Examinations - notes, rights and obligations
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The examinations office or the examining board are important contact partners for all matters related to exams and examination regulations.
The examining board for a course is the central committee where decisions about examination procedures are made. The responsibilities of the examining board are particularly laid down in Section 4 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. All the applications, e.g. to register for your final dissertation, must be sent to the examining board and it will make the relevant decision. The examining board consists of representatives from the professors, the students and the academic staff. The members are obliged to maintain secrecy.
The examinations office supports the examining board in its work. The examinations office administers the examination results of individual students, handles registration and deregistration from examinations, maintains the examinations files or issues certificates and documents, for example. You can also obtain information about examination issues and gain advice.
Your subject examination regulations or your faculty will inform you about which examining board or which examinations office is responsible for you.
Examination regulations are an important guide for your university course. They regulate the content, requirements, timing and procedures for the exams for a particular degree course.
The curriculum and examination schedule form an important element in the examination regulations (the module guidebook in older regulations too) and there is often an example of a course timetable. This shows which unit of instruction you should sensibly complete and in which semester. Examination regulations are also important from a legal point of view.
They form the legal basis for examinations through their binding rules and are designed to primarily guarantee equal opportunities. They give rise to particular rights and obligations for students.
There are two kinds of examination regulations for bachelors’ and masters’ degree courses at the University of Kassel:
- The General Stipulations
- and the subject examination regulations.
The General Stipulations contain generally valid regulations that apply equally to all the bachelors’ and masters’ degree courses. The subject examination regulations provide the specific rules for the individual degree courses. The General Stipulations and the subject examination regulations therefore both apply alongside each other and are complementary.
The following applies to your personal course: the course is normally completed in line with the subject examination regulations that applied at the time when you enrolled. As for the General Stipulations, the version that is in force at the time normally applies. There may be exceptions to this rule if the examination regulations change. However, only the texts in a version of the examination regulations that has been published in the University of Kassel’s Gazette are legally binding.
The German constitution provides the basis for having examination regulations to manage exams:
Exams are viewed as an intrusion in the right to freely choose an occupation (Article 12 Para. 1 of the Constitution). These intrusions must be settled on a legal basis (the so-called principle of legality).
The University as an independently administered body is empowered by the Hesse Higher Education Act to issue examination regulations. Subject examination regulations are normally issued by the faculties. The academic board must agree to the subject examination regulations and the senior administrative officers must approve them. The academic board makes decisions about the General Stipulations.
The examination regulations come into force when they have been published in the University of Kassel’s Gazette.
General regulations are found in the General Stipulations:
The General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees contain, for example, information about modules, credits as well as details about coursework and examination work (types, registration, assessment, weighting of grades, failure to turn up, withdrawal, cheating, passing, repeating exams, deadlines, crediting), objecting to results and inspecting files. The requirements for placements are explained in greater detail in the General Stipulations for practical modules.
The subject examination regulations flesh out the General Stipulations with rules related to the specific degree course – e.g. the normal length of the course, the academic degree, the content of the modules and their credits, the admission requirements and the final degree dissertation.
Generally, the subject examination regulations, which were valid at the time of enrolment for a degree course, apply to that course. However, it is possible that the content of subject examination regulations has to be adapted to the latest needs – e.g. because an error has slipped in, the statutory requirements may have changed or modules may have to be modified.
If these kinds of changes are introduced, amendments to regulations are normally issued. That is to say, changes are only made to parts of the subject examination regulations and the original subject examination regulations are retained. Both regulations therefore need to be viewed together.
In principle, students enjoy protection of legitimate expectations if any changes are made to the examination regulations – i.e. the examination regulations may not normally be modified to the detriment of students who have already enrolled. As a result, the changes made to the subject examination regulations normally only apply to students who are starting the course after the change to the regulations has come into force. However, if the changes benefit the students or do not have any direct influence on students who are continuing the degree course, the changes may also apply to all students on the course. If the changes also have a detrimental effect on students who have already enrolled, the changes to the regulations must also include transitional arrangements, which state the conditions under which the degree course can be continued by students who are studying in line with the subject examination regulations that applied in the past.
