Your degree explained

Understand the structure of a Sussex degree and know how to do well on your course.

How credits make a degree

To get your degree you have to achieve a certain number of credits.

You earn credits by passing modules.

Your degree will be made up of a certain number of modules, depending on the structure of your course.

Your whole course has been designed to provide a coherent learning experience, enabling you to meet the course learning outcomes and get a degree from Sussex.

Undergraduate courses

For an undergraduate course you must be registered on modules worth 120 credits per stage (in other words, per academic year if studying full-time). You can check this on Sussex Direct.

To progress to the next stage or be awarded your degree, you must achieve:

  • 120 credits at each stage
  • a stage mean of 40%.

If you’re on an integrated Masters course, the stage mean requirement is 50% in your final year.

Some courses have higher progression thresholds. Check this with your School if you’re not sure.

You may be given up to 30 credits through compensated credit, trailed credit or condoned credit.

Postgraduate courses

For a Masters course you must be registered on modules worth 180 credits.

To be awarded a degree, you must achieve:

  • 180 credits
  • a stage mean of 50%.

A stage on a postgraduate course refers to your whole degree, whether you’re full-time or part-time.

You may be given up to 30 credits through compensated credit or condoned credit.

If you’re doing a:

  • PGCert, you’ll need 60 credits and a stage mean of 50%
  • PGDip, you’ll need 120 credits and a stage mean of 50%.

PGCE courses have a higher credit requirement.

How your degree is classified

Once you’ve gained the credits you need, your classification is worked out.

Different stages are worth different percentages to your overall classification.

The total is called a grand mean.

See the contribution of different stages of your degree on your Module Results page on Sussex Direct.

This table shows our undergraduate classifications and what it takes to get a First.

Undergraduate classificationGrand mean
First class honours 70%-100%
Upper second class honours (2:1) 60%-69%
Lower second class honours (2:2) 50%-59%
Third class honours 40%-49%

This table shows our Masters classifications.

Masters classificationGrand mean
Distinction 70%-100% (plus 50% of the credit at 70 or above)
Merit 60%-69% (plus 50% of the credit at 60 or above)
Pass 50%-59%

See how results are calculated throughout your course.

Borderline criteria

There are some cases where you might get a higher class of degree.

If you’re an undergraduate and your grand mean is 1% below the higher classification boundary, and at least half the credits that contribute to the award are in the higher class, you will be given the higher classification. If you have fewer than half the credits, your exam board may give you the higher class.

If you’re a postgraduate, the exam board may reclassify you if you’ve achieved a grand mean that’s either:

  • 1% below the higher classification boundary and at least half the credits that contribute to the award are in the higher class, or
  • in the higher class (for instance, at 70%) but less than 50% of the credit that contributes to classification is in the higher class.

Compensated credit

Compensated credit is where you’re given credit despite not passing a module.

Up to 30 credits of modules will be automatically compensated on each stage of your course if:

  • the mark achieved on the module is a marginal fail: 35% to 39% for levels 3 to 6 or 45% to 49% for level 7 modules, and
  • you achieve a stage mean at the pass threshold: 40% for undergraduate students or 50% for postgraduates or students in the final stage of an integrated Masters degree.

You won’t need to take a mandatory resit but you’ll normally be offered an optional resit.

See more about resitting an assessment.


Condoned credit

Condoned credit is where you have failed a module but you don’t need to retake it because the exam board has considered your overall performance and decided that you have met the course learning outcomes.

Up to 30 credits of failed modules can be condoned in the final stage of an undergraduate degree, a foundation year or a postgraduate course, if you:

  • achieve a stage mean at the pass threshold: 40% for undergraduate students or 50% for postgraduates or students in the final stage of an integrated Masters degree and
  • achieve a mark of at least 1% on the module(s) to be condoned and
  • meet the course learning outcomes.

You won’t need to take a mandatory resit but you’ll normally be offered an optional resit.

See more about resitting an assessment.

Limitations of condoned and compensated credit

A combined maximum of 30 credits may be compensated or condoned in the final stage of an undergraduate degree, or on a foundation year, or a postgraduate course. For other stages of study, such as year 2 of an undergraduate course, a combined maximum of 30 credits may be compensated or trailed.

When your module is compensated or condoned, you are given the credits for it but you won’t be given a higher mark. The mark you achieved will stand.

Condoned or compensated credit cannot be given for some courses, for example, to comply with professional or statutory body requirements.

Some courses have additional criteria for compensated credit. If you’re in Life Sciences or Mathematical and Physical Sciences, ask your School for details.

The exam board has the discretion not to give condoned credit for academic reasons, or to offer a limited amount, such as 15 credits.

You won’t get condoned or compensated credit if you fail a postgraduate dissertation or research project. This does not apply to Online Distance Learning courses.


Trailed credit

You may be able to progress to the next stage of your course with a trailed resit to get credit for a failed module.

This resit will be in the next stage of your course so you don’t fall behind in your studies.

Trailed resits are not given on a foundation year, in the final stage or on a postgraduate degree.

The exam board has discretion to give a trailed resit where:

  • you have achieved an uncapped stage mean of 40% at the pass threshold and
  • you have achieved 90 credits from your other modules in the stage and
  • a combined maximum of 30 credits are trailed or compensated.

Important: Trailed resits will be scheduled in the resit assessment period for the module. You will not attend teaching, unless your School agrees this. You can ask your School if you can take a different non-core module (in which case you would attend teaching).


Second resits

You may be given second resits by the exam board, up to a maximum of 60 credits, if it does not allow you to progress into the next stage of your course or give you an award.

Second resits are offered during the next academic year. They will not be offered if you have already been given a repeat of the stage or semester. You don’t attend teaching for second resits.