Term 1, 2020: Assessment changes to accommodate COVID-19 FAQs

Why has the grading basis been changed for (T1) Term 1?

Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, UNSW has quickly transitioned to online learning and adjusted assessment tasks appropriately. The transitioning of lessons online has impacted on students’ studies and the way we will deliver assessment.  

To better support students, some Faculties have consulted with student leaders and changed the grading for some courses to SY/FL (Successful/Fail) for T1. This move will assist students impacted by the move to online learning which may have affected their ability to fully demonstrate their achievement in the course. 

Is there a choice to opt in/out?

There is no choice to opt in or opt out. Your Faculty has carefully considered the nature of each course and discipline and is changing the grading basis to SY/FL if it is the best way to support students given the complexities of teaching and assessment due to COVID-19.

What is a successful grade (SY), how will it impact my WAM and how will it appear on my academic statement?

A Successful (SY) grade means that you have successfully completed a course. This means that: 

  • No numerical mark is given  
  • The course will appear on your Academic Statement and Official Academic Transcript with a grade of SY 
  • The grade is not included in the calculation of the WAM 
  • The grade is included in the calculation of academic standing 
  • The course will count towards your degree

To achieve a Successful (SY) grade, you will need to demonstrate, via your performance in the assessment tasks, that you have met the learning outcomes of the course. This will differ for each course but if you have any doubts please speak to your course convener.  

More information on UNSW grading can be found here.  

How will a Fail in Term1 2020 impact my WAM and how will it appear on my academic statement?

A Fail (FL) grade means that you have not successfully completed a course. The following is true whether your course is graded or Successful/Fail:

  • The failed course:
    • will not appear on your Official Academic Transcript
    • will not be used in any WAM calculations
    • will not be included in the calculation of your academic standing
    • will prevent you enrolling in any further courses for which the failed course is a prerequisite, until the course can be re-taken and successfully completed.
    • will not count towards your degree.

Does the SY grade apply to all assessments or just my final grade?

The SY grade only applies to your final grade. Marks for assessments within a course will remain as they are set out in the course outline, unless they are adjusted by your course convenor, in which case you will be notified.  Such changes may have been necessary because of the impact of moving to an online learning environment.

What if I’m required to achieve a certain mark in this course in order to advance to another course or program; to be eligible for Honours; or to transfer programs (IPT); or to be eligible to graduate with Distinction/Excellence?

As Undergraduate students study 24 or 32 Courses in typical three or four year Degrees, we anticipate that the overall impact on WAMs of SY grades in Term 1 will not be large but we want to reassure you that when we assess Undergraduate and Postgraduate academic performance in the future, we will consider entire transcripts and note any impacts associated with this unique situation. Further, more detailed information for particular programs will be available soon.

What if my course already had a grading basis of Satisfactory/Fail?

There is no change if your course already had Satisfactory/Fail grading.

However from Term 1 onwards, the word Successful will appear on your transcript in place of the word Satisfactory.

How do I find out if my course has changed to SY/FL for T1?

You should have already received an email from your Faculty, School or Course Convenor.  Course specific information will be available on your Moodle site (or alternate course website).

If my course has changed to SY/FL for T1 does that mean my assessment has changed too?

This will vary from course to course. Your Course Convenor will send more detailed information via Moodle and/or email.

Why are not all courses moving to SY/FL for T1?

Each Faculty has assessed the impact of the move to online modes on teaching and the learning and assessment in each course and made an overall judgement whether courses should still be assessed against a full range of grades.  Where they have determined the full range of grades would no longer be appropriate they have moved to SY/FL for T1.

I am an exchange student and my home institution require a graded score in order to count it to my degree. What should I do?

Many universities across the world are also making adjustments. Please contact the Study Abroad & Exchange office for advice. We can liaise with your home institution to assist with this situation.  

Exchange students: [email protected]  

Study Abroad students: [email protected] 

If special circumstances adversely affect me can I apply for fee remission if I fail, even though the course won’t appear on my transcript anyway?

Although the course does not appear on your transcript it is still recorded in University records.  If your circumstances fall within the usual basis for an application for fee remission, you can apply for a re-credit, remission or a refund of all course fees.  

More information on Fee Remission can be found here.

I dropped my course before the grading change, can I re-enrol now that I know it will be SY/FL grading basis?

If your Course Convenor determines that you have not missed too much of the course content and believes that you will be able to pass the course, then you can apply to re-enrol. You should first contact your Course Convenor for confirmation and then contact your Program Authority.  

How does the grading change affect articulation to the Grad Dip / Masters?

Eligibility to articulate to Grad Dip/Masters will still be assessed on the basis of current (pre-Term 1) WAM, and discretion will be applied to ensure that students achieving SY grades this term are not disadvantaged.  Further information for individual programs will be available soon.

Will this affect students who are applying for scholarships?

An SY/FL grade will have no negative effect on UNSW scholarships. As all universities worldwide are adapting to the implications of COVID-19, scholarship applications internationally will need to be flexible in 2021.   We will work with students applying for scholarships to overcome any issues with applications as a result of COVID-19.

More information on UNSW Scholarships can be found here.

If I am assigned a fail grade following an academic misconduct investigation, will that appear on my transcript and affect my WAM or my academic standing?

Yes, if you fail a course because of a finding of academic misconduct – for example if you are found to have plagiarised an assessment – the course and the fail grade will appear on your academic transcript.

That fail result will also be included in the calculation of your WAM and included in the calculation of your academic standing.

If I fail a course in T1 and it doesn’t appear on my transcript – do I still have to pay for the course?


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