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Regulations and Definitions Applying to the Determination of Results and Progression for all Pre-sessional Programmes 2023-24

1. Introduction

1.1 The following regulations apply to applicants who complete enrolment as from 1 May 2023 for all Pre-sessional Programmes of 6, 11 and 16 weeks. Terms defined in Section 2 of these regulations are capitalised in the following text

1.2 Where there are exceptional circumstances resulting in a student's performance being worthy of special consideration, as defined in the Regulations Governing Special Considerations (including Deadline Extension Requests) for all Taught Programmes and Taught Assessed Components of Research Degrees, a Board of Examiners, on the recommendation of a Special Considerations Board, has the authority to disregard aspects of these regulations and seek alternative evidence, to show that the required learning outcomes have been achieved. Detailed guidance for Boards of Examiners is given in the Quality Handbook.

1.3 Each Pre-sessional Programme consists of four Compulsory Modules in academic reading; academic writing; academic listening; and academic speaking. These four modules are Summatively assessed. 

1.4 All Modules in the Pre-Sessional Programme are given an individual code. Each code is prefixed with the letters PRES, followed by four numbers. Details of the individual modules can be found in the relevant Programme Specification,

2. Definitions specific to Pre-sessional Programmes

2.1 Average Mark contribution to the Programme: The Average Mark  is the mark  obtained  by  taking the average of all individual Summatively assessed PRES Module marks that contribute to the assessment of the Pre-sessional Programme. The average mark is recorded truncated to 1 decimal place in the assessment grid.

2.2 Compensation: Pass by Compensation is the award of credit for a Failed Summatively assessed PRES Module or Failed Average Mark that contributes to the Programme, on the basis that performance elsewhere in the Programme is sufficient to ensure the learning outcomes of the Pre-sessional Programme tested have been met,

2.3 Compulsory Module: A Compulsory Module is a Module which must be taken by all students on a particular Pre-sessional Programme. Only the four Summatively assessed Compulsory Modules may be Passed by Compensation.

2.4 Fail: A Fail may apply to a Module or Average Mark. A Failed Module is one in which the required Module Pass Mark has not been achieved. A Failed Average Mark is one in which the minimum required Average Pass Mark is not attained.

2.5 Formative Assessment:  Formative Assessment is typically  feedback from a  lecturer to the student. It is used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve the students' achievement of intended learning outcomes. Formative Assessment does not contribute to the Module Mark.

2.6 Module: A Module is a specified element of learning material with its own learning outcomes and assessment procedures. (The terms 'Unit' and, in the context of the Student Records System, 'Course' are synonymous with 'Module'.)

2.7 Module Mark: The Module Mark is the weighted  sum of all the components of summative   assessment for a given module. The weighted sum is rounded to the nearest integer for insertion into the assessment grid. The Module Mark is based on a 100-point Mark Scheme.

2.8 Non-Compensatable Fail: A Failed Module is Non-Compensatable if the mark achieved for the Module is lower than the Qualifying Mark, No credit will be awarded for a Non-Compensatable Failed Module.

2.9 Pass: A Pass may be achieved in a Module or a Programme. For a Module, a Pass is the award of credit for that module and may result from attaining at least the Module Pass Mark in the assessment or through Compensation. For a Programme, a Pass is achieved through attaining at least the  Average Pass Mark for the Programme or through Compensation.

2.10 Pass Mark: The Pass Mark is the minimum mark that must be achieved in order to pass. It may be applied to a Module or to the Average Mark for the Programme. Information about the relevant Pass Marks is detailed in the table in 3.2 below.

2.11 Pre-Sessional Programme: The Pre-sessional Programme is a collection of PRES Modules which are assessed as a group to determine Progression to the Substantive Programme.

2.12 Programme Specification: A specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. All programmes will have their own specification,

2.13 Progression: A student who Passes their Pre-sessional Programme may continue on to their Substantive Programme.

2.14 Qualifying Mark: The Qualifying Mark is the minimum mark that must be achieved in a Module in order for a Pass by Compensation for that Module to be awarded (see 3.2.1 below).

2.15 Repeat: Means taking all modules again as an internal candidate (i.e. attending all scheduled sessions and retaking all Summative assessments). The full tuition fee is charged for the Repeat.

2.16 Substantive Programme: This is the degree programme that an international student has applied for (for example BA History or MA Fashion Management), but s/he needs to improve their English language skills as a condition of entry to the University of Southampton, before commencing that degree programme.

2.17 Summative Assessment: Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement. Marks from Summative assessments contribute to the final Module Mark.

3.Criteria for Progression

3.1 In order to progress to the Substantive Programme all Summatively assessed 'PRES' modules and the Pre-Sessional Programme itself, must be passed at the specified Pass Mark except as allowed in paragraph 3.3 below.

3.2 The Average Mark that contributes to the (Pre-Sessional) Programme, the Module Pass Mark and Qualifying Mark for PRES modules in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking differ depending on the University’s English Language Requirements for your Substantive Programme. These are detailed in the table below:

for the 
‘PRES’ Listening‘PRES’ Reading‘PRES’ Writing‘PRES’ Speaking
Module Pass MarkQualifying MarkModule Pass MarkQualifying MarkModule Pass MarkQualifying MarkModule Pass MarkQualifying Mark

**The University’s English Language Requirements are grouped into “Bands”. Your offer letter will specify which Band you need to achieve in order to fulfil the English Language Requirements for your Substantive Programme.

3.3 A student will be able to achieve a Pass by Compensation if they meet the requirements of either 3.3.1or 3.3.2 below, but not both:

  • 3.3.1 A student achieving or exceeding the required Average Mark for the Programme, but failing to achieve the required Module Mark from Summatively assessed PRES modules (see (i) and (ii) below), may Pass by Compensation, provided no Module Mark is less than the Qualifying Mark, and will progress to their Substantive Programme.
    • (i) Pre-sessional Programmes 11 weeks or longer: up to two Summatively assessed PRES modules may be Passed by Compensation.
    • (ii) Pre-sessional Programmes less than 11 weeks: only one Summatively assessed PRES module may be Passed by Compensation.
  • 3.3.2 A student achieving the required Module Pass Mark in all Summatively assessed PRES modules, but failing to achieve the Average Pass Mark for the programme, may be awarded a Pass by Compensation provided the rounded Average Pass Mark is within 2 marks of the required Average Mark for the Programme, and will progress to their Substantive Programme.


4.1 A student who has not met the requirements to progress to their Substantive Programme at the first attempt may on one occasion Repeat the appropriate pre-sessional programme. Normally this will be the following year.

4.2 A student will be required to Repeat all Modules, including those Passed at the first attempt. Only Module marks and the Average Mark for the Part achieved during the Repeat attempt will be used to determine eligibility for progression to the Substantive Programme.

4.3 The Progression criteria for a Repeating student are the same as for the first attempt except that there is no further right of Repeat.


Approved by AQSC on 30 May 2018 and by Senate on 20 June 2018.

Reviewed May 2019; minor changes made to section 3. Approved by AQSC in July 2019. Approved by Senate July 2019.

Approved by AQSC on 19 February 2020 and by Senate on 29 July 2020.

Footnote regarding English Language Band: Approved by AQSC on 15 July 2022 and by Senate on 26 July 2022

Reviewed March 2023; minor changes made to paragraph 1.1 and substantive changes made to 

paragraph 3.2 (removal of English Language Bands B and F and accompanying footnote). Approved by AQSC (May 2023) and by Senate (May 2023)