Assessment guidance for students
Where to find important information about assessment in 2020/21 if you are a student on a taught programme.
About this guide
The following information concerns the assessment of students on taught programmes of the University. Information on arrangements for 2020/21 is signposted where applicable.
Important assessment information
To prepare for your assessments and understand how you will be assessed, it is important that you familiarise yourself with some key resources:
Information on the University’s assessment regulations - Please also see your Programme Handbook for any specific regulations for your programme. Speak to your Director of Studies if you have any questions about this or if you are unsure what applies to you.
Your Department Feedback policy, which contains more information on how you will receive feedback on your assessed work - If you’re unsure where to find it, please ask your Director of Studies.
Our guide to Academic Appeals
Information on penalties for Academic Misconduct
The most up-to-date information on exams and other assessments in 2020/21 is signposted through our Exams and Assessments webpage.
Exam information and guidance 2020/21
In 2020/21 exams will be conducted online. Guidance on arrangements for these assessments, including exam schedules, academic integrity, accessing and submitting online exams, and dealing with technical issues, are signposted through our Exams and Assessments webpage.
For more information on the option to defer your exam under our 2020/21 “no-detriment” measures, see also our webpage on what to do if you need to defer your exam.
You can find information on the timing of the 2020/21 assessment periods in the University’s academic year charts. In the event of unavoidable disruption these dates may be subject to change.
If you think you might need alternative exam arrangements (for example, because of a disability), please seek advice from the Disability Service and inform your Director of Studies as early as possible.
Submission of coursework
To ensure all submissions are considered fairly, you will be expected to hand in all assessed coursework, dissertations and projects by a specified date and time.
If there are valid circumstances that prevent you from meeting a deadline, you might be able to get an extension. It is important that you speak to your Director of Studies as soon as possible if you think you may not be able to meet any of your submission deadlines.
For more information on the more flexible evidence requirements for arranging an extension under our 2020/21 “no-detriment” measures, see also our webpage on coursework extensions for 2020/21.
Please note that:
if you submit work more than five working days after the submission date, you will normally receive a mark of 0 (zero), unless you have been granted an extension
if you submit work up to and including five working days after the submission date, the maximum possible mark will be the pass mark, unless you have been granted an extension
if it is submitted after the deadline it might not be possible to mark your coursework anonymously
Coursework tasks will normally have a word limit or word range. This gives an indication of the depth and detail of work required and helps to ensure that students’ submitted work can be compared. If you don’t observe the word range or limit set for the coursework task (for example if you exceed the word limit) then a penalty will be applied.
The word range or limit will be confirmed when you receive an assignment, as well as any penalty that will apply if you don’t follow it. You should make sure you understand what is included when calculating the total word count (for example, whether or not contents pages, appendices, footnotes, bibliographies, and other elements that are not part of the main text, are included).
You'll be required to confirm the word count for your work when you submit it for assessment.
You should check with your Director of Studies if you have questions about word counts and penalties.
Mitigating circumstances that might affect your assessment
Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMCs) are the conditions which temporarily prevent you from undertaking assessment or significantly impair your performance in assessment. As such, the measure of their severity is not about impact on you, but the impact on your affected assessment.
Full information about IMCs is available online, including links to the guide “What are IMCs?” and an IMCs Summary for Students which gives more information about the procedure for submitting an IMC report form. This is also where you’ll find the most-up-to-date information about IMCs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is strongly advised that you become familiar with the available guidance so that you understand the process and timescales should such circumstances arise, including who to speak to if you know of a potential IMC that may affect your assessment. Sources of further IMC support and guidance are also signposted online.
Assessment and marking processes at the University are designed to ensure that assessment of your work is fair and consistent, and that academic standards are appropriate and comparable between the University and other higher education institutions.
This is achieved in several ways, including:
Use of assessment criteria, marking schemes and grade descriptors for marking
Use of anonymous marking, where practicable
Moderation of assessment questions and of marking (a process of independent checking)
Through formal bodies responsible for assessment decision-making at the University: Boards of Examiners for Units, Boards of Examiners for Programmes, and Boards of Studies.
The assessment marks you are given initially by markers are provisional up until the point that they have been confirmed by the Board of Studies for your programme.
Scaling is an adjustment of unit marks that may be used in certain circumstances. There is more information online about what scaling is, and why and how it is used.
External Examiners have an important role in assuring that academic standards are appropriate and assessment processes are fair.
review draft assessment questions and samples of assessed work
participate in Boards of Examiners’ decision-making
give independent feedback and advice throughout the year
submit an annual written report on the programme(s) they are appointed to
At least one External Examiner is appointed for each taught programme or group of programmes at the University and will be someone from another university or professional organisation who is qualified and experienced in the relevant field of study.
External Examiner annual reports, and departmental responses to those reports, are made available to students and are discussed by Staff/Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs).
Students can engage with the process through which the University considers and responds to External Examiners’ comments and suggestions through the University’s student representation mechanisms. However, it’s not appropriate for individual students to make direct contact with External Examiners.
If you are dissatisfied with the process or outcome of an assessment, and are considering whether to raise this either informally or formally, please familiarise yourself with the University’s procedures for student complaints and academic appeals.
Understanding your results
Information on how results are considered by Boards of Examiners in 2020/21 will be published online and will be signposted from this webpage.
If you fail a unit you may need to do ‘supplementary assessment’ before starting the next stage of your programme. This might involve re-doing coursework or re-sitting an exam. Each unit’s method of supplementary assessment is shown in the online Unit Catalogue.
If you have to do supplementary assessments, you will normally take them during the summer (August). You can find information on the 2020/21 supplementary assessment period in the University’s academic year charts.
In the event of unavoidable disruption due to COVID-19 these dates may be subject to change.