Teaching, learning, assessment and progression

The guidance on this page applies to most taught programmes. The International Pathway College have different arrangements and will communicate directly with students.

Key information

  • Our aim for the Autumn term 2020 is to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as possible and to deliver online teaching where we need to. Find out more about our plans.

Assessments and examinations 2019/20

Information in this section relates to the 2019/20 academic year. We have provided details elsewhere of our plans for Autumn term 2020; examinations will continue to take place online for the timebeing.

This video explains how we will be delivering online assessments and supporting students through this change, including the introduction of a 'safety net' for undergraduate students.

More information and videos can be found on these pages:

Alternative assessments

Moving assessment online is a big task which has been coordinated across the University. The changes made vary, taking into account what is practical in the context of each module and academic programme. Most assessments have changed in one of the following ways:

  1. A coursework alternative where some exams are replaced by an open assessment with at least one month between students receiving the assessment specification and the submission date.

  2. An open exam alternative where the exam is replaced with an online exam that is available for 24 hours. There may be a small number of exams where there will be different durations or other special features.

  3. Changes to other types of assessments

  4. In a limited number of cases the assessment may be waived.

We are doing everything possible to protect the academic quality of our awards. We will continue to run our Boards of Examiners and to engage with our external examiners. We are also engaging with external accrediting bodies to work through the implications of Covid-19 and further information will be made available as soon as possible.

1. Coursework

Instead of an exam, you will be set a task that will, as far as possible, test the same learning. You will be given a month in which to complete this work and submit it. This does not mean that the assessment is of the same scale as other coursework where you are given a month. We recognise that you are taking multiple modules and will have multiple substitute assessments of this kind, so the task is intended to be manageable within a far shorter period than the full month. Your department will advise you about the expectations and the process and deadline for online submission.

If circumstances don’t allow you to complete within the timescale, for example because of illness or caring responsibilities, or because you are not able to access the learning resources or technology you need, you will be able to apply for Exceptional Circumstances.

2. Online exam (24 hour)

An online exam will usually be available to students to be completed during a 24 hour period. These will be open-book exams where students are allowed to use any paper and digital resources (e.g. obtained through an internet search), but not allowed to discuss the paper with anyone else. The exam will be released online and will be submitted electronically.

The 24-hour time slot allows for the greatest possibility for equity for students completing assessments from different time zones, as well as flexibility for students who are working, have caring commitments, limited IT access or other disruptions.

Exams will not take 24 hours to complete, it is simply the fixed window in which the work should be done. You should try to complete the exam several hours before the due time so it is uploaded well before the deadline.

Your academic department will release your exam via the VLE and also by email shortly before the 24-hour time slot opens via the VLE - this is a backup in case you have difficulty in accessing the VLE. Your exam will have a submission point on the VLE. In the event of technical difficulties in accessing the VLE you will also have a departmental email address to which your script should be sent.

Note: there may be exams that do not follow the 24-hour open exam model. This will be because the University has worked with your department to support shorter or longer time slots because there are very specific requirements arising for the nature of the discipline you are studying.

3. Other types of assessment

Presentations

In some cases, presentation elements of assessments have been waived. Where they remain, your department will provide detailed guidance and advice to students about recording presentations, including what is expected and what technology supported methods will be used.

Group work

It will not be feasible to deliver assessments that depend on real-time, real-world interaction. Some group work may continue online. Where this isn't possible, changes to assessment formats and requirements have been developed to provide assessments that do not depend on working in groups or in labs or other specialised facilities.

Placement year

We know that those on placements, whether on a year abroad or in industry, will need special consideration. Work is in hand to develop this and we will be updating information soon.

Independent study, such as projects and dissertations

Your supervisor will consider how amendments can be made to the task so that it can be completed remotely and without access to specialist resources and facilities. You will also be guided about your options - for example in some circumstances you may wish to apply for an extension to your registration to enable you to complete your dissertation or project.

4. Waived assessment or exam

There are a number of reasons why an assessment or exam might be waived. These include:

  • conversion to coursework or online form is not possible for technical reasons

  • circumstances where, as a result of Covid-19, the activity such as a field trip on which the assessment has been based has had to be cancelled

  • the assessment or exam requires access to specialised facilities which are only available on campus.

We have University approval mechanisms in place to waive part of the module content in circumstances such as those we are now facing. These do require that:

  1. The learning outcomes, that the assessment was originally intended to measure, have been assessed elsewhere, and

  2. The effect of waiving the assessment should not result in disproportionate advantage or disadvantage for any student(s).

We are in the process of making decisions and if one of your assessments is waived, your Department will let you know. If a component has been waived, your mark for that module will be made up wholly from the remaining components rescaled to give a mark out of 100%.

Assessment timetable

Our new online exam timetable has been based as closely as possible on the planned timetable. In some cases changes have been made to ensure that we do not overload students or the online system.

Most students should now have confirmed hand-in date and times for all coursework assessments. You will have at least a month for coursework and the latest due date for a piece of coursework will be the end of week 6 (22 May 2020). Please note that International Pathway College (IPC) students should follow guidance from the IPC itself.

Maintaining academic integrity

As always, we expect students to act honestly and to apply high standards of academic integrity. Please see the academic integrity tutorial which is available through the VLE module list if you wish to refresh your knowledge.

During your exam, you may use relevant resources but must not communicate with other students about the assessment during the period when it is live. We trust that all our students will seek to maintain the integrity of the assessment, and of their award, through ensuring that these instructions are strictly followed.

