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Exceptional amendments to Academic Regulations for 2020 assessments

Academic standards protected while supporting the progression and graduation of as many of our students as possible and timetable revised for exchange of marks and Exam Board decisions.

Updated: 22 June 2020
In all our work to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak on UCL education, our priority is to ensure that as many students as possible can progress through their studies and/or graduate at the end of this academic year, without compromising academic standards.The Exams and Assessments Contingency Panel has agreed a number of proposed temporary amendments to the Academic Regulations in support of this principle.

Deferrals

Normally, UCL’s default position for ECs or Material irregularity is a deferral to the next possible occasion. However, in current circumstances it may be impossible to deliver invigilated examination in the Late Summer as usual. It is therefore recommended that in all EC or Material Irregularity cases, component exclusion followed by alternative method of assessment are considered before deferral.

Many students returned home before UCL decided to cancel face to face teaching and assessment. In such circumstances, where assessments were missed, the material irregularity procedure should be followed. First consideration should be either an alternative method of assessment that can be submitted online or component exclusion, subject to Faculty discretion. If neither of these is possible the assessment should be deferred.

Extenuating Circumstances

The EC procedures are being relaxed and evidence requirements have been suspended for the remainder of the academic year.  Further guidance covering deadlines, late claims, evidence requirements, duration of extensions and number of claims has been agreed and can be found in the Academic Manual, Chapter 4.

Panels are expected to be lenient and flexible in applying the extraordinary EC procedures, which are intended to apply in circumstances that are ‘sudden, disruptive and outside the student’s control.’ Where assessments for PGT students are deferred into the LSA period Panels should also consider an extension to their dissertation submission deadline.

Covid-19 Academic Misconduct Changes

UCL has agreed a number of changes and clarifications, including an expedited Academic Misconduct process, for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. Find out the full details in Chapter 6 of the Academic Manual.

Academic Misconduct Panels may be held remotely,  Any first year students who have previously been required to resubmit work under the poor academic practice procedure, need not be required to do so, provided they are informed of the importance of good academic practice, provided with support and the academic referencing of future work is monitored.

'No detriment'

Most notably, the amendments follow a ‘no detriment’ approach that has been adopted by other Russell Group universities and ensures that no student will be academically disadvantaged by the current extraordinary circumstances and the alternative assessment and teaching that we have introduced. The basic approach for ‘no detriment’ is to use only the best 50% of the 2019/20 credits for classification purposes, unless this would disadvantage the student. More details of how this applies in particular circumstances are given below.

Undergraduate finalists

The final classification average will be based on the higher outcome of:

a) Calculation with the final year mean based on the best 60 credits*; or

b) Calculation with the final year excluded.

*For integrated Masters programmes with a heavily-weighted dissertation module, the best 60 credits from any modules will be used to calculate the mean, which may include re-weighting the dissertation credit.

These principles will be adapted for classification schemes with variations that do not use a final year average. Detailed descriptions for each scheme will be sent to faculties soon. 

All final year modules will still appear on the transcript.

Late Summer Resits

The Late Summer Assessment period will be for deferred assessments only. See the Revised timetable for Exam Boards and associated activities for more information. 

Continuing undergraduates other than first years

Mitigation will be based on the same principle as for finalists. The weighted year mean for 2019/20 used in final classification will be based on the best 60 credits. Where a classification mean is used to determine progression on MSci and MEng programmes, the year mean for 2019/20 used in the classification will be based on the best 60 credits. For both final classification and for progression (where applicable), if the use of the best 60 credits does not provide adequate mitigation (i.e. results in a lower outcome than excluding the year), 2019/20 results will be excluded (weighted at 0).

Returning undergraduate students

For undergraduate students returning from interruption or returning to take assessments deferred from last year, the best 50% of credits undertaken in 2019/20 will be used in the calculation of the year average used for classification purposes.  

Where assessment in 2019/20 relates to one module worth 15 credits or fewer (i.e. all other assessment for the year of study has previously been completed, the module mark may be discounted in the year average for classification purposes if this results in a higher average mark. 

Taught Masters (postgraduate taught) finalists

Students must pass or be condoned in all credits as usual, but the final classification will be based on the best 90 credits. This may include any 90 credits, whether from taught modules or the dissertation. Where necessary, a module's credit can be split to make up the total. All modules will appear on the transcript.

These arrangements apply to other programmes as follows: 

  • Graduate Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma: classification will be based on the best 60 of the 120 credits
  • Graduate Certificate and Postgraduate Certificate: classification will be based on the best 30 of the 60 credits.
  • Masters programmes of greater than 1 calendar year duration: for students completing in 2019-20, modules taken in 2018/19 will have been unaffected.  For continuing students, any impact on 2020/21 is as yet unknown. It is therefore proposed that mitigation is applied to the current year so that the highest 50% of the credits taken in 2019/20 count towards classification (unless this would disadvantage the student).  Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue into next academic year, further mitigation for credits taken in 2020/21 may need to be considered.

Part-time students

The same principle as above applies to part-time students, with only the best 50% of credits taken in 2019/20 being used for classification purposes (unless this would disadvantage the student).

Flexible (and returning students)

For flexible students and students returning from interruption or with deferred assessments from last year, the best 50% of credits taken in 2019/20 will be used at the point of classification where this results in a higher classification than using all credits.Where assessment in 2019/20 relates to one module worth 15 credits or fewer the module mark may be discounted for classification purposes if this results in a higher average mark.

Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

Students will be given an uncapped reassessment opportunity for any failed assessments taken in spring term onwards.

The separate requirement for a threshold mark in the dissertation to quality for Merit or Distinction will be removed and the time permitted to complete dissertations has been extended.

Late Summer Assessments

Given that the exam period has been extended and consequently the exchange of marks and exam board dates are delayed further, it has been agreed that the Late Summer Assessment period will be for deferred assessments only. Proposals to adjust the progression and condonement regulations in the light of this have been approved. See the Revised Exam Board dates and the timeline of associated activities for details of reassessment for UG and PGT finalists.

MRes students

The separate requirement for 2019/20 MRes finalists to achieve a dissertation mark above a specified minimum in order to quality for Merit or Distinction will be removed.  For MRes programmes with progression to doctoral programmes part of a 1+3 arrangement, the programme Director/Departmental Graduate Tutor will consider the possibility of progression on a case-by-case basis if the progression threshold has not been met.

The rationale for the no-detriment policy for MRes programmes is that taught modules and their assessment will usually have taken place earlier in the academic year and therefore not been affected by lockdown in late March. Mitigation for these programmes therefore focused on the dissertation/research project, which is the most important part of an MRes. However, Faculty Boards of Examiners have authority to apply mitigation to any taught components assessed after March under the normal material irregularity policy. Students whose non-research modules have been affected by lockdown (i.e. there were assessment deadlines during lockdown) should contact their programme directors in the first instance.

Condonement

For 2019/20, modules that are currently non-condonable, (i.e. those that must be passed in order for a student to progress to the next stage) will be re-designated as condonable, unless evidence can be provided that the learning outcomes are specifically linked to PSRB requirements that cannot be met elsewhere across the entire programme. EACP has considered requests for modules to remain non-condonable for accreditation purposes and decisions will be communicated to Faculties shortly. 

Undergraduate progression

Under normal circumstances, students can be condoned in 30 credits per year and a maximum of 60 credits per programme. A student failing 45 or 60 credits in a year would normally go into the LSA period, and students failing more than 60 credits would need to repeat.

For 2019-20, the condonement criteria have been modified to allow condonement in 30 credits and up to 30 credits failed or deferred modules to be trailed into the following year of study provided the credit-weighted mean for the year is at least 40% (50% in the Masters year of an MSci or MEng) across all 120 credits. 

For programmes accredited by Professional Engineering Institutions the volume of permitted condonement is different owing to PSRB accreditation requirements, but the same principle of allowing condonement plus 30 credits trailed into the following year will apply. The default assumption is that the module with the lowest mark will be condoned, in order to give the student the best opportunity of passing the trailed module. Where this may not be in the best interest of the student, alternative arrangements may be considered via the Material Irregularity procedure.

In discussion with their tutors, students with trailing credits may choose not to progress provisionally this year and resit next year out of attendance rather than trailing the fail. 

Postgraduate Taught reassessment

Postgraduate taught finalists who fail their assessment will have an opportunity for reassessment.  For online timed assessments this will take place in January 2021 to align with existing dissertation reassessment deadlines.

More detailed guidance on reassessment processes and timescales has been provided by Student Records. See the Revised timetable for Exam Boards and associated activities, 2020.
Continuing part-time and flexible modular students who are not yet eligible for condonement may be reassessed next year.

Exam Board processes

The examination period has been extended, and the end of the period now falls after the end of Third Term . A revised schedule for exchange of marks and Examination Boards has been published, including details of reassessment for undergraduate and postgraduate taught finalists.  Note that the timing of the postgraduate taught final exam boards has been set to allow for later submission deadlines for dissertations. Boards are strongly recommended to adjust their standard Masters and MRes dissertation deadlines in view of the later timing of the main assessment period, as well as case-by-case extensions for Extenuating Circumstances.