Information for students on the modified assessment policies. 

Dear students,

Principles and policies for modified assessment 

The coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty to us all, as students and employees, as members of families and communities and as global citizens. I am well aware that students are particularly concerned about the prospect of sitting examinations and completing other assessments next term. It is important that the University provides clarity on this as soon as possible, which is what I seek to do now. I set out below the University’s principles and policies as to how we will conduct assessments next term. This information is also available online at cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/students. Your Faculty or Department will be contacting you over the next few days to provide you with the details of your method of assessment for your course.

These principles and policies have been developed in consultation with colleagues across the University, and have been discussed and agreed with student representatives. We have sought to take into account the wide-ranging views expressed to us by many students. I wish to record my heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed. What we have sought to do throughout is to ensure that the methods of assessment which we adopt are rigorous, fair and have regard to the health and wellbeing of all our students, as well as our staff.

As we have all learned recently, situations can change very quickly. It may be that we have to adapt our approach to respond to events as they unfold. If this happens, we will communicate these changes as openly and as promptly as we can.

This really is the most extraordinary time and there are no precedents on which we can rely. We know that different people will be affected in very different ways over the next few months, not only by the trajectory and impact of the pandemic but by the circumstances in which our students are studying, living and caring. We will always do our best to help and to support you. 

You can find information about supporting your wellbeing at the following webpage: https://www.studentwellbeing.admin.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus. If you have specific concerns relating to your studies, please contact your Director of Studies, Tutor, Senior Tutor or course director.

I send you my very best wishes,

Graham

Professor Graham Virgo

Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)

 

Assessment Principles and Policies (Easter term 2020)

  1. There is an expectation that all students will be required to continue studying during Easter term, assuming good health and no significant caring commitments, either in preparation for the alternative summative assessments which replace examinations in Cambridge, or engaging in formative assessment where the Faculty or Department has chosen this as the alternative assessment method.
     
  2. To ensure fairness, all students enrolled for the same paper will be required to undergo the same method of assessment. Exceptions will be made if necessary for students requiring alternative modes of assessments on medical or disability grounds.

First and second year undergraduate students

  1. First and second year undergraduate students will undertake modified assessments. However, no first- or second-year undergraduate assessment will be classed. Many of the modified assessments which have been approved will be formative, meaning that students must undertake the assessment and will get feedback on it, but they will have no recorded marks on their University transcript. Some Faculties and Departments have required their modified assessment to be summative, which will mean that students will get a mark for their work and this will appear on their transcript, but, because of the extraordinary circumstances in which the assessment is taken, no class will be awarded.
     
  2. If first- or second-year undergraduate students are unable to take their modified assessment at the scheduled time in the Easter term, (for example for reasons of illness, caring responsibilities or technical difficulties), the following will happen:
     
    1. if the assessment is a formative or summative piece of coursework (e.g. an extended essay), the student can receive an extension to the deadline for submission of their work;
       
    2. if the assessment is an online assessment, the student will have an opportunity to take it during a second assessment period, on a date to be determined once the University is fully operational again. The assessments in the second period will be delivered in the same way as those delivered in Easter term. 

      Students who are unable to take any assessment either in the first or second assessment period, or only some of the assessment, will need to apply for consideration by the Examination Access and Mitigation Committee (EAMC) for the award of an examination allowance that would allow them to proceed to the next year.

Finalist undergraduate students and students on integrated Master’s programmes​

  1. All final year undergraduate students and fourth year students on integrated Master’s programmes will have the opportunity to receive a classed degree. Most third year students on integrated Master’s programmes will have the opportunity to receive a classed degree via the alternative assessments proposed, if it is necessary for their progression to the fourth year of study or if they intend to graduate after their third year.
     
  2. The University will provide a ‘safety net’ for final year undergraduates. This will not apply to students on the fourth year of an integrated Master’s programme. The ‘safety net’ means that, as long as a graduating undergraduate student passes their assessments, no graduating undergraduate student will receive a class lower than the class which they were awarded in their second year exams. The 2020 assessments will therefore only confirm the class awarded in their second year or improve it. All students are required to take their 2020 alternative assessments and will be expected to pass (either in the main assessment period or the second assessment period as appropriate). They will be assessed and will get marks for each component of their assessment, which will appear on their transcript. A class will then be determined by the Examiners on the basis of the marks achieved, except where this results in a class lower than the class previously awarded in their second year, in which case that class will be recorded on their transcript. Any student who was not awarded a class in their second year but was allowed to progress, will be classed only on the basis of their achievement in the 2020 assessments. This replicates normal practice.
     
  3. Students who are unable to participate in the assessment in Easter term for reasons such as ill health, significant caring commitments, technical difficulties or similar disruption, will be given an opportunity to take the same method of assessment in a second assessment period when the University is back in full operation. Students may not re-sit the assessment in the second assessment period if they were able to sit it in the first period. Students will be permitted to self-certify illness and caring commitments and similar disruptions. 
     
  4. Students who are eligible to be classed but who are unable to take any assessment either in the first or second assessment period, or only some of the assessment, or students who are otherwise affected by serious medical or other grave cause will be considered by either the Examination Access and Mitigation Committee (EAMC) for an alternative examination allowance, for example a ‘DDH’ (Deemed to Deserve Honours) class, or will be classed on the marks received from a subset of the assessment that has taken place.

Postgraduate taught students

  1. Postgraduate Taught Students (e.g. MPhil, MBA, LLM and MST) will be given the opportunity to receive a classed degree via the alternative assessments which have been approved.
     
  2. Students who are unable to participate in the assessment in Easter term for reasons such as ill health, significant caring commitments, technical difficulties or similar disruption, will be given an opportunity to take the same method of assessment in a second assessment period when the University is back in full operation. Students may not re-sit the assessment in the second assessment period if they were able to sit it in the first period. Students will be permitted to self-certify illness and caring commitments and similar disruptions.
     
  3. Students who are eligible to be classed but who are unable to take any assessment either in the first or second assessment period, or only some of the assessment, or students who are otherwise affected by serious medical or other grave cause will be considered by either the Examination Access and Mitigation Committee (EAMC) or Board of Graduate Studies (BGS) for an alternative examination allowance, for example a ‘DDH’ (Deemed to Deserve Honours) class, or will be classed on the marks received from a subset of the assessment that has taken place.

Disabled students

  1. The modified assessments should not disadvantage disabled students. It is anticipated that the nature of the modified assessments will be inclusive, meaning that in many cases the examination access adjustments (such as extra time, rest breaks or use of a computer) will naturally apply. Once a student has received their assessment plan and timetable, they should discuss the need for any new examination access adjustment, or adjustments to existing arrangements, with their College.