coursework type assessment only as defined for your modules in Curriculum View (not examinations!).

Here’s the existing guidance for 2021-22: 


Learning outcomes

Refer to Assessment Essentials: Course Design > Learning Outcomes for guidance.

Criteria and type

Within a module, assessment criteria are used to evaluate the level of attainment students achieve against the learning outcomes. All assessment in Higher Education is criterion referenced, which means that students are assessed on the basis of their performance against clearly stated criteria. 

Tasks and methods

  • Assessment tasks:
    • is a validated summative activity as it is presented to the student. 
    • courses should limit the number of summative assessment tasks to the minimum required to assess student achievement against course level learning outcomes.
    • should not normally be more than two summative assessment tasks per 20 credit module.
    • is an individual piece of assessed work, for example an essay, an examination or a presentation (see assessment methods example below) for which the mark is submitted to Assessment Boards and stored in corporate student information systems (SITS).
  • Assessment methods –are the means by which students demonstrate that they have met the module’s learning outcomes. They define how the task is conducted and are the techniques deployed to execute the task.

There are many methods available to the academic. Like research methods, knowing what is possible and the respective strengths of a given method, and how they should be used, can be daunting. However, thinking carefully about this is critical to effective assessment design. Assessment variety, effective engagement with a task, and understanding the relevance of the task to the discipline make a significant difference to student engagement, satisfaction and success.  The module team needs to consider whether their proposed tasks and methods are:

  • suitable for students to demonstrate their achievement of the module’s learning outcomes.
  • complementary to the methods being used in other modules being taken by the students.
  • accessible and appropriate, i.e. the students are sufficiently capable of undertaking the task and will understand what they have to do.
  • linked to what is going to be taught in the module.
  • straightforward to mark and give feedback on.

There are a range of assessment methods you can use which provide further information including a definition of the method, why its useful, what outcome each method supports and guidance on implementing the method. Each of these methods needs to be adapted to ensure an appropriate fit with purpose and context:

New: April 2021 – Academic Services: assessment submission type: field choices (June 2021 word SP site) 

Academic Services: assessment submission type – field choices – June 2021 (word) 

Here are examples of assessment tasks and methods 2015 (word).  

As an example of developing a more authentic assessment, Deborah Fitzgerald Moore has produced a case study on the process she used to change assessment from an exam to course work for level 6 students (PDF versionaudio version).

A case study from Sue McPherson outlines the change of assessment from a traditional closed exam to a mid-semester take home examination paper ( PDF versionaudio version   

Verification and Moderation

The University needs to be assured that robust, effective and consistent verification and moderation processes are taking place in all courses.


Ensures that the form and content of assessment tasks and briefs are appropriate, fair and valid in terms of standards, are fit for purpose, will effectively assess the achievement of learning outcomes and present an appropriate level of challenge to students.

The verification process is now managed within each College. Visit the respective College guidance:

Also visit the University’s Rules and Regulations website > study > grades and marks section for all policy documents and proformas.  


  • involves the academic judgement of students’ submitted assessments against predetermined criteria and the provision of a mark (percentage, grade band or pass/fail grade).
  • second marking is where a second mark is allocated to a piece of work by a second internal marker. This is a thorough second marking of student work and may be carried out blind (where the second marker does not have access to the marks and comments of the first marker) or sighted (where the second marker can view the marks and comments of the first marker). Second marking of the whole cohort is sometimes referred to as ‘double marking’. Second marking results in a single, agreed mark.
  • standardisation – are employed to ensure the consistency of marking in modules where there are multiple markers.
  • Take a look at Assessment Essentials: Marking / Feedback. (webpage)


  • is employed to ensure that academic standards are appropriate, that marking is regulated within agreed norms or against predetermined marking criteria across a module/course. It also ensures that the assessment outcomes for students are fair and reliable.
  • It is undertaken internally and externally.
  • Moderation can be undertaken by reviewing a sample of student work, or by second marking. Second marking results in a single, agreed mark.
  • Moderation by reviewing a sample of student work – the role of the moderator is to check that first marking has been carried out correctly, that mark schemes have been properly applied, and that the total mark is arithmetically correct for a sample of student work.
  • External moderation: is a check / audit of a sample of marked work by an appointed – visit Academic Quality and Standards: external examiner (SP site). 

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tariff * word limits * university grade descriptors * rubrics


In order to ensure that students and staff are not overburdened with assessment, the University suggests an Assessment Tariff to ensure consistency between modules with equal weightings across the University’s courses. An assessment tariff details the assessment methods and balance of assessment loading across a module. Suggested lengths of examinations and coursework word guidance can be found on:

Word Limits

It is recognised that there are many forms of written assessment tasks being set for students. Standardisation of word limits is neither desirable nor achievable in practice across the University. Although the University does not set a policy on word limits, word guidance must be provided to students for all assessment tasks. Word guidance provides a clear steer to students of the number of words that are expected to answer a question appropriately. 