New subject examination regulations may be issued for a degree course instead of amending the old ones in cases of reaccreditation or if it is necessary to complete a major revision. In many cases (e.g. if several changes have already been published for subject examination regulations), a new version of the subject examination regulations may also be issued, i.e. the change(s) is (are) incorporated within the existing subject examination regulations so that they are easier to read. In both cases, however, the same rules regarding validity and protection of legitimate expectations apply as for the amended regulations.
Older examination regulations may become invalid – e.g. if there are new versions of the regulations or if a degree course is about to be halted. If examination regulations cease to be valid, the formal legal basis for further exams is then missing – i.e. no more exams can be taken according to these examination regulations and it is no longer possible to continue studying a degree course according to these examination regulations.
The process of invalidating examination regulations has to be made by a change in the regulations, in which a date for terminating their validity is set. Any invalidation of regulations may normally only take place at the University of Kassel after one-and-a-half times the normal study period at the earliest, calculated from the last enrolment date under these examination regulations. This is designed to ensure that all students can still complete their degree course in good time.
According to the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees, any students affected by the invalidation of examination regulations must be informed about the situation. If students are no longer able to complete their degree course before the regulations cease to be valid in an exceptional situation, there are normally opportunities to switch into other degree courses or other versions of examination regulations or there are arrangements for hardship cases. Please contact the relevant examining board in good time, if this is the case. Advisory services provided by subject information and advice bodies, the general student advisory service (organising the final phase, alternatives) or the student services organisation (social advice, financial advice, psycho-social advice) are all available to provide support during the final phase of a degree course.
Yes. Anyone who satisfies the admission qualifications for an examination has the right to be examined, if there are no serious reasons that oppose this (e.g. attempted cheating). Once you are admitted to an examination, you have a fundamental right to complete the examination procedure (or continue it, if you had to interrupt it).
The obligations for a candidate include familiarising themselves with the examination regulations. This gives rise to further obligations to cooperate:
For example, to comply with deadlines (registration, submitting your dissertation in good time, etc.), refraining from any disturbances and attempts at cheating during the exam, providing information about being unfit to sit the exam or any chronic sicknesses.
The obligations to cooperate for a candidate also include helping to ensure a correct examination procedure if there are obvious shortfalls during the exam. A candidate has several possibilities available here – notification, complaining about the process and – as a final resort – submitting a declaration of withdrawal. These options must be asserted with the examiner or the examining board immediately, if any shortfalls occur. It is not therefore possible to initially tolerate a disturbance – for tactical reasons, for example – and only complain about the process after the assessment procedure, because your grade is poor.
Notification and complaints should clearly point out the grievance that you have experienced. Possible obvious shortfalls include shortfalls in the room/workplace (e.g. the desk is too small, poor lighting/ventilation, heat, cold, smells), disturbances (e.g. through building noise), doubts about the examiners’ examining skills (e.g. partiality, sickness).
Yes. If you fail to turn up for the examination without having an important reason for this, it will be marked as “unacceptable” (5.0) according to the General Stipulations for Subject Examination Regulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees at the University of Kassel. This also applies to handing in written dissertations too late, for example. Students only have the right to withdraw from a registered examination if they have an important reason for doing so – e.g. sickness.
A candidate’s rights emerge from his or her obligations. Students, for example, have a right to receive information – so the examination offices or examiners therefore have certain duties of care and notification. However, the candidate must attend to information if he or she has access to it (e.g. it is assumed that candidates are generally familiar with examination regulations that have been correctly published).
The examining boards’ duties of care and notification include, for example, announcing the necessary deadlines and conditions for sitting the exam (e.g. the time and place of the examination, tools that are permitted, etc.) in good time. They must also ensure that the examination content is sufficiently specific and suitable, the examination tasks are clearly and plainly set and the examination rooms are suitable (e.g. no noise, protection from cold/heat, adequate lighting, no powerful smells). The examiner must be fit for the examination during its course (qualified in terms of the subject, impartial, fair, objective, healthy).
