Quality Manual

Academic Appeals Policy and Procedure

1.  Definitions

Academic Appeal

For the purposes of this policy an academic appeal, as defined by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), is a "request for a review of a decision of an academic body charged with making decisions on student progress, assessment and awards."

2. Overview of the Academic Appeals procedure

There are four potential stages to the procedure.

1) Cases subject to triage to assess eligibility for consideration under the Academic Appeals procedure.

2) Case considered by Academic Appeal Panel.

3) Case considered at an Academic Appeal Hearing.

4) Academic Appeal review.

After the internal University processes have been exhausted, appellants have the opportunity to have their case independently reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

3. Who can use the Academic Appeals procedure?

The appeals procedure is available to students of the University of Nottingham, with the exception of students who have had their registration suspended by the University, other than at their own request under the Voluntary Interruption of Studies procedure.

4. The right to appeal

Students have the right to appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee against the following final decisions of an academic body charged with making decisions on assessment, progression and awards:

(a) The conditions imposed and/or the requirement to take reassessments to progress to the next stage of a taught course/phase of research study.

(b) A decision to terminate a student's current programme of study.  This includes students whose programme of study is terminated but who are offered a transfer to another taught course or research degree.

(c) A classification decision.  In addition to appeals against the class of Honours degree awarded, this also includes appeals against the classification of postgraduate awards and of other undergraduate awards.

(d) A decision not to award the qualification for which a student is registered.  This relates to decisions made at the end of a student's taught course or research degree; and includes appeals against decisions not to award any qualification or to award a lower qualification.

(e) A decision of a University Fitness to Practise Committee or Practice Assessment Panel.  This is relevant to students on professional courses who have been the subject of Fitness to Practise procedures.

(f) The outcome of an Extenuating Circumstances claim.

5. Grounds for Appeals

5.1 It is for the student to establish the case and only claims of at least one of the following circumstances will be considered as grounds for appeal:

(i) That parts of the documented assessment procedure were not applied and that this procedural irregularity, which has disadvantaged the student was significant enough to have materially affected  the decision/recommendation made, rendering it unsound.

(ii) That prejudice or bias on the part of one or more of the Examiners took place and can be proven or there are reasonable grounds to support the perception of prejudice or bias.

(iii) That the decision making body took a decision which no reasonable person would find comprehensible. Disagreement with the decision does not make it manifestly unreasonable. To apply this ground you must provide substantive argumentation as to why no reasonable person could have arrived at the decision that was made.

5.2 The following circumstances will not be considered grounds for appeal:

(a) Perceived shortcomings in tuition, supervision or support.  Concerns relating to the quality of teaching or supervision, or other circumstances that relate to the delivery of a programme of study should be raised under the Student Complaints Policy before the point of assessment or the submission of a thesis or dissertation. Cases where complaints are upheld and there has been a clear impact on an academic outcome may lead to an academic conclusion e.g. allow a student a further attempt at an assessment.

(b) Matters of academic judgement of a School Board of Examiners or individual.  The student will not be permitted to argue the academic merits of his/her work. The student's assertion that the result unfairly reflects the merit of their work or their ability is not a ground  of appeal.

(c) Disagreement with the actual mark awarded for a piece of assessed work except where grounds can be established under 5.1.  If a student wished to have clarification about a mark received for an individual assessment or module they are advised to contact their School or module convener directly.  Errors in calculating or recording marks on the basis of which the original decision was made cannot be submitted as grounds for appeal, unless these errors have been brought to the School's attention but not accepted by the School.

(d) Appeals against provisional marks.

6. Principles of the policy

  • The decisions made will be reasonable and, where required, provide appropriate redress.

  • Appeals submitted outside the timescales prescribed in the procedure will only be considered in the most exceptional circumstance and where there is good reason, supported by evidence, for the late submission.
  • Appeals will be treated seriously and students will not suffer any disadvantage or recrimination as result of making an appeal in good faith.
  • The University will not accept or investigate appeals which it considers frivolous or vexatious and observes OIA guidance to identify such cases.
  • The procedures are fair and transparent.
  • The process is evidence-based.
  • The University will correspond only with the student, unless otherwise requested in writing by the student.
  • Appeals procedures are internal to a university and do not have the same degree of formality as a court of law.  As such, legal representation in meetings and hearings is not necessary or appropriate for a student or the University during the appeals process and will not, therefore, be permitted. 
  • Students are encouraged to seek advice from an Education Adviser in the Student Advice Centre or equivalent office on the campuses in Malaysia and China at any stage in the process, including seeking advice on how to present their case effectively.
  • Appeals form part of the University's process of quality review and improvement and are considered as providing valuable feedback rather than criticism.  We will widely publicise information about procedures to students and staff, and all Schools and Central Services are required to provide a link to them via their websites.
  • Students will be notified early in the process if the remedy sought within the appeal is beyond what the University can reasonably provide or what is in its power to provide.

7. Recording and monitoring of academic appeals

It is important that appeals are monitored in order to improve the student experience.  The Complaints and Conduct Team will record and provide reports to indicate the nature of appeals and outcomes.  Such reports will;

  • Feed into the monitoring and evaluation procedure at various levels: department, school, faculty, University;
  • Feed directly into appropriate University-wide committees;
  • Assist in identifying problems and trends across the University;
  • Form the basis of positive publicity, in demonstrating that identified issues have been resolved;
  • Be made available to the Students' union


8. Related policies and procedures


Academic Appeals Policy Word Version

Student Complaints Procedure Word Version

Extenuating Circumstances Policy and Procedures

Academic Appeals procedure

Last amended 27 September 2016





Academic Services Division

Portland Building, University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Fax: +44 (0) 115 951 5540