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Update from Senior Lecturer/Dean of Undergraduate Studies to staff

6 April 2021

Dear colleagues, 

We hope you are keeping safe and well. This academic year has been more difficult for all of us than we could have imagined but Trinity’s staff and students have shown incredible resilience and adaptability throughout this crisis. Within a few weeks we will have managed together to complete our two semesters, with new modes of teaching, learning, and assessment. 

We are writing now with some information on the upcoming assessments and a number of measures we have put in place to try and support students through this process. We recognise that conditions are still chronically challenging, even if the emergency crisis that arose in early January has dissipated substantially. To help students cope with these conditions, Council (31st March) has approved the following measures: 

Deferral: students will have the automatic right to defer assessments (examinations or assignments) for second semester modules. As for the first semester, they can choose to defer some assessments and not others. Any deferred modules will be assessed in the reassessment session in August, and recorded as a first attempt. However, in this instance, no second attempt will be possible before the next academic year (i.e., there will be no “special supplemental” assessments in 2021). 

a. Capstone Projects: Students may defer submission of their capstone project thesis until the reassessment session. 

b. Exceptions: certain modules, including clinical skills assessments, for example, may not be deferrable and must be undertaken at the designated time. 

Deferred semester one assessments: these assessments are due to take place in a supplementary session starting the 24th of May. Students may defer some or all of these assessments again as they wish to the session in August, still as a first attempt. However, as for second semester modules, no second attempt will be possible before the next academic year. 

Requests for deferrals should be submitted by Tutors to Student Cases before the scheduled assessment. Students will not be asked to submit supporting documentation justifying the request, but they MUST submit a formal request to defer to register the decision prior to the scheduled assessment. 

Extensions: Students may request extensions for submission of specific pieces of work, as they might normally. Such requests for extensions should be made directly or through the Tutor to the respective Module or Course Coordinator. Our general advice is that Schools should be quite generous in granting such extensions, in a way that maintains fairness and academic integrity. Generally, extensions for work that was due during term time should be given only until the end of the assignment week of the new assessment period (28th May). Otherwise, students’ marks will not be complete in time for the courts of examiners. 

Courts of Examiners: As approved last year, Courts of Examiners should exercise their discretion with greater latitude than normal in determining students’ overall grades, taking account of the generally challenging conditions. For example, if a student’s performance on a module or modules is significantly below their normal level, it may be reasonable to predict what their overall degree grade would have been if those modules had not been affected by the crisis. This may make a difference to an overall degree grade in some cases and not others, depending on how many credits are involved and whether a student is near a borderline. In assigning a degree grade, examiners will not have to change module percentage marks to make the numbers add up to the final grade – this can be applied independently at the discretion of the examiners. 

Compensation: Normal compensation rules for progression will apply, but it will not be possible to pass modules by aggregation. That is, if students have an overall passing grade, they may pass by compensation up to 10 ECTS of modules, if they have achieved a mark of at least 35% in those modules. Note that some courses have specific modules or components that cannot be passed in this way by compensation. 

Re-sits: As for first semester assessments, students in years that contribute to their final degree grade may apply to re-sit passed modules, following the same procedures. Re-sits will be scheduled in the reassessment session in August and students will be awarded the higher grade achieved, with their yearly or degree grade adjusted accordingly. 

Such applications can only be made following the semester two exams and the release of module and overall degree grades to students. Applications should be made within two weeks of publication of results to the relevant School following consultation with between the student, their Tutor and the Head of discipline or course coordinator. School/Course offices will send recommendations to the Senior Lecturer via Student Cases. 

a. Capstone Projects: Students will NOT have the automatic right to re-submit capstone project theses, where a first submission has already been graded and feedback made available. However, if some Schools wish to allow this, it can be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

b. Exceptions: there may be other modules involving experiential components such as group or project work, for which re-sits cannot be provided. 

One further note: 

Timing of assessments: Where a final assessment (either an assignment or an in-class test) is normally (i.e., in non-Covid times) conducted in-term, this can still take place. Please note that it is not appropriate for in-term tests to be scheduled on or over the weekend. Where such assessments constitute a substantial proportion of the module grade, it is recommended that they be scheduled in the official assessment period, following the end of term. Where 

final assessments (including take-home exams or assignments) have been put in place in lieu of a final examination, they should be scheduled during the official assessment period. 

Thank you all for implementing these mitigation measures, which are an important element of our overall efforts to lessen the impact of the pandemic on students. Thank you also more generally for your incredible efforts throughout the year, which have allowed teaching and learning to continue. 

Wishing you the best for the rest of the semester, 

Kevin Mitchell 

Senior Lecturer/Dean of Undergraduate Studies