School of Social and Political Science

Postgraduate awards


Below please find information on the schedule for the release of

  • Postgraduate marks
  • Postgraduate progression
  • Postgraduate awards

Please note, the MSc by Research is assessed and awarded under Taught Assessment Regulations, so this information also applies to MSc by Research students.

Board of Examiners

Postgraduate exam boards meet in three period across the year- in February, June, and October

  • February - ratification of Semester 1 course marks
  • June - ratification of Semester 2 marks, and progression decisions
  • October - ratification of dissertation and other outstanding marks and awards
Publication dates - Marks, Progression, and Awards

All publication dates are aligned to University deadlines.  Results and decisions are communicated to students via and an automated email will be sent to your University email account to alert you that a result or decision.  Results and decisions will be released no later than the dates below.

Course marks
  • Semester 1 - course marks - Friday 19th February, 2021
  • Semester 2 - course marks for all continuing students - Friday 9th July, 2021
  • Dissertation and any marks for work completed over the summer - Friday 5th November, 2021
  • Dissertation comments/feedback released via ELMA (or electronic submission system - 5th November, 2021
Progression to Dissertation
  • Friday 9th July, 2021
Publication of Awards 
  • 2020/21 students - Friday 5th November, 2021
How are degree results determined?

For the general information on how Boards of Examiners make decisions on academic performance please see the Academic Services webpage on Assessment decisions.  The University's Taught Assessment Regulations govern how all postgraduate courses and programmes are assessed.

These Regulations also include links to the University's Common Marking Scheme which is applied to all the School’s assessed work. 

The University's regulations governing postgraduate degree programmes can be found on the University’s webpage for Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study and Taught Assessment Regulations

SPS Board of Examiners also use a set of rules to decide borderline cases in award classes (e.g. a borderline Merit to Distinction). These rules are published in the MSc Taught Student Handbook 2020-21 and the MScR Student Handbook.

Special Circumstances and course marks

With respect to special circumstances, the role of the Board of Examiners is to confirm any actions taken in relation to assessments affected by valid special circumstances and any adjustments to course grades which are an outcome of these actions. 

On a course-by-course basis, boards consider whether those students with special circumstances have successfully completed enough assessments to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes of the course.  Where there was sufficient evidence, the school advised its boards to:

  • attempt to award a course mark and credits without requiring further work of the student,
  • ensure the mark is a reasonable and fair reflection of the student's aptitude.

Where a significant amount of work was missing or failed, students were awarded a 'null sit' which allows for resits/alternative assessment 'at first attempt', or the award of credits on aggregate (see below).

In the week after the conclusion of the relevant Board of Examiners, students will be informed if they need to complete any further work to progress or graduate.

Mitigation for coronavirus in 2020/21

The School applied all measures put forward by the University to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on students and their studies.   Detail on the full package of measures can be found on the University's webpage Semester 2, 2020/21: Assessment - a package of measures to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus.  Below are details of additional actions taken in the school.

Progression, Awards, and Classification 

We have applied all University guidance related to progression, awards, and the calculation of eligibility for merit or distinction.

(Excepting the Masters of Social Work (MSW) which has additional professional requirements as detailed in their handbooks - MSW1 Handbook 2020-21 & MSW2 Handbook 2020-21.)

Credit on Aggregate

It is sometimes possible for Boards of Examiners to award credits 'on aggregate' to students who have failed individual courses.  This means that the student receives credit for the course with no requirement to resit failed assessments.  In 2020/21. requirements for progression and award were amended to allow students to gain credit for a larger volume of failed courses.

Typically boards apply "credit on aggregate" where they can so that students are not required to complete additional work over the summer, and/or prevented from graduating in the summer.  However, there are occasions where students with special circumstances may prefer to submit the work and receive a mark instead.  If you have been awarded credit on aggregate but wish to submit work instead, please contact the school via the student support team at as soon as possible and no later than 7 days after the publication of your mark.

Academic appeals

The University has in place a process for Academic Appeals, following the release of results.

An Appeal is a request for a decision made by a Board of Examiners relating to marks, progression, degree classification and/or degree award to be reviewed.

It is important to note that the appeal process cannot be used to challenge academic judgment; in other words, you cannot submit an appeal simply because you believe that you deserve a better mark.

There are specific grounds under which an Academic Appeal may be submitted. These are set out in the relevant university Academic Appeal Regulations. 

Information on the University’s Academic Appeals processes

When lodging an appeal, you must act promptly. Timescales are published here

If you are considering an appeal, please contact the Edinburgh University’s Student Association Advice Place for impartial advice and guidance.

Who to contact

On the day of the release of degree awards, students with concerns or queries about their result can contact the Student Support Office (via, during normal working hours.

Should you have questions about an individual course, progression or award outcome, please contact Dr Kate Wright, Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes via

Student category