Postgraduate Taught Courses: complaints and appeals

It is important for students to be clear about how to raise a concern or make a complaint, and how to appeal against the outcome of an assessment. In the case of a complaint about teaching or other provision,  nothing in the guidance below precludes an informal discussion with the person immediately responsible for  the issue which is the source of the complaint (and who may not be one of the individuals identified below). This is often the simplest way to achieve a satisfactory resolution.

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If a student’s concern or complaint relates to teaching or other provision made by the department, it should be raised with the course director, Director of Graduate Studies or Joint Consultative Committee/ Course Committee as appropriate. The officer concerned should attempt to resolve the concern/complaint informally. If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome, he or she may take the concern further by making a formal complaint to the Proctors. A complaint may cover aspects of teaching and learning (e.g. teaching facilities, supervision arrangements, etc.), and non-academic issues (e.g. support services, library  services, university accommodation, university clubs and societies, etc.). A complaint to the Proctors should  be made only if attempts at informal resolution have been unsuccessful. 

An appeal is defined as where a student wishes to challenge a decision relating to an academic matter which has been made by an academic committee or body.  For postgraduate taught courses, a concern which might lead to an appeal should be raised with the college authorities and the individual responsible for overseeing the student’s work. It must not be raised directly with examiners or assessors. If it is not possible to resolve the issue in this way, the student may put his/her concern in writing and submit it to the Proctors via the Senior Tutor or Tutor for Graduates of the college (or via the department, for non-matriculated students).

The Proctors are not empowered to challenge the academic judgement of examiners or academic bodies.  The Proctors can consider whether the procedures for reaching an academic decision were properly followed; i.e. whether there was a significant procedural administrative error; whether there is evidence of bias or inadequate assessment; whether the examiners failed to take into account special factors affecting a candidate’s performance.

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