Teaching & Learning


How to review assessment: FAQs

This page provides an overview of the current assessment review process at UCL as of July 2023, and the implications of making changes to assessments.

Please note: this page is intended to complement assessment design guidance. Processes mentioned on this page are subject to change. Refer to the linked UCL guidance pages for further information.

What information can students see about summative assessments?

The primary UCL resource for module information is the Module catalogue. The catalogue is updated twice a year: in March to allow for early module selection and in July, when more detailed information is added. Each catalogue entry includes key information on teaching and assessment, including mode of study, methods of assessment (percentage weighting and high-level descriptor) and mark scheme e.g. numeric, letter-graded. 

A full list of assessment type codes is available. The recent module catalogue was published with only high-level code descriptors visible and it has been agreed to retain this reduced level of detail for the time being.

High-level assessment information, such as (assessment strategies on specific programmes, is also shown in the UCL prospectus (Undegraduate and Postgraduate). More in-depth assessment information is provided on Moodle module pages. UCL is committed to ensuring prospective and current students are able to make informed choices about their future studies, which is supported by allowing students to view clear and correct information about forthcoming assessments.

When can I change a summative assessment?

The current situation has been in place since Covid and offers two opportunities to make changes to summative assessment patterns.

  • Post exam board – changes can be made if there is, or has been, an issue with the assessment.  
  • As part of the Curriculum Data Maintenance (CMD): Modules and Assessments task – CDM allows staff to confirm which modules are running and the assessments within these modules. 

These two opportunities support the existing module and programme design processes.  Note that departments may have their own local processes and internal timings for submitting and considering change requests.

Assessment amendments after exam boards

A Module Assessment Spreadsheet is shared with each faculty in early July after undergraduate exam boards. The spreadsheet lists all existing assessments using data taken from Portico. Staff selected by the faculty (normally admin staff) will be able to make amendments to the assessment data as required. Data to enable these changes may be collected in different ways by different faculties, for example some faculties create their own form to capture intended changes from module staff.

The Assessment Change spreadsheets for the 2023-24 academic year is available from Friday 2 June until Wednesday 12 July for Departmental changes and 14 July for Faculty approvals. Changes to assessments submitted and approved by these deadlines will be reflected in the summer refresh of the Module Catalogue and available to new students making module selections.

Prior to completion of the spreadsheet the module leader will need to get departmental and faculty approval. The approval process varies by faculty but may include (if appropriate, discussion with your module team, discussion with the faculty tutor and engagement with various academic groups, and departmental and faculty-level committees. 

From September 2023, UCL will be asking Departments to enter their assessment dates for the coming academic year directly into Portico rather than via the Assessment Change spreadsheet on the Student Records MS Teams site.

As part of the Curriculum Data Maintenance: Modules and Assessments task

CDM serves the purpose of confirming whether modules are running or not, it is also used to review aspects such as module description, class sizes, delivery types. It is important to note that departments are unable to make significant amendments to modules, such as assessment or credits, through CDM. 

The assessment spreadsheet task runs multiple times throughout the year, and the Lifecycle aim for most changes to have been implemented in time for CDM. This ensures departments have access to the latest information when they review their modules. 

All module amendments for the following academic session must be submitted to the Student Lifecycle Team by the responsible Faculty (via the Programme and Module Hub on the Student Records and Faculty MS Team) between November and February. View full details of the Curriculum Data Maintenance process along with a timeline of dates. This information feeds into publication of the UCL Module catalogue

Good quality assessment data is important for managing scheduling, supporting SORA students and mitigating circumstances, and other areas essential to the student experience.

Module and Programme design

Modules and programmes are developed through the programme and module approval process. They are supported by the Arena Centre’s Programme Development team and those embarking on development should refer to the Good Practice Guide and the Assessment Framework for Taught Programmes. The following groups approve programmes at key stages: Financial Performance and Planning Committee (FPPC); Departmental Teaching Committee (DTC); Faculty Teaching Committee (FTC); Research Degrees Committee (RDC) - centrally approves postgraduate research provision; Programme and Module Approval Panel (PMAP)- centrally approves taught provision. 

This year 9 June is the deadline for faculties to submit amendments to the Programme Amendments Working Group (PAWG) for academic year 2024/5 to ensure items are included in the prospectus.  Departments will additionally need to reflect any approved changes through the ensuing UG or PGT prospectus copy-call process (to update marketing information).

