Teaching & Learning


Assessment operating model and student regulations for 2021-22 now available

14 October 2021

Newly defined assessment types will help streamline the student regulations and guidance.

Student wearing mask working at a PC

On 14 October, Education Committee approved the Assessment Operating Model and accompanying student regulations for 2021-22. New webpages published today set out:

  • A staff-facing Assessment Operating Model, a summary of key changes from last year and a matrix summary of the regulations by assessment type.
  • Student-facing regulations for each type of assessment.
  • A new Self-certification Policy
  • A revised Student Academic Misconduct procedure.

These regulations apply for 2021/22 only; they are not a permanent change in UCL regulations. The model will however inform the framework for regulations supporting student assessment in future years.

Key changes this year

This year’s operating model for assessments and exams includes key changes in the following areas:

Defined types of assessment

The Assessment Operating Model for 2021/22 groups assessments into defined categories with discrete regulations:

  • Controlled Condition Exams,
  • Take-Home Papers,
  • Quizzes & In-class Tests,
  • Practical Exams,
  • Dissertations/ Research Projects and
  • Coursework and Other Assessments.

The majority of assessments should fall into these groups, but there may be occasions where an assessment is difficult to categorise.

This shared terminology is for regulatory purposes and aims to promote operational clarity and consistency across the university, not stifle the innovation in assessment design valued at UCL. Student guidance will be organised by assessment type, so students can easily see which regulations and processes apply to their situation. 

Default operating model for exams

For unseen written exams, the default operating model for 2021/22 is “Controlled Condition Exams” where the duration accurately reflects the amount of time a student should spend on the assessment, and where the regulations replicate, as far as is possible, the strict conditions in a face-to-face exam hall.

Departments are strongly encouraged to use short-duration, Controlled Condition Exams as these have significant benefits for both student wellbeing and academic integrity. 24 hour papers are still possible under the "Take-home paper" category, where there is a strong educational rationale. 

Process for confirming exam durations

The exact exam durations for 2021/22 will be confirmed via the Central Assessment Team’s annual data collection exercise, using the former face-to-face durations held in Portico as the starting point for this activity. Departments can then amend the exam duration or convert to a Take-Home Paper themselves,  as appropriate.

Upload window for “Controlled Condition Exams”

After careful consideration, the upload window has been reduced for 2021/22 to maintain the academic integrity of UCL’s assessments. A 20-minute upload window will be allowed for Controlled Condition Exams only. There is no additional upload window for any of the other defined assessment types.

The Student Regulations emphasise that Controlled Condition Exams are under strict conditions and students must not use the Upload Window to keep writing as they will need the full 20 minutes to make sure that everything has uploaded correctly.

AssessmentUCL set-up

In response to student and staff feedback, a number of improvements are being made to the set-up of AssessmentUCL in 2021/22 to ease the upload process, including allowing students to submit multiple times before their final submission and removing mandatory cover sheets.

Technical Failures Policy

To ease the staff burden and ensure consistency and efficiency for affected students, the Central Assessment Team will manage the approval process for students who experience technical issues in the AssessmentUCL platform; EC Panels will no longer be asked to make the decisions.

Extensions and Late Submissions for Take-Home Papers

In response to staff and student feedback, “Take-home Papers” (previously 24-hour exams) have been adjusted to allow greater flexibility, particularly with regards to late submissions. For example, Take-home Papers will be set up in AssessmentUCL or in Moodle as 'Coursework' which means that extensions can be added and students can submit late (note: late submissions will be marked with a penalty).

Self-Certification Policy

Changes have been made to the Self-Certification Policy to improve academic integrity and fairness, and to ease the workload for departments. Key changes include: 

  • A return to two self-certification periods per year, and three for programmes with teaching after Term 3. Students cannot self-certify after the assessment has started or the deadline has passed.
  • Self-certification can only be applied once to each assessment.

The policy applies for 2021-22 only and is not a permanent change to UCL regulations.

Student Academic Misconduct Procedure

Procedures been revised to help UCL respond to collusion, contract cheating and other forms of misconduct in online assessments.

Most notably, new definitions have been added to cover ‘Online Assessment Misconduct’ specifically as the existing ‘Examination Room Misconduct’ and the broader Academic Misconduct definitions did not cover all of the specific offences that may occur in an online environment.

The definition of Contract Cheating has also been expanded to also include knowingly using a commissioned piece of assessment, e.g. a Homework Help.

We encourage colleagues to help promote Academic Integrity resources to students, including a new Moodle course available this year. 

See the staff-facing Assessment Operating Model for full details of each of these areas of change.

Departmentally-managed exams and assessments

The Assessment Operating Model sets out how all centrally-managed exams and assessments will take place this year, but it also provides a regulatory framework to support departmentally-managed exams, coursework, practical exams, presentations, in-class tests and more. 

Departments running their own exams and assessments should aim to follow the Assessment Operating Model and student regulations, but some differences may be necessary e.g. if an alternative digital platform is being used. Departments are responsible for letting students know about any differences.

Student communications

The Exams and Assessments webpage on the Current Students site has been revised to include details of the new operating model and will act as a one-stop-shop for all guidance and support to students taking assessments or exams.

The operating model will be publicised to students in an upcoming edition of the all-student newsletter, MyUCL. Please also signpost to the webpage in your faculty/departmental/module websites and communications.

Covid-19 assessment mitigations

All information on the help made available to students whose exams and assessments were affected by Covid-19 during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic sessions has been archived in the Academic Manual. View the Covid-19 Mitigation pages for details.

Attend a Town Hall

Assessment Operating Model 2021-22

About: Join us for an update and Q&A on the revised academic regulations for this year's assessment operating model.


  • 20 October, 11:30am -1.00pm
  • 22 October, 2.00pm-3.30pm
  • 26 October, 3pm-4.30pm

How: The joining link is available from the Education Town Halls page [UCL login required].

Panel: Prof Simon Walker (Academic Lead, Arena Centre), Joanne Moles (Head of Assessment Delivery & Platforms, Academic Services), Lizzie Vinton (Academic Regulations Manager, Academic Services) and Anisa Patel (Head of Digital Assessment, Digital Education).


For any questions on the detail of academic regulations, please contact  academicregulations@ucl.ac.uk

For all other assessment or exam-related questions, please contact the Central Assessment Team at examinations@ucl.ac.uk