This section contains archival information that applied to assessment in the academic year 2019-20.

General assessment guidance

The University has put into place alternative arrangements for the Easter Term 2020 examination period.

All assessment during Easter Term 2020 will now be carried our remotely and will replace the usual examinations in Cambridge. For those that are unable to take their assessment during Easter Term 2020, there will be a second assessment period when the University is fully operational again.

Due to the changes, there may be signification modifications to the format and mode of your assessment. However, Faculties and Departments have ensured that no additional teaching will be required to take the alternative assessments.

The timetable for all students is now available.

Purpose of alternative assessment

The University has determined that the academic rigour of all Cambridge degrees should be maintained during the coronavirus outbreak.  This is in-keeping with the requirements of the University’s registration with the Office for Students (OfS), which includes the need to ‘ensure that qualifications awarded to students hold their value at the point of qualification and over time, in line with sector-recognised standards’. Accordingly, we will continue to hold assessments in the Easter Term 2020.

The purpose of the alternative assessments is to enable students to demonstrate what they have learned, and that they have met their programme’s learning outcomes as far as possible under the current restrictions.

Principles of alternative assessment

All alternative means of assessment have been reviewed and are robust, fair and inclusive to all students.

To ensure fairness, all students enrolled for the same paper will be expected to take the same method of assessments. Exceptions can be made for students requiring alternative modes of assessments on medical or disability grounds.

While we acknowledge that there will be significant changes to the assessment process, we expect usual exam principles to be upheld.

We expect Faculties and Departments to keep to the normal principles of assessment, such as using:

  • standardised papers
  • consistent and robust marking criteria
  • External Examiners
  • plagiarism detection software to detect misconduct
  • online vivas for some students

Likewise, we expect students to:

  • create and submit their own work for all assessment
  • stick to time limits imposed

The University prohibits any form of cheating or attempts to cheat. If we find that you have engaged in any form of cheating the penalties are significant.

For more information on please visit:

Student discipline regulations >

Taking the assessment

The format of your alternative assessment will be communicated to you via your Department or Faculty.

In most cases, online assessments will take place over an extended time window (for example, 24 hours). This is to allow for:

  • students living in different time zones
  • students who are permitted extra time and/or rest breaks due to disability
  • any technical difficulties that students may encounter

Your examiners will advise you on how long you should spend on the assessment. Even if you are given a 24-hour window within which to sit the exam, it will be generally expected that you do not work more than the usual length of a Cambridge examination.

Some examinations may need to be taken in a shorter time window. If this means that you are in time zones that require you to take the assessment outside of normal working hours, you should take appropriate steps to manage your time so that you are rested and fully operational at the time of their assessment, and to avoid fatigue.

Whilst every effort will be made to avoid assessments in consecutive 24-hour windows, we cannot guarantee this for every student. Consecutive online assessments will not be accepted as a reason for an extension in submitting work.

Ranking and class-lists

Students will not be ranked this year but you will be able to see all the marks awarded.

Class-lists will not be posted publicly outside Senate House or in The Reporter for the 2019/2020 academic year.

Students with examination arrangements due to disability

No student should be disadvantaged by the alternative assessment methods. We will ensure that alternative methods of assessment take account of a range of reasonable adjustments.

For many students, the move to alternative assessments will negate the need for many specific exam arrangements such as additional time, permission to use a computer and rest breaks.

Where you have access to examination arrangements that involve access to assistive technology, for example screen readers or magnification tools, the University will contact you via your College to find out if you need any further support.

If you have any concerns regarding examination arrangements, you should contact you College Tutor.

Coursework extensions

You can seek an extension from your Faculty and Department via your College Tutor or Director of Studies. If approved, that extension should not extend into the next academic year. The results of such coursework would be considered by the same Exam/progression boards as originally anticipated.

Laboratory-based projects

Laboratory-based projects will be reframed to account for the inability to have physical access to the laboratory. Extensions might be granted but would not extend into the next academic year.

Professional body requirements

Faculties and Departments are working closely with their professional, statutory, regulatory and accrediting bodies (PSRBs) to ensure that students can meet the requirements of the relevant PSRB. If exams are required in a standard format we will schedule these when the University is fully operational again. Further information, when it becomes available, will be provided by your Faculty or Department.

What if I am unable to take assessments in Easter Term 2020?

We expect that most students will take their assessments in the normal period in Easter Term 2020. However, the University recognises that there may be legitimate reasons why this might not be possible including:

  • Personal or family illness (COVID-19 or otherwise)
  • Caring responsibilities
  • No access to an internet connection or quiet working space
  • Technical difficulties during assessment
  • Clashes with religious observance created by the new assessment timetable
  • Other mitigating circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic

If you are experiencing difficulties with your studies during Easter Term 2020, you should first contact your College Tutor, College Director of Studies, or course director if you are on a postgraduate programme (via email or telephone) to discuss your situation.

If it is agreed that you cannot sit assessments in Easter Term 2020, you will be able to take your assessment in the later assessment period.

You cannot defer your assessments to next year under any circumstances.

For more specific guidance on this, please see the assessment section relevant to your cohort.

Further assessment guidance

Assessment principles and policies (Easter Term 2020)

Assessment: first- and second-year undergraduates (Easter 2020)

Assessment: Finalist undergraduate students and students on integrated Master’s programmes (Easter 2020)

Assessment: postgraduate taught students (MPhil, MBA, LLM and MST) (Easter 2020)