This information applies to undergraduate students and postgraduate students on taught courses.
The University recognises the impact that the ongoing pandemic and lockdown are having on students’ ability to access the resources needed to complete their work, as well as their ability to engage with their studies. We are committed to ensuring that students’ academic performance will be assessed fairly and that disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic will be taken into account.
Following consultation, including with student representatives, the University has agreed the following package of assessment mitigation measures which will operate as a safety net to safeguard student achievements from the impacts of the pandemic.
1. Cohort equity
Examiners in each subject will ensure that the distribution of classes for this year is no less favourable than the average class distribution for the last three years before the pandemic (2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019). This means that the proportion of firsts, 2:1s, 2:2s and thirds awarded should be broadly in line with the proportions awarded during those years. Data for 2019/20 will not be used because marks for last year might not necessarily provide a useful comparison given the emergency changes to assessment methods and reduced numbers of papers taken by students.
Faculties and Departments will determine how to achieve cohort equity for each course as appropriate, informed by discussions with student representatives. This flexibility is necessary due to the wide range of classification conventions and the differing sizes of cohorts.
Cohort equity will not be possible for new programmes, for courses in which there have been substantial changes to the course, or for joint courses.
2. Automatic progression to subsequent year of study for first and second year Tripos students
All first and second year undergraduate students who take the full assessment will automatically progress to their next year of study. Where this is relevant, students will need to pass any professional examinations in the usual time frames.
In the case that a student’s performance gives significant cause for concern (for example, if a student does not pass one or more of their assessments), their College will review with the student what additional support is needed to ensure that they are able to succeed in next year’s study.
3. Impact statement
If the lockdown has been detrimental to a student’s research through, for example, limiting their access to study materials and key texts, to fieldwork opportunities or to laboratory facilities, they may submit a statement alongside a dissertation, project or coursework which will be taken into account by examiners. This statement should refer only to the impact of the pandemic on a student’s ability to access resources. Statements about personal circumstances or mental health issues can be made through the individual mitigation measures outlined below. Access the form here.
4. Coursework extensions
Faculties and Departments can make appropriate arrangements for individual or cohort coursework extensions for up to 14 days. Students will not be expected to provide medical evidence for applications for such extensions.
5. Changes to examination or coursework requirements
Faculties and Departments will consider, in consultation with student representatives, whether particular changes to examination or coursework requirements should be made. The following might be considered:
- Permitting changes to dissertation titles, to the expected structure and/or content of a dissertation, or the option to replace a dissertation with extended essays, where access to necessary research materials is no longer possible.
- Increasing the choice of optional questions in an exam, or reducing the number of questions students are required to answer in an examination.
- Reducing the number of required supervisions for essays or other coursework.
- Excluding the lowest mark achieved for an element of assessment by each student from the calculation of the class for that student (where the number of papers allows for this to be done without compromising learning outcomes).
- Making an element of assessment pass/fail for the whole cohort, so a mark does not contribute to a student’s class.
- Changing the length of an exam (e.g moving from 6 hour to 24 hour exams).
- Moving from exams to coursework.
- For first and second year students, moving to an honours pass/fail system rather than providing a class mark. Assessments would still be summative, and marks would be included on the transcript
Any decisions on changes to examinations and assessments will be communicated by Faculties and Departments as soon as possible and by the end of Term at the latest.
6. Individual mitigation measures
Existing mitigation measures are available to individual students who experience very significant disadvantage in their preparation for and participation in exams, and who consider that their performance in examinations or coursework has been adversely affected by the pandemic. These include examination warnings, which notify examiners where a candidate is suffering from unexpected illness or whose performance is affected by an unexpected event, and applications for exam allowances where a student feels the outcome of an examination or assessment was not representative of their abilities. Further guidance is available here.