Teaching & Learning


Initiatives and resources supporting the objectives of UCL's Education Strategy 2016-21


Exams 2021

The operating model for examinations for April/May 2021 will see all centrally managed exams take place as online, open book assessments.

Centrally managed exams in 2021

After consultation with faculties and departments, Education Committee has agreed the operating model for examinations for April/May 2021

In 2021, all centrally managed exams will be online, open book assessments.

The default duration of examinations will be 24 hours, as in summer 2020. However, there is also the option of a shorter duration within the 24-hour window: in these exams, the clock will start when the student logs in and selects commence. 

Setting a shorter duration will stop students spending too much time on the assessment and reduce opportunities for collusion, while still accommodating students in different time zones. However, it will not be possible to offer remote technical support for the full 24-hour period, which may affect students in other timezones. Any technical difficulties will be more likely to have significant impact where the overall duration is shorter.

As the timed format is less inclusive, students with examination adjustments will be given a full 24 hour duration. 

See Exams at UCL, 2020-21 for full instructions to students. 

Marking central exams training 


UCL Digital Education is offering guidance and training for UCL staff who are responsible for marking centrally managed exams in AssessmentUCL.

Centrally-managed vs. departmental exams

Centrally-managed exams

These are exams that are scheduled and managed by the UCL Examinations Team and appear on the examination timetable. Departments will still be involved in providing key information to UCL Examinations and helping to communicate key information to students. In the event that a student experiences a technical failure that renders them unable to submit and/or they have an exam paper query they are to to complete an Exam Query form; UCL Examinations will pass on the relevant information to Departments or the Extenuating Circumstances Panel.

All centrally managed exams for 2020-21 will be taking place on AssessmentUCL.

Departmentally-managed exams/assessments

These assessments are managed solely by the department without any input from the UCL Examinations Team. The assessments will not appear on the examinations timetable.

In 2020-21, departmentally managed assessments will NOT take place in AssessmentUCL unless it is part of our pilot. In the future, we will be rolling out AssessmentUCL more widely to be able to support a wide range of assessments, including departmentally managed assessments.

Departments are to manage the exam paper queries and technical failures ECs via local channels.

Publication of examination timetable to students 1 March 2021

UCL has procured new examination timetabling software which will enable students to subscribe to their calendars and their exam timetable details will appear as an event in their personal calendars.  Students will also be able to log into an environment to see their exam timetable.

The dates and times stated in the examination timetable will be when the examination is available for students to access their exam.

The times shown on the timetable are in UK time which will be BST (UTC+1). The times shown in the AssessmentUCL platform will be the students' local time, wherever they are based.

See our student guide: How to view your examination timetable.

Examination papers deadline for submission: 12 March 2021

The exams office will formally request exam papers and issue cover sheets upon the publication of the draft examination timetable, if there are any changes to dates or additional exams to be added revised cover sheets will be sent to departments.  Exam papers should be submitted as PDF to the examinations office to enable upload onto the AssessmentUCL platform.  It is necessary to adhere to this deadline to enable the examinations team to set up all the examinations that are due to run in the April/May 2021 examination period.

Key dates

15 February: The draft examination timetable was released to departments 

1 March: The final examination timetable was published to students

12 March: Deadline for submitting exam papers to the examinations office

26 April - 28 May: Main examination period

AssessmentUCL Digital Assessment Platform

All centrally managed exams will be delivered on a new digital platform AssessmentUCL.  Students will be sent communication on how to access the platform and how to engage in the practice environment before the exam period.

How centrally managed exams will work:

  • All centrally managed exams will take place on AssessmentUCL and will be managed centrally.
  • Students' examination timetables and AssessmentUCL will indicate whether an exam is a 24 hour open book or a timed exam.
  • For students requiring an examination adjustment on a timed exam, their duration will be 24 hours for all exams.
  • The Exam Instance will be visible before the examination period but the exam paper will NOT be accessible before the start time indicated in the timetable.
  • A link to an examination paper query form will be made available for students to complete if they have a query on the exam or need to report a technical failure. This information will then be passed to teaching departments/faculties.
  • Students will download the PDF exam paper and work locally, they will need to convert their document into a PDF to then upload onto AssessmentUCL.
  • AssessmentUCL is integrated with UCL’s Turnitin licence and similarity scores and reports will be available for viewing by examiners.

