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Update from Senior Lecturer/Dean of Undergraduate Studies to undergraduate students

28 April 2021

Dear students,

I hope you are all keeping safe and well. This has been a year of extraordinary challenges for staff and students, but also one where the whole College community has pulled together to ensure teaching and learning could continue. Students in particular have shown remarkable resilience and the upcoming final assessments provide another chance to demonstrate how much you have learned.

As the undergraduate assessment period approaches, there are a few things to keep in mind, especially in relation to the conduct of assessments online:

Online exams: If you have any real-time online exams you should ensure that your connectivity is adequate and that you are familiar with the virtual assessment platform. Extensive information on how to prepare for online exams and what to do in the event of any technical difficulties on the day can be found here.

Assessment formats: Some online exams are open-book, where you can refer to your notes or other materials (as specified by the course), but others are closed-book, where you are expected not to. Your School, course, or module coordinator will make it clear what kind of access to reference materials is allowed during the exam period and how it should be referenced in your submitted work.

Online invigilation: Some real-time closed-book online exams will be invigilated online, usually through Zoom. Your course will advise on the exact methods and ensure that all students are familiar with the software and relevant processes. This mode of invigilation is intended to ensure that students are not consulting course materials or internet sources, or discussing answers with anyone else. Where there is reason to suspect some sort of misconduct, courses may carry out a live interview exam to assess the student’s knowledge.

Plagiarism: We expect all work submitted to be the student’s own. With many final exams online there are more opportunities to fall foul on use and citation of source materials. All work submitted online will be screened for plagiarism and normal rules, processes, and penalties apply. In the interests of fairness and protecting academic integrity, plagiarism is taken extremely seriously. See here for more information.

Essay mills: Recent years have seen a rise of online companies that illegally provide essays to students for submission (see here for more information). You should be aware that these “services” use predatory tactics to target students and to extort payment or other information. Their use is also not confidential – these services will confirm to the university that a piece of work was supplied by them. Passing off such work as your own is not permitted and will be treated as serious academic misconduct, with penalties that can include expulsion.  

Deferral: We strongly encourage all students to attempt all their assessments. However, as recently advised, if you need to you can choose to defer any or all modules to the reassessment session in August. Any such decision should be taken in consultation with your Tutor and notified to Student Cases before the assessment in question, not after an attempt has been made or the exam has been viewed. 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 “Reassessment 2” assessments in 2021 and students who fail their deferred assessment will be required to repeat the module in the next academic year).

    1. Capstone Projects: Students may defer submission of their capstone project thesis until the reassessment session.
    2. 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 if 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 (i.e., there will be no “Reassessment 2” assessments in 2021 and students who fail their deferred assessment will be required to repeat the module in the next academic year).

Re-sits: Students in years contributing to their final degree grade will have an opportunity to re-sit passed modules if they wish. 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 your Tutor and the Head of your discipline or course coordinator. School/Course offices will send recommendations to the Senior Lecturer via Student Cases.

    1. Capstone Projects: Students will NOT have the right to re-submit capstone project theses, where a first submission has already been graded and feedback made available.  
    2. Exceptions: there may be other modules involving experiential components such as group or project work, for which re-sits cannot be provided.

In preparation for the exams, if any of you are struggling with issues that may affect your ability to sit them, please do make contact with your Tutor, with the course or module coordinators, with Student Counselling, College Health, or the Disability Service. These facilities are all in place to help you. Important advice on how to prepare for real-time exams and carry them out online can be found on the IT Services website.

I would like to wish you all the very best with your assessments and once again recognise the tremendous resilience and perseverance you have all shown through this unprecedented period.

With best wishes,

Kevin Mitchell
Senior Lecturer/Dean of Undergraduate Studies