Prior to the deadline departments will need to submit amendments to faculties earlier (usually by set faculty deadlines) to enable the Faculty Offices to review the amendments, feedback, and have the department make and necessary revisions, prior to faculty approval and onward submission in time for the 9 June deadline. Amendments are strongly discouraged after this date but can be received via the Academic Policy, Quality and Standards team. Their requirement will need to be well-evidenced. All changes should be compliant with Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance. 

Throughout the academic year

Attend assessment design training, review assessment feedback and data, discuss module and programme with colleagues and students

MonthEvents to note
  • Module catalogue published
  • Early module selection
  • UG Exam boards
  • Review of assessments
  • Assessment amendments
  • Module catalogue published
  • PG Exam boards
  • Assessment amendments as part of exam timetable data collection process

What should I consider when changing a summative assessment?

If you wish to change a summative assessment you will want to consider the following questions before you proceed:

What data and feedback do I have about the previous assessment and what does it tell me?

Information available may include feedback from the Continuous Module Dialogue questions; programme evaluation surveys (qualitative module level feedback); general feedback from staff and students; Board of Examiner discussions; External Examiner reports. and your own reflections on delivering the module. Reports are available in Portico on a wide variety of areas including outcomes, mark ranges and changes in assessments type over the duration of a module. Some of this data is shared with exam boards. Contact the Lifecycle team for further information. Exams papers can be viewed via the Electronic Exam Papers Service. You may also wish to consider your departmental education plan and the faculty education plan which collect aims and targets for the University Management Committee.

How does this specific assessment sit within the module?

It is important to consider how the assessment meets module learning outcomes; the number of assessments (avoid over-assessment); how you can build student skills for a ‘new’ assessment type (e.g. digital skills); the relationship to formative assessments on the module (e.g. do the formative assessments prepare students for the summative assessment?); and if the assessment complies with the assessment load model. Note that the assessment load model offers a ceiling, not a floor, and you should avoid over-assessing and putting too much pressure on students. If required, you should also plan appropriate alternative assessments for SORA students.

How does this specific assessment sit within the programme?

Modules sit within a programme, and you should consider your assessment in relation to the rest of the assessments on the programme. This may involve looking at the spread of assessments and their deadline dates. For some programmes ‘ownership’ may be spread across multiple individuals, others may have a single programme director. Efforts should be made to ensure that those teaching on a programme are communicated with and there is an oversight of the programme curriculum including assessments. It is recognised that this may prove difficult in the case of joint faculties. Note that changes to module assessment may constitute a programme amendment. Refer to Sections 4 and 5 of Chapter 7B of the UCL Academic Manual for further information and guidance.

How does this change impact others?

Changes to assessments may impact multiple members of staff, including those that deal with managing assessments and related data. Ensure that you have communicated changes to all involved and considered the timing of changes on their workload. If information about the assessment has already been communicated with students, then they will need to be consulted regarding changes. Late changes to assessment type can make for a poor student experience.  Students may have selected modules based on particular assessment types; some neurodiverse students may prepare for assessments months in advance. There is an additional layer of approval for late programme amendments.  

Assessments should be considered holistically. They are an important component in a complex framework that ensures a student meets their degree objectives. Ensure that changes are well thought through and have involved consultation with others including, when possible, students. Dramatic change is not always the best approach. Instead consider how you can refine and improve assessments based on feedback and learnings from Continuing Professional Development (CPD), colleagues and pedagogic research. 

What type of changes can I make to a summative assessment?

Some changes can be made with no or little notification. You can change an exam paper question or an essay title close to the assessment date providing students have not been given the details. You can also add in additional resources to be analysed or supporting materials to be referred to. You may need to confirm these changes with your External Examiner.

Many of the changes required to better engage students in their assessment and support academic integrity lie within good question design. Small tweaks such as asking students to think through scenarios, analyse original content or reflect on what has been discussed in class can have a big impact on the quality of responses. If a question can be readily answered by an online search or the quick use AI tool, then it may require rethinking.  These ideas are explored further by Arena and others in workshops that look at question (including Multiple Choice Questions) and assessment design.