If any shortfalls occur, a candidate has the opportunity of highlighting any drawbacks, complaining about them or even withdrawing from the examination. The examinations office/examining board/examiner must remedy any shortfalls (e.g. improve the ventilation, change the room, introduce other suitable compensation measures like extending the examination time) and correct any obvious errors (e.g. eliminate faults, reassess or repeat the exam).
Yes. Students have the right to withdraw from an exam for an important reason. Notification of any withdrawal must be immediately sent to the chairperson of the examining board in writing, according to the General Stipulations for Subject Examination Regulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees, and must be substantiated i.e. you must cite the reasons for it.
More information: withdrawing from examination work.
Yes. According to the General Stipulations for Subject Examination Regulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees, students may be allowed the opportunity to complete exam work in a form that is different from that envisaged or within an extended working period (“compensation for drawbacks”). This opportunity exists if the candidate is suffering from a serious or chronic illness or disability, is caring for children or relatives who require support or care or during maternity or parental leave.
The subject examination regulations may also stipulate alternative forms for students to complete the work in special situations (e.g. students with a child), those spending time abroad, those on placements or comparable units of instruction. In cases of sickness or other reasons, for which the candidate for an exam is not responsible, it is also possible to extend the working period for a final dissertation. The individual subject examination regulations determine the extension period (by no more than half the envisaged working period).
Those affected in each case must credibly assert that they are not in a position to fully or partly complete the exam work that is required. The examining board may, for example, request a medical certificate. It is important to make the relevant application to the examining board at an early stage (at the latest when registering for the examination).
- You can find the application form for compensation for drawbacks (e.g. during parental leave, maternity leave or when providing nursing care) on the “University Course and Disability” pages. (German only)
- More information on the topic of Maternity Leave during Your Degree Course.
- Information on reconciling your family and career is available from the Women’s and Equal Opportunities Office. (German only)
Yes. According to the General Stipulations for Subject Examination Regulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees, the faculties must provide an opportunity for students to inspect their examination documents for didactic reasons (e.g. inspecting a written exam, post-examination discussions). However, it is not normally permissible to make any copies, duplicates or take photos.
Please obtain information about the opportunities for inspecting examination documents for didactic reasons (inspecting a written exam) directly with your faculty.
Each candidate also has a formal right to inspect their file. According to the General Stipulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees, students may apply for the right to inspect their examination files with the examining board for the period of one year after completing the examination procedure. This relates to each individual module examination too. The examining board must enable the student to inspect the file within one month of the application having been submitted; the examining board decides the time and place for this. Notes, duplicates, photos and copies may be made during the formal file inspection (you may have to pay for copies), but they may not be passed on to others – apart from a lawyer as part of a legal objection or court proceedings.
The examining board has to handle any notification, complaint, withdrawal, application for compensation for drawbacks or an application to inspect a file and – if the conditions have been met – respond appropriately: find a remedy (notification, complaint), approve the withdrawal, create the appropriate compensation for drawbacks or grant a right to inspect a file.
If it fails to respond to some notification or a complaint, the candidate may – if the conditions for this have been met – withdraw from the examination or launch legal proceedings. The same applies if the examining board refuses a request for withdrawal or an application for compensation for drawbacks or for the inspection of a file. If an examination is interrupted – e.g. by withdrawal – the right to sit an examination creates a right to continue the examination process that has been started. Any parts of the examination, which have already been passed, do not normally have to be repeated.
You can find more information under “Objections to examinations” too.
Requirements for the use of gender-appropriate language in examinations may be permissible under certain conditions. However, the prerequisite is always that there is a sufficient technical or professional reference in the specific examination. The consideration of gender-equitable language as a so-called "element of examination-specific assessment" must not be arbitrary. In general, the principle of proportionality must be observed. As far as there is no final clarity about the admissibility of the specification, the "answer leeway of the examinee" must be respected, who must not be disadvantaged by a deviating use of language.
