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Double Marking and Moderating

This policy should be read in conjunction with:

  • The University's Learning and Teaching Handbook which sets out the policy on moderation and double marking. The additional information below provides further clarification on the policy in the context of the Common Awards programmes.

TEIs should also consult:

Double-marking and moderation are two distinct mechanisms. These activities should be undertaken by core or experienced staff (such as programme leaders and module leaders), in order to ensure there is appropriate oversight of assessment processes.

Double marking

Double-marking involves two separate markers each making a judgment about a piece of work, and then assigning an agreed mark.

Double marking must be applied to all scripts in a run – otherwise those students whose work is not double marked are being treated differently from those who are. Individual marks awarded by the first marker cannot be changed unless the second marker has marked all the other scripts in a run.

If you want a second marker to look only at a sample of scripts, this is ‘Moderation’ and the guidance below must be followed.

Where double marking is used, there is no University requirement that it must be carried out blind or unseen (where the first marker's marks and the rationale for them are not communicated to the second marker until after they have completed their marking).

Where double-marking is employed there should be a clear procedure in place for the agreement of marks between markers and for the resolution of any differences. An example of such a procedure might be the following:

  • a discrepancy of <5% in the mark for the module as a whole and which does not span a classification border can be resolved by taking the average of the two marks
  • a discrepancy of >5% in the mark for the module as a whole or spanning a classification border is to be resolved by discussion between the markers to reach an agreed mark if possible
  • if agreement cannot be achieved refer to a third party (which may include an external examiner). This should not become the norm: markers should normally be able to secure agreement between themselves.

Wherever double-marking is used there should be a clear 'audit trail' showing the rationale for the mark reached by each marker, and the communication between them to reach an agreed mark. One means of achieving this is by the use of a moderation record sheet (produced by the Continuing Implementation Group) which can be found in the templates and forms section. Raw marks, as well as reconciled marks, should be made available to external examiners.

Double-marking is to be applied to all dissertations and major projects.


Moderation involves a moderator looking at a sample of the pieces of work in a run. It does not involve the moderator agreeing a revised mark for each individual piece of work.

The role of the moderator is to ensure that the scale, range and standards of first-marking are appropriate, with any recommendations for change being recommendations for change to the whole run of pieces of work. For instance, if moderation reveals a pattern of excessively generous or punitive marking in the sample, omission or over-emphasis of some element of answers, large fluctuations in marks, or use of an excessively narrow range of marks, then this should be rectified by an appropriate systematic review of the marks. Where the moderator identifies problems that can't be handled in this way – by identifying the reason for the erroneous mark(s), identifying all other scripts to which that reason might apply, and agreeing an alteration to the marks for all those scripts – it is possible to refer cases to a third marker. See our moderation examples for some simple descriptions of how all this can work.

For Common Awards programmes, the approved minimum sample size is 6 pieces of work or 10% of the pieces of work in a run (whichever is greater).

The selection of the sample should not depend entirely on the first marker's identification of work which seems to them to be problematic. It should include pieces of work from the top, bottom, and middle of the range.

TEIs should ensure that appropriately senior/experienced staff conduct the moderation.

A clear audit trail must be maintained. This should demonstrate the samples that have been considered, any systematic issues identified, and details of the actions taken to rectify these.