Other changes such as those listed below will need to be made using the already identified change opportunities.

  • Change to assessment category 
  • Change from in-person to online
  • Change from online to in-person
  • Change in weighting
  • Change from individual to group assessment
  • Change format of submission e.g. essay to video/audio/presentation

There are other changes where the change process depends on if an assessment is centrally or departmentally managed. You may wish to discuss this further with the Central Assessment Team. They can be contacted using examinations@ucl.ac.uk.

  • Change from central to departmental, or departmental to central – These changes can be handled by the Central Assessment Team.
  • Change of the platform used for the assessment – If the assessment is centrally managed these changes can be handled by the Central Assessment Team

How can I be sure students won’t cheat with generative AI?

Unfortunately, there is no fool proof method. As AI tools become increasingly prevalent, it becomes more difficult for students to detect the presence of AI elements within a tool or even discern their own contributions. We are currently in a time of significant technological and societal transformation, which may require redefining concepts like 'cheating' and adjusting our expectations and understanding of academic achievement. This, in turn, will necessitate a radical change in assessment design.

While some may argue that in-person assessments, particularly examinations, are the only viable solution, it is important to avoid defaulting to them. Students deserve assessments that are engaging, promote learning, and align with the realities of the world in which they will live and work. Designing appropriate and scalable assessments poses complex challenges, but UCL recognises the need to prioritise good design.

How can I ensure my assessment is fit for purpose in the long run?

Assessment design should be part of an iterative cycle as part of general curriculum design. When designing new programmes or modules, or considering existing courses, you should try to take a cross-institutional approach and involve expertise from beyond your area. Good design will involve people from quality, academic practice, Library, Digital Education and students. Both Arena and Digital Education run courses that may be of interest. Areas of interest may include more inclusive design that looks at offering alternative assessment types for SORA students or has Universal Design for Learning at the core. Good design involves time, resources and communication. It should be something that you plan for. 

The new UCL educational framework has ‘Put meaningful assessment and feedback at the heart of teaching and learning’ as one of the top four education priorities. For students, assessment is one of the most important elements of their university experience. The effort put into assessment design will be reaped through improved student engagement, fewer academic misconduct panels and improved NSS scores. 

What UCL guidance is helpful to support me when changing an assessment?

Process timelines
Process guidance
Assessment guidance
Design guidance
Digital Assessment guidance
AI guidance


The following people have contributed to the writing of this resource
  • Ksenia Burns, Lifecycle team
  • Jon Chandler, Associate Professor (Teaching) in History 
  • Ashley Doolan, Head of policy, academic quality and standards
  • Marieke Guy, Head of Digital Assessment
  • Louise Grimmett, Student Wellbeing
  •  Kirsten Hamilton, Head of Student Records 
  • Claire Hartill, Head of Student Casework and regulations
  • Leo Havemann, Projects Manager (Academic Development)
  • Arne Hofmann, Director of Education & Faculty Tutor, Arts and Humanities & Social and Historical Sciences
  • Wayne Holmes , Associate Professor in the UCL Knowledge Lab 
  • David Howells, Programmes, Systems, Data Manager, Department of Computer Science
  • Evi Katsapi, Head of Undergraduate provision, IOE
  • Zak Liddell, Director of Education Services
  • Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab 
  • Sandra Lusk, Projects Manager (Academic Development)
  • Katherine Majid, Assessment Delivery Manager
  • Chris Marshall, Portico Governance manager 
  • Kylie McCarroll, Student records manager
  • Eleanor Millan, Senior Policy Advisor (Programme Approval) Academic Policy, Quality and Standards 
  • Joanne Moles, Head of Assessment Delivery and Platforms
  • Kate Neilson, Policy Advisor (Programme Approval) Academic Policy, Quality and Standards
  • Beatrice Peries-Brown, Quality Officer, Quality Team, IOE
  • Ayanna Prevatt-Goldstein, Head of UCL Academic Communication Centre
  • Mary Richardson, Professor of Educational Assessment at IOE
  • Mike Rowson, Faculty Tutor, Population Health
  • Karen Shackleford-Cesare, Projects Manager (Academic Development)
  • Hannah Swallow, CMA guidance
  • Fiona Strawbridge, Director of Digital Education
  • Angela Young, LCCOS Library services