- Formal reasons (Section 10 Para. 2 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees): Sitting an examination without registering for it could theoretically not be assessed.
- Failing to register can create follow-on problems (e.g. BAföG deadlines, not being able to take other exams, etc.), and therefore a possible delay in your studies.
Students must register for examination work via the Internet portal at the University of Kassel (QIS/LSF/HIS-POS).
- Enrolment on a degree course
- No more than two failed attempts (no work that has been irrevocably failed)
- Examination procedures in the same module must have been completed (technically it is not possible to register if you have registered for the same module more than once)
- You may need to provide some preliminary work – e.g. student work or particular examination work (depending on the subject examination regulations).
The registration deadlines are set and announced by your faculty/examining board. They should be set in such a way that it is possible to complete the degree course within the standard study period.
- The start of registration (registration for examination work is possible from this time onwards)
- The end of registration (registration for examination work is possible until this time)
- The end of the deregistration period (deregistration without an important reason is possible until this time)
In principle, the following applies: if you fail to turn up for an examination, you have failed it (General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees), so that if you cannot take an examination, you must deregister (within the deadline) or withdraw (for an important reason after the end of the deadline).
- Before the end of the deadline: deregister via the Internet portal (QIS/LSF)
- After the end of the deadline: withdraw according to Section 15 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees (withdrawal before or during the examination): this is only possible for an important reason, by writing immediately to the examining board.
- Register all your examination work on the Internet portal as early as possible and withdraw in good time, if you need to.
- Registration for bachelor’s and master’s degree dissertations takes place in writing with the examinations office, according to Section 10 Para. 3-9 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees.
- If relevant, take note of the compensation for drawbacks (Section 11 Para. 5-7 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees).
- Take note of the rules in your own subject examination regulations.
If you have any questions or mistakes have occurred or things have not been clarified, please contact your responsible examinations office in good time!
Students are able to use the Internet portal (QIS/LSF/HIS-POS) to perform three important functions:
- To register and deregister work
- To obtain information about registered work
- To obtain a summary of work completed
When registering, selecting the examination normally follows the following sequence: subject, module, exam, unit of instruction, date.
The system informs students about any registration and deregistration deadlines that have been recorded.
After you attempt to register, the “Status” box will either display OK or an error message. The registration process was only successful if OK appears. These registration processes can then be seen under “Information about registered work”.
- more information about administering exams electronically
- Before the end of the registration/deregistration deadline:
candidates can deregister from an exam before the end of the registration or deregistration deadline that has been announced by the faculty; this normally takes place via the Internet portal or possibly via the examinations office. Please note that the programme has to confirm the deregistration process too. No special reasons must be given to deregister within the deadline. You can find more information on this under “Registering examination work”.
- After the end of the registration or deregistration deadline:it is only permissible to withdraw from examination work after the end of a deadline for an important reason;
the rules in Section 15 Para. 3 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees then apply; notification of any withdrawal must be sent to the chairperson of the examining board in writing immediately and a credible reason for this must be provided.
Any withdrawal from an examination after the end of the registration or deregistration deadline should take place before the date of the examination – if at all possible – as soon as it is clear to the candidate that he/she cannot sit the examination, for which he/she has registered.
However, it is also possible to withdraw from an exam during the course of it. You must report any inability to take the examination to the examiner clearly and immediately. It is then essential to register your withdrawal with the examining board in writing and provide credible reasons for this.
It is only possible to withdraw from an examination in retrospect if the candidate did not realise during the exam that he or she was unable to sit it (e.g. because of a sickness that was only detected afterwards). Immediate notification with evidence must be sent here too. However, if you are aware that you are not able to perform to the best of your ability during the examination, but want to “give it a try”, it is normally no longer possible to withdraw in retrospect. Candidates may not therefore wait and only withdraw, once their poor results have been announced.
Withdrawing from any examination work, for which you have registered, is only possible for an important reason after the end of the deadline. The following particularly count as important reasons:
sickness/inability to take the exam, a sudden calamity (e.g. the death of a relative), or other events that cannot be planned or foreseen and because of which it is no longer reasonable to expect a person to sit the exam (e.g. the loss of child care at short notice, an accident on the way to the exam, the cancellation of local public transport services without any replacement, etc.).
The reason for the withdrawal must be clearly substantiated for the examining board, e.g. a medical certificate in the case of any sickness. In other cases, other evidence or certificates must be submitted. The original documents must be presented.
Please note: if you do not provide a credible reason for your withdrawal or failure to turn up for the exam and no medical certificate is presented in the case of sickness, the examination will be marked as “unacceptable” (5.0) according to Section 15 Para. 1 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees.
Written notification of any withdrawal and providing a credible reason for this should take place without any delay on your part – i.e. as soon as the situation allows, the candidate must report to the examinations office. It is not always possible to immediately present a medical certificate if you are sick, for example – because of the waiting time at the doctor’s surgery or because you are unable to see the doctor because of the sickness. The withdrawal and presentation of the medical certificate should, however, take place as quickly as possible, as soon as the candidate is able to do so.
If the candidate is not personally in a position to travel to the examinations office, it is possible to send the documents by post or ask somebody to handle the withdrawal. However, a medical certificate should normally be presented at the latest three days after the start of the illness. Please note that an e-mail does not count as written notification; “in writing” means a paper document that you have personally signed.
If you are unable to submit your withdrawal in writing before the date of the exam, you should – if possible – inform the examinations office and/or the examiner that you will not be sitting the examination as quickly as possible by phone or e-mail for organisational reasons. Please note, however, that you still have to hand in your written withdrawal notice immediately!
It is not sufficient to register sick with your lecturer. Any withdrawal from an examination must be sent to the chairperson of the examining board, in line with Section 15 Para. 3 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. You do not need to directly contact the chairperson, but the responsible examinations office, which will accept and process your withdrawal. However, you do not need to personally appear at the examinations office, but can also deliver the documents, send them by post or ask somebody else to handle this task.
You can find the examinations office responsible for you on your faculty’s home page.
If you are withdrawing from an examination that you registered for because you are sick, you must immediately present a medical certificate to the chairperson of the examining board, according to the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. A sick note confirming your incapacity to work is normally adequate as a medical certificate. The examining board, however, may also demand a qualified certificate or a certificate from a public health officer in justified cases of doubt (e.g. if you have registered sick on several occasions or if your inability to take the exam has not been recognised).
The time allowed to complete your bachelor’s or master’s degree dissertation may be extended, according to Section 23 Para. 8 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees, if the candidate cannot meet the submission date for reasons that are beyond his or her control. These include the important reasons mentioned above, but the same procedure applies here, as when withdrawing from examinations: the important reason must be provided immediately and in writing in a credible manner. Any extension of the time allowed to complete your dissertation is determined by the period of the impediment (a specific rule in the relevant subject examination regulations, but no more than 50% of the time allowed).
The examining board must approve your withdrawal, if you have given credible reasons for it and submitted it immediately. The examination is then regarded as having not been taken and there are then no restrictions that would prevent you from repeating it.
If the Internet portal initially still indicates that you have “failed” the exam that you were unable to sit, despite your withdrawal, this may be because your withdrawal has not yet been processed/registered. If this message does not change despite your attempt to withdraw, please contact the examinations office.
Students have a right to a supplementary oral exam if they have not passed the second repeat of a written examination (i.e. the third attempt at the exam). The supplementary oral exam can only be used once on each course and only in connection with written examinations.
The right to a supplementary oral exam lapses if the second attempt at the examination was marked “unacceptable” (5.0) because the student
- did not sit the second examination attempt or failed to turn up without having an important reason (non-attendance according to Section 15 Para. 1 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees)
- handed in a blank sheet or
- tried to cheat or committed an infringement of the regulations according to Section 16 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees.
The student must apply to the examining board in writing to take the supplementary oral exam. Please take note of the following:
- The application must be submitted within a deadline of four weeks after the announcement of the examination results.
- The student may not have made an application for a supplementary oral exam during the same course or have already completed a supplementary oral exam.
- The exam date is set by the examining board and should be within eight weeks of the application for the oral exam. The student may withdraw according to the conditions in Section 15 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. If the candidate fails to turn up for the exam without any recognised withdrawal, the examination shall be regarded as having been “failed”.
- The length of the supplementary oral exam shall be guided by the normal duration of oral examinations and shall depend on how the exam proceeds. However, it should last at least 10 minutes and be no longer than 30 minutes.
- The supplementary oral exam shall be conducted and assessed by two examiners.
- If they are not the same examiners as for the original examination, the examiners who provided the initial assessment must be heard before any grade is awarded. If they are unable to reach agreement about the grade, the examining board shall make the final decision. The result of the examination shall only then be communicated to the student.
- The supplementary oral exam shall not be assessed independently. The supplementary exam may improve the grade of the second repeated exam to “satisfactory” (4.0) so that it has been passed or it may confirm that the repeat examination has been failed.
The supplementary oral exam should initially deal with the result of the written examination work (second repeat examination).
Discussions then take place to examine whether the candidate has achieved a standard that still meets the requirements for an adequate performance in the exam, despite the shortfalls that occurred in the written exam.
That is to say, the discussions do not just focus on the questions that were wrongly answered in the written exam, but also on the envisaged learning results/skills/qualification goals within the complete module.
Attendance requirements at the University of Kassel are only permissible in justified exceptional cases. According to the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees, the following may be justified exceptional cases:
- Seminars, practical projects or placements, where there are restrictions in terms of capacity (e.g. laboratory places) or those that are held in conjunction with other entities (e.g. schools).
- Units of instruction or modules where the interaction between students plays a special role.
- Partial module performance, for which no separate examination or course work is required beyond attendance, according to the examination regulations.
- Attendance registers: students’ attendance can be checked in the form of attendance registers. Attendance registers may only have consequences in terms of examination procedures if they are listed in the curriculum and examination plan in the module concerned as a condition for admission to the examination work (e.g. as “regular participation”).
- "Active participation": regular active participation may be expressed as an attendance rule as a condition for admission to examination work and/or as coursework in the curriculum and examination plan at a module level too. Regular active participation requires more than just your physical presence and cannot simply be logged by using attendance registers. That is to say, accreditation for this kind of coursework cannot just be refused because of your absence at individual units of instruction. Teachers should discuss the criteria for regular active participation with the students (e.g. contributions to discussions, reports, short oral presentations, group work, chairing meetings etc.). The scope of this coursework must be proportionate to the workload within the module.
- "Implicit" attendance requirements may also result from particular coursework or examinations described in the curriculum and examination plan (e.g. during practical sessions in laboratories) (for example, regular experiments, reports/records or tasks).
When a student is admitted to an examination, a legal relationship governed by public law is created between the student and the examinations office.
The examinations office operates as the state examinations authority. This is important if you wish to assert any objections and complaints about an examination decision; legal proceedings governed by public law are available arising from the public law legal relationship (administrative legal proceedings).
Students can complain about the assessment of their examination work with the examiner through the so-called procedure of reconsideration.
The student’s objections to the assessment must be submitted promptly and be as specific and comprehensible as possible (e.g. with literature references). It is not enough to maintain, for example, that the examiner was too strict or was biased. The examiner must respond to the candidate’s objections in a substantiated and specific manner and can accept or reject the objections.
Important information about the deadline rule
Because there is a one-month deadline for submitting an objection, a formal objection should be submitted for any complaints about an examination decision, even if the procedure of reconsideration has been adopted first. The procedure of reconsideration does not have any delaying effect on the objection deadline. If the reconsideration process does not produce the success that is desired, the objection deadline may have expired and this bars the path to taking any administrative legal proceedings. If the reconsideration process is successful, the objection may be withdrawn.
Each student has the opportunity to take legal action against any decisions made by the examining board (e.g. the examination reports) by making use of the administrative legal system. Before any legal proceedings are initiated at the administrative court, the system envisages so-called preliminary proceedings – the objection proceedings.
Objection proceedings mean that the examination decision is checked once again by the examining body to see whether it is correct and appropriate. The objection can only be submitted within a deadline of one month after the announcement of the examination report, provided that the report contains instructions about appropriate legal remedies.
If there are no instructions about any legal remedies (often in “encouraging” reports like the announcement of a grade), the objection period lasts one year. The objection must be submitted in writing or taken down in writing by the responsible examining board. Once the objection has been submitted, the examining board can either redress it or pass it on to the President at the University of Kassel. The President as the reviewing authority then issues an objection report. It is possible to take legal proceedings against the objection report at an administrative court.
Because of the one-month objection deadline, an appointment to inspect the examination files should be applied for as early as possible and within this deadline in the case of all complaints and objections against an examination decision.
It is normally possible to lodge legal proceedings against an objection report at the responsible administrative court.
There is normally a deadline of one month after the announcement of the objection report for lodging any legal proceedings. The administrative court regulations contain more detailed rules, e.g. on the types of lawsuits.
Not normally. It is normally impossible to make your grade worse. If a piece of work is checked again/reassessed, the examiner must make use of the same assessment criteria (if they have not been objected to) as during the initial assessment.
In principle, a candidate does not risk receiving a worse assessment by challenging any assessment. However, the ban on making the grade worse does not apply, for example, if the examination is taken again and therefore reassessed.
Unintentional plagiarism is often caused by a lack of knowledge about academic ways of working. In order to prevent any unintentional cases of plagiarism, students should therefore familiarise themselves with the academic working techniques in their subject. Various units of instruction (e.g. tutorials, exercises, etc.) and materials are made available for this in the faculties. In cases of doubt, quotations rules etc. should be discussed with the examiner at an early stage.
Generally, plagiarism is understood to be the complete or partial adoption of words, ideas or working results from an outside work without specifying this source. Even taking over any classification/structure or idea can be regarded as plagiarism. The precise definition of plagiarism, however, is sometimes difficult and also depends on the specialist discipline in question. The issue of how to handle “unintentional” plagiarism is a controversial matter too.
Basically, we believe plagiarism can be defined as follows (source: ETH Zurich):
- The author submits a work that has been written by another person to order (a “ghost writer”) using his or her name.
- The author submits somebody else’s work in his or her name (complete plagiarism).
- The author translates texts or parts of texts written in a foreign language and submits them as his or her own without citing the source (translation plagiarism).
- The author takes over parts of texts from somebody else’s work without citing the source with a quotation. This includes using parts of texts from the Internet without citing the source.
- The author takes over parts of texts from somebody else’s work and makes slight changes to the text or reconfigures it (paraphrasing) without referring to the source with a quotation.
- The author takes over parts of text from somebody else’s work, paraphrases them at best and quotes the relevant source, but not in the context of the part(s) of the text that has/have been taken over (for example: hiding the plagiarised source in a footnote at the end of the dissertation).
Reproducing so-called textbook knowledge (“basic knowledge, a general knowledge of which is assumed in the subject” [ETH]) without citing any source does not normally count as plagiarism, as long as the presentation of this textbook knowledge was not taken over from a different work.
Assessing the degree of seriousness
Sanctions against any attempts to cheat and commit plagiarism depend on the degree of seriousness of the infringement too. Any assessment of the degree of seriousness can always only take place on an individual basis and is subject to the discretionary powers of the examiner or the examining board/doctoral examining committee.
The assessment of the degree of seriousness depends on the quantitative and qualitative significance of the infringement. Plagiarism has already occurred formally if, for example, the indication of the source is missing for a sentence that has been taken over. The general conditions determine how seriously this infringement should be viewed: if this one sentence is deliberately singled out as the author’s own work and if the whole dissertation is founded on it or if there is a written declaration that the work has been completed by the person, the case is more serious than if the indication of the source has been forgotten due to carelessness in a dissertation that is otherwise excellent and there was no intention of cheating.
