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Appealing against an academic decision

How to make an appeal against an academic decision.

Considering an appeal

This page is about appealing against an academic decision.

If you submit an Academic Appeal, and the issues you have raised in it could be dealt with more appropriately under another procedure, the University will advise you how it will consider your case. The guide Complaints, academic appeals and disciplinary allegations may help you decide whether or not an appeal will be the best course of action in your case.

The Academic Appeals process

The Academic Appeals process allows you to appeal against a decision taken by a Faculty, School or Doctoral Board of Studies about your academic studies or academic outcome. This decision could relate to:

  1. your suitability to progress from one stage of your programme of studies to the next.
  2. your suitability to remain on your programme of study.
  3. your marks/grades, degrees, certificates or diplomas, and any classifications/grades awarded.

Before considering an appeal, you should refer to Regulation 17, which sets out the process and the related responsibilities of both the student and the University.

The Academic Appeal process applies only to decisions taken by a Board of Studies. If you have concerns about assessment outcomes that have not yet been approved by a Board of Studies you should seek advice in the first instance from your Director of Studies. You may, for example, suspect errors in the totalling or transcription of marks or grades, or you might want to seek clarification about the marking process (see Regulation 17.2).

Please note Regulation 17.1: “Dissatisfaction with a mark or set of marks, or any other aspect of the properly exercised academic judgement of the examiners, will not of itself be acceptable as a valid ground for an Academic Appeal.”

COVID-19 and no-detriment

The University has agreed additional no-detriment measures for taught students to respond to the COVID-19 situation. If you are an undergraduate (UG) or postgraduate taught (PGT) student considering an appeal you should familiarise yourself with the measures for the 2020/21 academic year as described in the guidance and communications listed in our page No-detriment and assessment guidance 2020/21.

Appeal evidence requirements in 2020/21

Evidence requirements have been made more flexible if you choose to claim Individual Mitigating Circumstances, given the difficult pandemic circumstances. There is no requirement to provide formal medical evidence if an IMC relates to illness because we understand that may not be possible this year.

For academic appeals, this means that if you are appealing an academic outcome in the 2020/21 academic year under the first grounds set out in Regulation 17.16(c)(i), you do not need to provide formal medical evidence (for example, a note from a doctor). Please do, however, provide whatever evidence is available to you to help you make as clear a case as you can for consideration. If your ability to provide evidence has been affected by COVID-19 disruption, you should explain clearly what you intended to provide and why it is unavailable to you.

If your appeal is made on other grounds (procedural irregularities, bias, prejudice, inadequate assessment, paradigm difference) we would normally expect you to provide evidence in support of the case you are making. If your ability to provide this evidence has been affected by COVID-19 disruption, you should explain clearly what you intended to provide and why it is unavailable to you.

If your appeal is related to COVID-19 disruption to your assessment attempts, you will need to explain the specific impact on your specific assessments. In particular, if you did not seek a coursework extension, defer your exam or submit an IMC in the expected timescales, you should explain why this was the case and provide any evidence you may have available to you.

Support

You are encouraged to speak to the Director of Studies for your programme should you wish to raise an academic issue informally at any point. Directors of Studies may also help you to understand your individual academic situation, and the possible actions and potential range of outcomes permitted by the assessment regulations following a successful Academic Appeal.

In addition to the guidance available from Directors of Studies mentioned above, it is strongly recommended that you speak to the SU Advice & Support Centre before submitting an Academic Appeal, or as soon as you become aware of any issues with your academic progress. The SU Advice & Support Centre provides independent support and guidance, and its staff can act as the “friend or adviser” permitted by the Regulation.

Doctoral students can also get independent support and guidance from the University Independent Advisor for Postgraduate Research Students.

Additional support for student wellbeing is available from the Wellbeing Service. If you are an international student you should seek advice from the Student Immigration Service if you have questions regarding the implications of a Board of Studies decision.

Partner College Programmes

If you are a student at Wiltshire College or Bath College, you should seek advice from your College Students’ Union / Student Services not the University of Bath Students’ Union.

Making an appeal (Stage 1)

Stage 1 of the process is where a student submits an Academic Appeal to the Chair of the Board of Studies, against a decision of the Board. The Chair considers the submission and decides whether or not a prima facie case has been established (see Key Terms) for an Appeal Hearing to be held or for Executive Action to be taken.

To appeal against a decision of the Board of Studies you need to follow the process set out in Regulation 17, which details the timescales for each stage of the Academic Appeal procedure. This means that you must send your Stage 1 Academic Appeal so that it will reach the Chair of the Board of Studies for your programme no more than 14 calendar days after notification of the decision against which you are appealing, and including:

  • The Stage 1 form (AA1) completed in full
  • All of the documentary evidence that you have available to you to make your case, providing English translations of official legal or medical documents as necessary. If you are unable to provide evidence due to COVID-19, please explain this. See the advice regarding evidence in 2020/21 in light of COVID-19 disruption.