AssessmentUCL practice exams

The AssessmentUCL practice exam environment and instructions have been shared with students. We have also created a step-by-step student guide to using the platform for centrally-managed exams. 

Staff who would like to view the practice exam can email AssessmentUCL@ucl.ac.uk to request access.

Marking in AssessmentUCL: training and support 

There is no requirement to mark on AssessmentUCL – marking can take place on AssessmentUCL, or markers can choose to simply view submissions on AssessmentUCL or download submissions for marking, entering grades etc. with a department spreadsheet. Marks must be entered into Portico as in previous years.

Digital Education have developed a Guide to marking centrally managed exams 2021.

See the full schedule and access joining links for online training sessions running throughout April and May. 

Daily drop-ins for support and troubleshooting will also run from 26 April - 28 May. 

We will also outline provision of access for markers, internal moderators and external examiners in future guidance.

24-hour exams

The task that is set in the examination paper should reflect the same time effort required for an ordinary exam.  The 24-hour window should be ample time for students to complete their assessment and submit without any time pressure.  The 24 hour period starts from the date and time indicated on the examination in which students will have 24 hours to access their exam complete and upload their assessment.

Timed exams in a 24 hour window

Where an exam has a timed duration students will be able to start their examination at any time in the 24 hours after the date and time shown on the examination timetable.  The time will start for a student when they select START exam on the AssessmentUCL platform.  Therefore if a student starts their exam in the 23rd hour the time will start from that point.  In addition to the duration of their exam students will have an additional 1 hour upload time for their submissions.

Examination adjustments

All students with a SORA will have 24 hours to complete their examination whether they are taking a timed exam or a 24 hour exam.  The 24 hour period will start at the date and time that is shown on their examination timetables.  The Student Support and Wellbeing team will work with any students that require enhanced support.

Central administration

The Examinations Team will be centrally supporting the administration of the exams that are included in the examination timetable.  The team will set up the exams and upload the PDF examination paper and set up the individual exam on the AssessmentUCL platform. 

The exam will be visible but NOT accessible until the date and time stipulated in the examination timetable. 

As part of this process the exams team will need to collect some key information to ensure that the correct people have access to the relevant areas on AssessmentUCL to enable them to have the relevant access.

Examination paper queries

One of the biggest causes of student queries in an examination is the examination paper.  It is therefore essential that examination papers are accurate and clear instructions are provided for students. 

Where students have a query, they are asked to complete an examination query form noting what assumptions had to be made to enable them to continue.  The information will be submitted centrally to the examinations office who will then forward this information onto teaching departments so that this can be taken into consideration when marking or to be shared at Examination Boards.

Technical issues for Students

Understandably, there may be instances where a student experiences a technical issue which may prevent them from uploading their examination submission on time.  Students will be able to complete an exam query form where they can log the issue encountered; students will be asked to provide some screenshots/photos etc so that we are able to understand the issue. 

This process is separate from the EC procedure. All submissions will come to the Exams Office who will pass the data and evidence to the EC panel for a decision.  Mitigation is limited to a deferral to the Late Summer (or next normal occasion). 

This does not include technical failures on the part of UCL; it us our responsibility to address these, through the Material Irregularities Procedure.

Upload window

The 'upload window' provides additional time for the submission of examinations. For examinations that are 24 hours in duration there will be no requirement to offer an upload window to students.  For any examination that has a timed element, a 1 hour upload window will be applied to allow students sufficient time to save their document and upload their submission to the assessment platform.

The upload window will be included in the “participation period” within the platform. However, the examination timetable will display the actual duration of the examination, NOT taking into account the upload window.

Town Halls

Listen to the recording of the February update on the AssessmentUCL project, including next steps. [UCL login required]. 


All queries should be sent to the UCL Examinations Team examinations@ucl.ac.uk.

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