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Assessment Disputes

Concerns about assessment are not uncommon. Issues may range from confusion about how a mark was derived or what went wrong in an assignment or exam to more complicated matters regarding marking procedures or the conduct of the assessment.

There are two key areas that disputes usually fall into:

  • disputes about academic judgement – which is the department’s academic opinion about your work, or
  • procedural issues – how the University’s principles relating to assessment were applied.

This is also outlined on the University’s ask.unimelb page for appealing a grade.

You are entitled to receive feedback on any work you submit. This is to help you to understand what you could do to improve your performance and should also indicate how you have performed against assessment criteria. You are not automatically entitled to have your work remarked or marked by someone else for any reason. However, any work that is marked as a fail should have already been marked by two independent examiners or assistant markers.

If the semester has ended and you are concerned about your exam result or final grade, act immediately. Contact the examiner (usually the subject coordinator) to seek feedback about your performance. Examiners are required to be available to meet with students after the release of results, but some students find it difficult to contact academics during the non-teaching period.

You can dispute assessment decisions on two grounds. If the issue is that you feel there has been an error in the academic judgement of the assessor,  for example if you feel that the mark has been incorrectly derived based on the assessment criteria, or the feedback you have received does not correspond to the marks awarded, you may be able to dispute this. You need to write to the chair of the Examination Board (you can contact Stop 1 to see who this is) and explain the reason you are not satisfied with the mark. Then they will decide whether the original grade was correctly determined according to the established marking criteria or rubric.

If your marker is not cooperative with you on this matter, or you are not satisfied with their response, and/or you believe that the procedure has not been fair, you can approach the course coordinator or the Head of Department for further assistance. Should the matter still not be resolved, it may be helpful to make an appointment to see one of us as we can assist you in lodging a formal grievance. This should explain your concerns and list all the steps you have taken to try to resolve the matter up to this point. You should expect a response to your grievance within fifteen working days. If, after this, the outcome is still unsatisfactory, we can support you in lodging an appeal to the Academic Board.

Alternatively, your concern might more properly be framed as a procedural error regarding the implementation of the assessment subject to the Assessment and Results Policy. In this case appeals may be made directly to the Academic Board based on procedural irregularity, as per the Student Appeals to the Academic Board Policy.

The University’s Assessment and Results Policy outlines that any fixed assessment requirements (i.e. form, size, timing and weighting of assessment) must be published in the Handbook. The following assessment details must be published in the subject outline:

  • criteria on which tasks will be marked and grades allocated
  • due date
  • format for submission
  • any prescribed style requirements and guidelines for failure to follow these
  • penalties for late submission

It is not unusual for students to feel worried that they will be seen as a troublemaker by the department if they ask questions about assessment marks. If you have concerns about how your questions will be received by staff in your department, contact us to get some independent advice on the situation. We can assist you with each step, and in some cases, approach the department on your behalf. If you feel like you have been discriminated against in some way, you can also read more about the process to resolve this on our discrimination page.

University Policies, Procedures and Legislation

The Assessment and Results Policy provides a great deal of useful information about the conduct of assessment in coursework degrees.

The relevant University statute is the Academic Board Regulation.

Disputes arising under aspects of assessment policy are dealt with through the Student Complaints and Grievances Policy. Information from the University about this policy and procedure can be found on the Melbourne Students & Learning website. You can also read more about how this process works on our Grievances and Complaints page.

The University’s ask.unimelb page describes this process quite simply as well, outlining the different processes for disputes based on academic judgement as opposed to procedural complaints.