You are also strongly recommended to seek independent advice from the Advice & Support Centre of the Students’ Union on your academic circumstances and the case you wish to make.

Where to submit your appeal

Please send Stage 1 Academic Appeal requests to the appropriate contact below to reach the Chair of the Board of Studies.

Faculty of Engineering & Design

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (including IMML students)

School of Management

Faculty of Science

Doctoral students

  • By e-mail: Mr Simon Gane, Head of Doctoral Recruitment and Programmes (s.k.b.gane@bath.ac.uk), on behalf of the Chair of Board of Studies (Doctoral)

Students on programmes administered by the Learning Partnerships Office:

Addictions Counselling

  • By e-mail: Professor David Galbreath (hss-chair-of-bos@bath.ac.uk), the Chair of the Board of Studies (Please cc: Dr Florin Bisset, f.bisset@bath.ac.uk, Head of Learning Partnerships and Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach)

Applied Computing

  • By e-mail: Professor Nicholas Brook (scienceappeals@bath.ac.uk), the Chair of the Board of Studies (Please cc: Dr Florin Bisset, f.bisset@bath.ac.uk, Head of Learning Partnerships and Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach)

International Foundation Year

  • By e-mail: Professor Nicholas Brook (scienceappeals@bath.ac.uk), the Chair of the Board of Studies (Please cc: Dr Florin Bisset, f.bisset@bath.ac.uk, Head of Learning Partnerships and Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach)

Requesting a review of a Stage 1 appeal decision

Where the outcome of an Academic Appeal is that no prima facie case has been established, you can ask the Director of Academic Registry for a review of the process and its outcome.

Where Executive Action was taken or an Appeal Hearing was held at Stage 1, you can ask the Secretary to Senate to convene a Student Academic Appeals Committee to conduct a review of the outcome.

Read the guide Request a review of a Stage 1 academic appeal outcome for more information.

Key terms in the appeal process explained

Assessment regulations: For most students on taught programmes of study (rather than research students), this refers to the New Framework for Assessment. There are different versions of the assessment regulations depending on which regulations your specific programme uses (for example, the NFAAR:UG for undergraduate programmes and the NFAAR:PGT for postgraduate taught programmes). Your programme handbook and/or the Programme and Unit Catalogue will indicate which assessment regulations apply to your programme of study. The possible actions and outcomes resulting from an Academic Appeal will be limited by both your individual academic circumstances and the relevant assessment regulations, so you are advised to speak to your Director of Studies or the Advice & Support Centre of the Students’ Union about what may be possible in your situation.

Board of Studies: Boards of Studies are responsible to Senate for all matters relating to the organisation of education, teaching and research, including all examination matters. While you may receive marks/grades and feedback throughout the course of your programme stage, you will not receive a formal progression or award notification, or final marks/grades, until the Board of Studies has met and made a decision to accept the recommendations from Boards of Examiners. The Academic Appeals process applies to these decisions only.

Chair of the Board of Studies: The academic member of staff who leads the meetings of the Board of Studies. This is normally the Dean of the Faculty/School, or the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International & Doctoral) in the case of doctoral provision, and will be the person who will make a decision regarding your Stage 1 Academic Appeal. See Where to submit your appeal to identify the Chair of the Board of Studies for your programme.

Director of Academic Registry: The Director of Academic Registry is head of a professional service department that provides a range of academic and regulatory administrative support to the University community. In the context of Regulation 17, at Stage 2(A), the Director of Academic Registry may review the Stage 1 decisions taken by Chairs of the Boards of Study if no prima facie case was established. You can contact the Director of Academic Registry at stage-2a-appeals@bath.ac.uk.

Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA): The OIA is an independent body, external to the University, set up to review student complaints. You can apply to the OIA for a review of your case if you remain dissatisfied with the outcome when both stages of the University Appeal procedure have been completed.

Prima facie case: This is a phrase that serves to describe briefly what you should seek to provide when you submit an Academic Appeal request. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary defines a prima facie case as “a case that is supported by sufficient evidence for it to be taken as proved in the absence of evidence to the contrary”. It is your responsibility to provide all the evidence needed to support the case you are making in your Academic Appeal. The Chair of the Board of Studies may seek to verify any factual information you have provided when deciding whether you have made a prima facie case for executive action to be taken or for an appeal hearing to be held. Please note the revised evidence guidance in light of no-detriment measures in the 2020/21 academic year.

Secretary to Senate: In the context of Regulation 17, at Stage 2(B), the Secretary to Senate is responsible for reviewing the Stage 1 decisions resulting from Executive Action or an Appeal Hearing where the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome.