UCL News


UCL takes action to reduce the impact of coronavirus on 2020-21 exams and assessments

27 January 2021

UCL confirms that a ‘no detriment’ package is being developed to support your progression and graduation, while protecting the value of your degree.


UCL is working with Student’s Union UCL to adjust examination and assessment arrangements for 2020-21 to make sure our students are not disadvantaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

We can now confirm that a ‘no detriment’ package is being developed to support your progression and graduation, while protecting the value of your degree. Please note this is an interim update and we are working on further additional measures that will be announced next week.

The new COVID-19 measures respond to the serious concerns of our students about the impact of the ongoing pandemic on your learning. These measures complement the adjustments that UCL departments have made to every aspect of your education in response to the coronavirus pandemic. All of your teaching and assessments have been designed to recognise that you are working remotely, or might not have access to normal facilities, or will not be able to sit in physical examination halls

We are beginning to implement the principles that were shared on 18 January 2021 and these elements are explained below.

However, some ‘no detriment’ measures require further development and ratification through UCL’s formal governance process. We will communicate these to students and staff as quickly as we can. 

We will only assess you on what you have been taught

  • Departments have adjusted all of your course content and assessments to ensure that they are adapted to online learning. We will keep this under continuous review to make sure that you aren’t assessed on material that you haven’t covered e.g. if you cannot access a specialist archive, collection or laboratory, the assessment will be adjusted.

  • This might include changing exam questions, marking criteria, learning outcomes or marking rubrics. In some cases the method of assessment itself might be changed e.g. an exam might be converted to coursework.

  • Departments might also adjust coursework deadlines to give you more time to complete the work.

  • Your department will let you know about any further changes to your individual assessments.

You can self-certify for Extenuating Circumstances on more occasions:

  • You can now self-certify for up to 14 calendar days on three separate occasions.  The third occasion is reserved for assessments submitted in Term 3 and cannot be used in Terms 1 or 2.

  • If your programme includes teaching after Term 3 (eg. Taught Postgraduate Masters students) you can also self-certify for up to 14 calendar days on a fourth separate occasion. The fourth occasion is reserved for assessments submitted after Term 3 and cannot be used earlier.

  • If you run out of self-certifications, you can still apply for Extenuating Circumstances but we will ask you to provide some evidence, e.g. from your doctor. However if you can’t provide evidence – for example because you are having to self-isolate - please get in touch with your Department for advice.

You will have extra time in all exams:

  • All exams are now open-book assessments. The default duration is 24 hours (written exams are usually between one and three hours long). This extra time is designed to help you manage your assessment in a way that works for you, allowing for time-zone differences, examination adjustments, childcare, work commitments, internet connection difficulties or any other circumstances which might make it harder for you to study.

  • Some exams are shorter e.g. three hours. These exams will include an additional 1-hour upload window at the end in case you experience any problems (so if your exam is scheduled for three hours, you will have four hours in which to submit).

  • Even with this extra time we understand that you might experience technical issues in an exam. If you are not able to submit within the upload window, you can apply to defer the exam to the Late Summer using the Exam Query Form – you do not need to put in a claim for Extenuating Circumstances. We will ask you to provide some screenshots/ photos etc. so that we can understand the problem.

  • Some departments are running ‘take home papers’ where you will be given a longer window such as 48 hours or 72 hours to complete the assessment. These are managed by departments and fall under the regulations for coursework i.e. the normal Extenuating Circumstances and Late Submission rules apply.

UCL will not charge resit fees

  • Unlike many universities, UCL does not charge resit fees. We will continue to allow students a second in-year attempt without any additional costs. Make sure you check the regulations around resits for full details about second attempts e.g. some students may be required to repeat modules next year, and there are usually fees for repeat tuition.

Further information about ‘no detriment’ package will be shared by 5 February, followed later by information from your department about what it means for you and your programme.