Common Course Guide

Grading Schema

The distribution of grades, as well as any grading standards or rubrics, will be indicated in the Assessment Guide, Study Guide or other course documentation for each course. Your course grade will be aggregated based on the marks you achieve in your assessments, according to the formula provided in these course materials.

Passing Criteria for 12-credit B.Th. and B.Th. Hons. Courses

To pass an above type of course, you must fulfil all of the following criteria: 

  • You must participate in all major assessments. A major assessment is any assessment activity that counts 20% or more to the final course grade. Failure to participate in such an assessment activity means that you may not pass the course. 
  • Your course grade must be at least 50%. 
  • Though only 50% is considered a passing grade on an exam, you fail the course if you obtain a score of lower than 40% in an exam, even if your course grade is 50% or above. 

For further clarification, you fail any of the above courses by: 

  • not obtaining an overall grade of 50% or more. 
  • not obtaining a final exam score of 40% or more. 
  • not participating in any major assessment activity, that is, any assessment activity that counts 20% or more towards the final grade. 

Please note this warning

  • By stipulating which assessments may be considered "major assessments," we do not wish to communicate that any assessment is not compulsory. All assessments are compulsory and most affect the final course grade. Furthermore, if you choose to skip an assessment, which may count less than 20% of the final course grade, please note that you are doing so at your own risk. There are cases in which minor assessments need to be completed before you may have access to further sections of the course or other major assessments. If you skip them nonchalantly, you may be placed in a position in which you fail the course, either because you no longer have access to another assessment type or because you didn't achieve a high enough final grade for the course. 

Passing Criteria for 6-month, 24-credit B.Th. Hons. Courses

To pass an above type of course, you must fulfil all of the following criteria: 

  • You must pass each assessment activity, other than the final exam, with 50% or more. 
  • You must obtain an overall course grade of 50% or more. 
  • Though only 50% is considered a passing grade on an exam, you fail the course if you obtain a score of lower than 40% in an exam, even if your course grade is 50% or above. 


  • In undergraduate courses, a course grade of 80–100 per cent is classified as a distinction.
  • In postgraduate courses, a course grade of 75-100 per cent is classified as a distinction.

Late Submissions and Resubmissions

  • The penalty for late essay assignments is a standard 10% per day. For example, if your grade, based on the quality of your work, is 70% and the assignment is a day late, your grade is 60%. Late assignments are accepted up to 3 days from the submission date. 
  • If you need an extension, you may contact the Registrar for one. Please be aware that extensions are only granted in serious cases, specifically, in the case of the death of a close relative or serious illness. 
  • Most activities on MySATS do not allow you to submit late, e.g., quizzes, examinations, surveys, etc. If you missed the activity, the only way to still do it would be to contact the registrar for an extension. 
  • The peer-review activity does allow for a late submission, but the penalty may be very heavy as you may not be able to grade your classmates. Thus, you may lose 20% for not participating in peer-assessment (this is not a penalty, it's marks lost for work not done) and you may still be penalized the standard 10% a day for being late. 
  • Late submissions for forum discussions are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Registrar. If you miss a forum discussion which should have taken place in the week, for which students reply to one another, then you may have to re-take the course in order to participate as you should. 

Bottom line: You can avoid many problems by taking responsibility for your own learning by doing and submitting your activities early, as you are expected to do as an adult student and as "one who rules his own house well" (1 Tim. 3:4, NKJV)


Plagiarism (which encompasses all forms of academic cheating) is a serious ethical offence. SATS has a zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism. Please note the following points:

  • All written work must be 100% free from plagiarism. Plagiarism is described and discussed in detail in Kevin Smith's Academic Writing and Theological Research, which is available in the Information Kiosk. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that their work is free from plagiarism. As such, we do not consider ignorance to be a valid excuse for plagiarism. 
  • SATS makes use of plagiarism detection software which scans all submissions on MySats and alerts the course facilitator to instances of suspected plagiarism. Note that a high Turnitin Similarity Index (SI) doesn't necessarily constitute plagiarism, nor does a low SI mean that no plagiarism has taken place. The SI score and highlights are tools, used by the student and faculty to investigate whether plagiarism may have taken place. As a general rule, try to ensure that your written work has an SI of below 30%. It is entirely possible to have an SI as low as 10% if you conform to what is advised in the Content and Argumentation section below.
  • If you are caught plagiarizing, you will fail the course and you will need to pay to take it again. If it is the first offence, you will receive a final warning, and any subsequent offence may result in expulsion from SATS.

Exam Invigilation

Closed-book exams require the student to organize for an invigilator to be present. Please click on the blue invigilator button, which will be on your course if the exam is to be invigilated, for detailed feedback on what this entails. Please note that an invigilator must be older than 21 and may not be a SATS student or family member. 

Negative Marking

Unless stated otherwise, all exams and quizzes that are not in adaptive mode use negative marking. Click on the relevant links in the text for more information. 

Assignment Assessment Criteria

Technical Requirements  
  • A cover page that displays all the information mentioned in Smith’s Academic Writing and Theological Research (2008:83). 
  • A title, both on the cover page and on the first page of the assignment.  
  • A table of contents, if the assignment is above 1500 words unless otherwise stated in the assignment instructions.  
  • An introduction and a conclusion, unless otherwise stated in the assignment instructions. Specific requirements are described in the rubric.  
  • Headings that are appropriate to the nature of the paper.  

Content and Argumentation 

  • Assignments must thoroughly interact with the prescribed material as the primary sources of information. Extra research is not required at first-year level, commendable and credited at second-year and, finally, expected at third-year and beyond, especially if one hopes for a distinction. Extra research should emanate from recent, scholarly works and, ideally, should bring ideas into the discussion that are not in the required reading. (Scholarly works would generally mean people with a Master’s or PhD in Theology.)
  • Academic sources can be used with different levels of competence. At the novice level, the student simply quotes the source as the authority. However, stringing a series of quotes together is an inadequate form of writing, since it does not demonstrate understanding. At the intermediate level, the student uses the source; he does not quote it, but puts it in his own words and interacts with it. At the advanced level, the student critically compares and evaluates multiple sources and motivates his personal conclusions. In his/her assignments, a student should never just quote sources (novice level); he should put them in his own words, interact with them (intermediate level) and critically evaluate them (advanced level).
  • Avoid including lengthy quotations from Scripture. It is best to provide the Scripture reference and summarize the passage, its interpretation as appropriate, as well as how it relates to the topic, in your own words. Thus, your engagement with Scripture should be that you interact with it (intermediate level) and critically evaluate ideas according to it (advanced level), not that you merely copy it without noting what it means or how it applies to the topic (novice level)[1].

Writing and Formatting 

  • An assignment should be written in simple, clear and direct sentences. 
  • The assignment should adhere to these formatting requirements: 
    • The text should be black, Arial, size 12 and must have 1.5 line spacing.  
    • Headings and titles should be clear and neatly numbered.  
  • An assignment must be between 10% above and 10% below the prescribed word count. So, if the prescribed word count is 2000 words, it may be between 1800 and 2200 words. Word count excludes the cover page, table of contents and bibliography.  
  • Assignments should be proofread, spell-checked and edited. If English is not your first language, use the appropriate language tools available, such as the spell-checker on your word processor and software such as  


  • An assignment must be completely free of plagiarism and, as such, all sources must be credited.  
  • SATS requires that you credit your sources using any recognized author-date, in-text citation style, such as Chicago, Harvard, SBL or the style in Smith’s Academic Writing and Theological Research. Thus, minor variations of formatting of in-text citations or bibliographical entries are not important. What is important is that the paper credits the author for their work, does so consistently and does so in a way that makes the information traceable.
  • While some author-date referencing systems do not explicitly require a page number, we do require them when they are available. If the resource does not have page numbers, DO NOT cite the Reader's page numbers. 
  • Repeated citations in the same paragraph need only to indicate a page number. Page 51 of Smith’s Academic Writing and Theological Research contains an example of how this can be done.  
  • All direct quotes need to be wrapped in quotation marks.
  • An assignment end with a bibliography titled “works cited,” which contains complete bibliographical entries for every resource for which there is an in-text citation in the text of the assignment. Bibliographical entries should be legibly and consistently formatted and should include all the commonly required information necessary to trace the source of the information.

[1] Our view of the Bible—we hold to the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible. As a consequence, we hold the classical evangelical view on the inerrancy of scripture: the scriptures are fully truthful and trustworthy in all that they teach. Having said that, we base our convictions for belief and practice on what we extract from Scripture by careful exegesis—meaning that interpretation needs to be carefully extracted so that we get to the actual authorial meaning of the text instead of reading our own foreign meaning into it. 

Last modified: Tuesday, 21 January 2020, 8:41 AM