The University recognises that there may be subject areas who wish to set word limits for specific assessments, and to set a penalty for students who do not reach or who exceed the word limit.  Where a limit is set and penalties applied, it must be clearly articulated to students how the word limit is managed. The feedback to students on an assessment which breaches the word limit must clearly show how the penalty has been applied.  It is considered good practice to have a consistent course approach to the penalties set. Guidance can be found on:

University Grade Descriptors

Refer to Assessment Essentials: Course Design > university grade descriptors – for the university grade descriptors guidance and FAQs. 


Refer to Assessment Essentials: Marking and Feedback > Feedback on assessments / methods 

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Design and types of feedback

There are various approaches to designing and giving feedback. Refer to Assessment Essentials: Marking and Feedback > feedback on assessment – practical advice to assist you in identifying and delivering a range of feedback.

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departmental assessment boards (DABs) * extensions (RRAA and RESD) * referrals * deferrals * continuing * sub-tasks * in-module retrieval * grade-based assessment 

Colleges are responsible for ensuring that all reassessment instruments are published to students in a timely and consistent fashion.

Module leaders will normally set referral/deferral tasks at the same time as setting the first sit tasks, prior to release to students at the start of teaching. Reassessment of work is undertaken on a task-for task basis. Re-assessment submission points will be set up in a separate content area in Blackboard based on the re-assessment information provided over the summer. These will be created as unavailable but the module leaders will need to make these available closer to the time of re-assessment. 

Departmental assessment boards (DABs)

Departmental Assessment Boards are held at the end of each assessment period and ratify students’ assessment results. Their responsibilities are:

  • To ensure that assessment has been conducted in accordance with the definitive document and approved module descriptors.
  • To ratify the final moderated marks for each course.
  • Ratify individual student assessment profiles leading to progression, continuation and award.
  • To ensure that the assessment of students has been conducted in accordance with University regulations (and AQS: PSRB requirements (SP site) where appropriate).
  • Address quality assurance issues relating to assessment delivery and processing which require immediate attention, eg. scaling.
  • Identify quality assurance issues requiring review for referral to Departmental Boards, eg. modules with high referral rates.

New: April – Academic Services: 2022 – 2022-23 Assessment Board Schedules (SP page). 

Academic Services: Department Assessment Boards (DABs) (SP site) provides you with Board and College schedules as well as access to all the key document and links required.

University Rules and Regulations: Assessment and Awards – for departmental assessment board policy (website).   

Extensions / Extenuating Circumstances

All guidance, policy and information can be found on:


Following referral, the assessment task will be capped at the minimum module pass mark, i.e. 40% for levels 3-6 and 50% for level 7 modules. For all modules referral will be on a task for task’ basis:

  • Referral work can be a repeat / rework of the task, or a new piece of work as appropriate, for each individual assessment task where there is a mark of below the minimum pass mark, and where the overall module mark is below the minimum pass mark.
  • The referral should normally be the same form and content as the initial assessment task. Where variation is necessary (e.g. where the initial assessment required use of facilities which are not currently available) this should be clearly noted during internal and external moderation of assessment instruments. The alternative assessment must be of the same rigour and standard as the original assessment.
  • Where a module is not passed, the student should take all assessment tasks that have a mark below the minimum pass mark.
  • Where reassessment is taken, the best mark is used to calculate the overall module result.
  • Where reassessment is not taken, a mark of zero will be recorded but the previous mark will be used to calculate the overall module result. Following referral the assessment task will be capped at the minimum module pass mark.     


If an Extenuating Circumstances Panel agrees that a student’s circumstances are valid and acceptable, the student will be given a deferral in the assessment task that the student claimed to be affected when the student has not achieved the minimum module pass mark.

  • Deferred assessment is always task for task and should normally be in the same form and content as the initial assessment task and normally a different assessment task would be set, except for dissertations or individual projects. Where variation is necessary this should be approved by the relevant Departmental Assessment Board. The also applies to deferral against a referred attempt.
  • Extenuating circumstances will only be considered at assessment task level not sub-task level (i.e. not against an individual experiment in a collection of smaller sub-tasks, but rather the whole set). Exceptional extension requests should be used (where appropriate) where a student is unable to take an assessment task due to a valid and acceptable reason. Extenuating circumstances cannot be submitted for in-module retrieval; exceptional extension requests may be used where appropriate.

Continuing re-assessment

At the Reassessment Board, if the student has not had all the normal opportunities for first sit, referral and / or deferral because of extenuating circumstances accepted by the University or if the student has to rework some assessment due to academic misconduct, then they will been given ‘continued reassessment’ (SP site) in the module. The module leader will then need to prepare an assessment task for these students.


The reassessment of a task which consists of sub-tasks must be clearly articulated to students. Two methods of reassessment are possible, the over-riding principle being that students must be given an opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes. There are two categories of sub-tasks.

  • 1st – a collection of related, small assessment sub-tasks which form a single assessment task submitted via one deadline date.
  • 2nd – a collection of related, small assessment sub-tasks undertaken regularly, for example weekly lab tests.

Note: sub-task for sub-task reassessment may not be a viable option for some sub-task assessments, such as weekly lab tests. A reassessment brief for each sub-task would need to be produced. Task reassessment package, only one would need to be produced.

If Module Leaders wish to use sub-tasks, these must be approved within the College but managed locally by the module leader. Sub-tasks can consist of time-constrained course work, for example phase tests but not examinations. The Principles and Procedures for Assessment section 2.2 – University’s Rules and Regulations: Assessment and Awards (website).

In-Module Retrieval (IMR)

In-module retrieval (IMR) is a process whereby students who have achieved a borderline refer mark at the first attempt are given an opportunity of reworking that assessment task. A borderline refer is a mark between 35-39% (UG) or 45-49% (PG). It locates the opportunity to ‘make good’ on an assessment task as close to the learning as possible, but with the benefit of feedback from tutors, indicating why students have not initially  submitted work of a satisfactory level of achievement.

The IMR coursework assessment tool allows a student to rework a course assessment task if they have achieved below 40% on their initial attempt. 

Grade-Based Assessment (GBA)

GBA – the move to a different approach in which the grade given for individual assessments is based on degree classifications instead of being expressed as a percentage.  Refer to Assessment Essentials: Marking / Feedback > marking assessment – which covers what grade-based assessment is and how you use it. 

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Assessment Scheduling

task clustering * statement * group work * examinations * calendar * to-do list 


Task clustering

Module Leaders undertake assessment scheduling between the months of May to July each year, module leaders will need to check the summative task and sub-task assessment data for their modules to ensure information such as title of the assignment and due date/time are correct. This process is supported in the College by Academic Administration who liaise with the academic teams to help validate assessment task information.

Course teams are responsible for avoiding assessment bunching by using:

College Academic Administration Teams will will input the data into SITS and will then be used before the start of teaching:


The Assessment Statement will provide students with the formal and consolidated course view of the tasks and sub-tasks that contribute to their overall award (summative). Take a look at this Academic Services: Sample assessment statement 2020-21 (JPEG).

  • Where sub-tasks exist, they will be listed separately under the main task.
  • The statement will show assessment dates for current year and previous years only.
  • Students will be able to access the statement in My Hallam (website) via the ‘My Assessments’ page and then selecting ‘Assessment Statement’. Staff can access any students statement via SITS online from the ‘Module Delivery and Assessment Page’ and then selecting ‘Assessment Statement’.
  • If a student has an approved extension, the agreed extension date will be displayed next to the original deadline date for the task.

Some coursework assessments will be set over a date range e.g. some group or in class work. For these types of assessments:

  • the date of the last assessment in the range will be the one initially published in the Assessment Statement.
  • where this is the case, exact dates for each group assessment need to be confirmed by the module leader in advance of the assessment and should be provided to College Academic Administration Teams so this information can be added to Curriculum View and show in the students’ assessment statement.
  • if a student is referred or deferred in a task, the date for this will be shown in the statement as soon as the students mark has progressed through the assessment boards and reassessment is confirmed. 

Group Work

Visit Academic Essentials: Support for course and module design and delivery overview page (website) for a wide range of group work guidance, information and resources. 


Visit Submitting / Sitting > Examinations for guidance.  


The Blackboard calendar provides a consolidated course view of all tasks that have a deadline date in the module sites that students are enrolled to. This includes:

  • tasks that contribute to the overall award (summative).
  • tasks that do not contribute to the overall award but are used to support learning (formative).
  • any non-assessed tasks such as DBS checks or risk assessment forms.
  • take a look at this Blackboard calendar: August 2017 (JPEG) – example.

Students can access the Blackboard calendar on MyHallam (website) via the ‘My Assessments’ page.

  • student’s exam tasks will not show in the Blackboard calendar but can be seen either on the student’s assessment statement or via their personalised exam timetable.
  • staff can view this information via Curriculum View (website).

Some coursework assessments set over a date range e.g. some group or in class work, the date of the last assessment in the range will be initially the one showing in Blackboard and in the calendar.

  • exact dates for each group assessment will need to be confirmed by the module leader to the cohort.
  • normally, approved extension dates will not show in the Blackboard calendar. The extension deadline date will be confirmed to the student via email but students will be asked to submit their work to the original submission point which will remain open.
  • if a student is referred or deferred in a task, the date for this will be shown in the calendar as soon as the students mark has progressed through the assessment boards and re-assessment is confirmed and the Module Leader has made the re-assessment task available.

To-do list

Another tool for students to help manage and organise their time is the Blackboard ‘to do list’.

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Last updated: 17th January 2024 NB