Failure to adhere to these requirements will be considered a breach of the Academic Misconduct regulations, where the offences of breach/cheating, collusion and commissioning are relevant.

Assessment support and advice

We have provided a revised exam protocol and student guidance. It includes advice on what you will need to be able to take your exam, information on how to submit, what to do if you have a question about the exam, and what to do if your performance is impacted by exceptional circumstances.

Student Support Plans and disability

We know that students with variable assessment needs (for example, due to disabilities) need special consideration. If you need a revision to your SSP please contact Disability Services in the first instance.

First year undergraduates

First year undergraduates will automatically progress to the second year of study. If you are concerned about your preparedness for next year/next stage of study, you should make contact with your academic supervisor or someone in your department to discuss your options. Although you may progress to the second year you might also decide that what is best for you is to repeat the first year. Through our ‘back on track’ system we will be providing additional advice and support to students who are struggling.

Teaching and learning

The shift to online teaching is a major and challenging change for both staff and students. We are in an unprecedented situation and all involved - our students, academic staff and the professional staff who support the systems and processes on which new delivery will run - will need patience, kindness and understanding as we work things out and try new ways of doing things.

Guidance has been developed to help staff adapt their teaching and they are being supported by colleagues in the University’s Programme Development and Learning Technology Team and by staff in IT Services.

Departments have a lot of flexibility in how to deliver their teaching, so the following sections are about what to expect in general. You will hear specifics from your Department.

Pre-recorded lectures

Most lectures will not be delivered ‘live’ but will be pre-recorded so students can view them at any time. Lectures may also be broken up into smaller ‘chunks’. Lecturers are likely to be recording content from their desks at home so you may see and hear some unusual background noises or be treated to glimpses of passing children, family members or pets.

Seminars and discussions

Real-time seminars may not be possible so lecturers may instead set up discussion boards on the VLE and post seminar subjects regularly. They will monitor as and when they can and will also be encouraged to identify times when students may be able to engage with them in ‘real time’.

There may be times when students and lecturers are not able to actively participate, for example if they themselves are unwell or are caring for unwell family members.

We are also encouraging student groups to self-organise and to set up their own chat groups and virtual spaces where they can exchange ideas and talk about the course materials. We have put together a resource for students which provides guidance on tech tools that you may be encouraged to use by your instructors: https://bit.ly/ytel-learningonline2

Supervision sessions

We will be doing all we can in these circumstances to maintain the opportunity for both pastoral and dissertation/research supervision as much as possible. Supervisors and their supervisees should use the platform that works best for both parties.

Teaching timetable

The teaching timetable will remain visible to staff and students. This will allow staff to contact their seminar groups easily. All sessions will show but without room numbers.

Resources for learning and assessment

We understand that this will be an anxious time as you study and prepare for your assessment in an unfamiliar way. Lecture recordings, reading resources and further study materials will be made available within your VLE module site. While you do not have access to the Library's physical resources, you can still access electronic resources (including ebooks and ejournals). There is also guidance for studying online.

Please contact your Academic Liaison Librarian with details of any specific resources which you are struggling to access. You can find their details on our Subject Guides. You can also request ebooks not already held in the Library's collections.

IT Services have worked with departments to identify the software that you might need this term. Find out how you can access the software you need.

There is plenty of support available if you need guidance on how to study from home:

Students without IT equipment or internet access

We understand that some of you may not have adequate access to either IT equipment or internet connections to engage with online learning; we will do everything we can to support you. Please explore the options below or talk to your department (eg your supervisor).

On campus

IT rooms on campus will be open in the Autumn term, with physical distancing restrictions in place.

Financial support

If you are facing unanticipated financial challenges as a result of the current Covid-19 crisis, please visit our financial support web page for information on possible available support. If you wish to seek tailored advice on your situation, you can make a telephone, email or virtual appointment with our trained Student Advisers by completing the self-referral form online. Our advisers will talk to you about your current circumstances and direct you to appropriate advice and support, or recommend potential funding or loan opportunities.

Other support

If you are having other difficulties, for example technical difficulties, please refer to the IT support pages.

Exceptional circumstances and access to IT equipment or the internet

We appreciate that for some students difficulties with access to the internet may be limiting or preventing you from engaging fully with your online studies and submission of assessments. We have also made provision within the exceptional circumstances policy for students who are experiencing the impact of Covid-19 and this includes circumstances where reliable internet access is not available, or no suitable laptop, or other required resources, are available.

Discussing options

If a solution cannot be found in the longer term, students wishing to explore other options should contact their department to discuss. Please note Leave of Absence will only be considered once all other options have been explored.

Distance learning programmes

The University is preparing for various levels of impact, and expects to be able to continue to provide support for distance learning, albeit potentially with some changes in the event of broad impact in the UK. Staff are now working from home and students should keep an eye out for communications from their departments and module leaders to indicate any changes (for example in means of contact) should those become required.

The nature of online learning means that most of the resources you will require to participate in your course will be available online. But we are aware that travel restrictions, school closures, and increased demands on telecommunications infrastructure may make it difficult for you to engage in your normal way. If you are experiencing a high level of disruption to your daily routine, and suspect you may need to make an exceptional circumstances claim, please keep evidence of the causes of that disruption (government advice, notifications of closures, screenshots of network outage notifications) to support your claim in the event you need to make one.