Sanctions for bachelors’ and masters’ degree courses
Plagiarism or an attempt at plagiarism/cheating or an attempt at cheating always creates a situation where the examination work in question is assessed as “unacceptable” (5.0) and has therefore been failed, according to Section 16 Para. 1 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. This also applies to any significant failure to take note of the quotation rules that apply in the faculties, according to Section 16 Para. 6. In cases that can be classified as insignificant, it is the responsibility of the examiner to include the infringement that has been found in the assessment. The examiner should definitely talk to the candidate about the shortcoming that has been found.
In a case of serious cheating or a repeated attempt at cheating in a module examination, a module partial examination, in a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree dissertation or in any work, to which a written declaration has been submitted that it has been completed independently, the examining board may also decide to exclude the candidate from the repeat examination, according to Section 16 Para. 3 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. As a result, the examination has been irrevocably failed. This normally means that it is impossible to continue the degree course and the student is removed from the register.
If cheating activities do not come to light until after the end of the course, the grade of the examination work can be corrected subsequently according to Section 16 Para. 1 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees – i.e. the examination work in question is subsequently assessed as “unacceptable” (5.0). This may also cause the candidate to lose the degree that has been gained (Section 31 Para. 1 and 3 of the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees).
Sanctions for teaching degrees and Diplom degree courses
The opportunities for sanctions in the case of teaching degrees and Diplom degree courses are fundamentally similar to the General Stipulations for Bachelors’/Masters’ Degrees. They are based on the relevant paragraphs on cheating attempts and breaches of rules in the individual examination regulations. According to them, attempted or actual cases of cheating are normally assessed as “insufficient” (teaching degree) or “unacceptable” (Diplom degree). Section 26 (Cheating Attempts, Breaches of Rules) of the Hesse Teacher Training Act in the version dated 27 June 2013 and Section 12 (Cheating Attempts, Breaches of Rules) in the Order Governing the Implementation of the Hesse Teacher Training Act in the version dated 7 February 2013 also apply to teaching degree courses.
Sanctions for theses
Section 17 of the General Stipulations for Doctoral Degrees at the University of Kassel in the version dated 16 July 2014 governs the sanctions procedure for any cases where a doctorate was gained through cheating. According to this, the doctoral degree should be revoked, if it was gained through cheating or if facts come to light that would have excluded its conferment.
If an infringement becomes apparent during the appraisal of the thesis, particularly against the rules listed in Section 5 of the General Stipulations for Doctoral Degrees (e.g. an infringement of the specific quotation rules or the declaration of having completed the thesis independently), the sanctions shall be applied as part of the appraisal and the assessment of the thesis.
Any plagiarism not only infringes the rules of good academic practice, but can also be classified as an infringement of copyright. According to this, anybody who duplicates, spreads or publicly reproduces a work or processes or reconfigures a work in any cases other than those that are legally permissible without the consent of the authorised party, is guilty of a criminal offence. This also includes processing parts of the work covered by the offence in Section 106 of the Copyright Act, which envisages a term of imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.
Rules for dealing with attempts at cheating and plagiarism at the University of Kassel:
- Hesse Higher Education Act (HHG), Section 18 Para. 4
- General Stipulations for Subject Examination Regulations for Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees at the University of Kassel, Sections 16 and 31
- General Stipulations for Doctoral Degrees at the University of Kassel, Sections 5 and 17
- Principles for Safeguarding Good Academic Practice at the University of Kassel
- Principles of Good Academic Practice when Writing Academic Dissertations/Theses at the University of Kassel dated 4 June 2014
Helpful links and sources used:
- HTW Berlin (Information and links related to the topic of plagiarism)
- LMU München(Handling Plagiarism. Guidelines for Teachers and Students)
You can download the individual handouts with questions and answers related to examinations and examination regulations as PDF files here: