Chapter 2 - Setting and Submission of Assessments

  1. Setting and Submission of Assessments
    1. Principles for Setting Assessment
      1. When designing assessments the following principles must be applied:
        1. The volume, timing and nature of assessments must be designed with the intention of enabling students to demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the relevant intended learning outcomes.
        2. All intended learning outcomes should be assessed.
        3. Information to students about what is expected of them must be provided clearly and explicitly at the beginning of each module and/or programme.
        4. Assessments must support student learning as well as measuring achievement.
        5. Information on any arrangements for re-assessment must be made available to students at the beginning of each module.
      2. When setting assessment(s) consideration should be given to the need to eliminate opportunities for academic misconduct.
      3. There should always be more than one assessment for a module although it is permitted to have only one summative assessment element.
      4. Guidelines on the use of assessment methods, criteria and feedback should be made available by Colleges to all staff involved in the assessment and feedback process.
    2. Timing
      1. All undergraduate students should have an opportunity to undertake at least one assessment in the first six weeks of the commencement of their programmes.
      2. Students must be informed of the submission dates of all assessments. This should be done by the end of the first week of the start of each module. Where this is not possible, students should be given at least four weeks’ notice of the deadline for submission.
    3. Information to be Made Available to Students
      1. Students should have access to the marking criteria that will be applied to their assessment(s).
      2. Information for students should make it clear to whom, and how submission takes place. In order to provide unambiguous evidence of the date and time of submission, the methods of submission must include a mechanism for recording the submission. It should also include a mechanism for asserting on the part of students that the work in question is their own.
      3. Functions of Assessment
        1. Formative Assessment: An assessment item for which the mark does not contribute to the final mark for a module. Formative assessment may or may not be compulsory and penalties for non-completion may not apply. Formative assessment has a developmental purpose. It should indicate what is good about a piece of work and why this is good; it should indicate how the work could be improved.
        2. Summative Assessment: An assessment item for which the mark contributes to the final mark for a module. For summative assessments the module descriptor must indicate the percentage weighting of the final mark. Summative assessment is used to gauge the extent to which students can demonstrate attainment of the intended learning outcomes of a module or programme in relation to published marking criteria.
      4. When setting assignments the following information must be provided to
        students, as applicable:
        1. Word count, including details on what should be included within this.
        2. Referencing style and associated guide
        3. Link to Academic Conduct and Practice (Chapter 12, Assessment Progression and Awarding Handbook)
        4. Style guide (if the department does not have their own guide students should be asked to use the University guide for taught students (Annex C)
        5. Method of submission
        6. Marking criteria

          The information under 2.3.4 must be available through the ELE page for the module (except where inappropriate), either through links to other documents or as part of an assignment brief. (An example assignment brief can be found under Annex B)
    4. Methods of Assessment
      1. Over the course of a programme of study a diverse range of areas of knowledge and skills should be assessed to mark achievement of a diverse range of intended learning outcomes, and utilising a diverse range of forms of assessment. When designing assessment(s), consideration should be given to the most appropriate method of assessment to support student learning and ascertain whether students have manifested attainment of intended learning outcomes. Advice on setting appropriate methods of assessment can be sought from the University’s Academic Success team.
    5. Setting Re-assessments
      1. Students who have been referred in an assessment, or have been given permission to defer an assessment, must be assessed on the original syllabus.
      2. Where there are practical reasons why the original form of assessment on a module cannot be replicated for referral or deferral purposes, an alternative form of assessment must be used. Examples of when this approach is justified include where the original assessment relied on fieldwork, group work, access to specialist equipment, or input from visiting staff; or where the process of assessment throughout the module was intricate, involving many assessments. The method of reassessment should address as many of the module’s intended learning outcomes as is possible. The rationale for using alternative forms of assessment should be explained to students when their assessments are referred or deferred.
      3. Where reassessment in the form of an exam is via the same format as the original assessment, any questions/ tasks set should be different.
    6. Setting Examination Papers and Rubrics
      1. Assessments are an integral part of the learning process and should therefore be planned with appropriate care and rigour. The process for the setting of assessments is outlined below. The Director of Education should inform the Head of Discipline and Associate Dean of Education of any issues or obstacles to meeting processes or timescales; at the end of the process, any outstanding issues will be reported to the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College.
      2. For each module, a member of academic staff should be nominated as a Module Moderator. The nominated staff member should be from the same discipline as the module to which they have been assigned, but not involved in teaching on this module; the Module Moderator will be required to review all examination papers and instructions for coursework associated with this module.
      1. Role of External Examiners
        1. External Examiners must approve the methods of assessment, assessment criteria and feedback processes for all summative assessments including the form and content of prepared examination question papers. The External must also be satisfied as to the form and required content of any coursework which contributes to the final assessment.
    7. Instructions for Setting Assessments
      1. Instructions for Assignments; Assessments not undertaken under controlled and timed conditions e.g. essays, fieldwork, lab reports etc.
        1. All instructions for assignments must be reviewed by the Module Moderator. Normally, improvements/revisions to the instructions for assignments will be finalised and agreed with the Module Convenor/ Leader in advance of the term in which the module is taught. However, in some modules, the nature of the assignment requires co-construction by both staff and students; in such cases, the instructions will be finalised and agreed by a date agreed with the Director of Education.
        2. All assignment deadlines set should be reviewed by the Director of Education before publication to students to check for potential overlap between modules and review of assessment deadline bunching within a programme or cohort.
      2. Instructions for Examinations: Assessments undertaken under controlled and timed conditions e.g. exams, in-class tests, presentations etc.
        1. All draft examination papers (including full rubric) should be completed no later than twelve weeks before the start of the relevant exam period.
        2. All draft examination papers must be reviewed by the Module Moderator and improvements/revisions agreed with the Module Convenor/ Leader. An example of good practice is the use of an internal ‘scrutiny group’ to review the content of the draft papers and the associated process ahead of submission to the External Examiner.
        3. Once agreed internally, draft examination papers must be sent to the External Examiner for review and approval.
        4. Following any required revisions determined by the External Examiner, examination papers must be returned to the Module Convenor/ Leader for further amendments if required.
        5. Where any revised papers (with rubric) include any complex calculations or data analysis, these papers must be subject to appropriate checking by an impartial academic colleague as a trial exercise, with a worked answer provided for assistance.
        6. Once the Module Convenor/ Leader is satisfied that the above checks have been appropriately completed, a PDF must be generated, checked against the original and provided in electronic form to the Exams Office no later than 6 weeks before the relevant exam period. To check that all fonts are embedded within a PDF document, please click here; Checking Embedded Fonts (PDF conversion). For those wishing to embed fonts, please click on the following link Embedding Fonts (PDF conversion).
        7. At the point of electronic submission to the Exams Office, the Module Convenor/Leader should indicate whether they require sight of the final printed paper to check the resolution/clarity of graphs, tables or images or to address any issues which may have been generated in the PDF conversion or printing process. Upon receiving such a request, the Exams Office will provide a sample paper for the Module Convenor/Leader to check. This sample will be as close as possible to the version that would be presented to students. Module Convenors/Leaders will be invited to check and sign off the hard-copy sample within a week of the original deadline (i.e. no more than 5 weeks before the relevant exam period).
        8. Prescribed timescales for this process for each examination period are included in Table 1 below. Failure to comply with timescales may result in further action as described in 2.7
        9. A report confirming completion of the above process is to be submitted to the Associate Dean Education of the College one week following the deadline for submission of papers to the Examinations Office. Any issues outstanding at this stage should reported by the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of College to the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Education) for action and VCEG for record.
        10. Any issues which are experienced in the exam itself must be communicated to the relevant markers.
      3. Standardisation of the format and basic layout of examination papers and rubrics throughout the University provides clarity and consistency for students and supports the Examinations Office and its staff in preparations prior to and during examination sessions. Detailed notes on the presentation and preparation of examination papers and rubrics are found in Annex A.
      4. Examination papers should be prepared and stored only on computers which have physical and software security measures that are fit for purpose, i.e., it should be beyond reasonable doubt that examination papers have been kept secure at all stages of their preparation prior to use.
      5. All examination rubrics should be available for students to view in advance of the examination.
      6. Past examination papers must be made available via the library and students must be made aware of how to access these in the library archive and via ELE.

        Supporting Information;

        Exam Setting Flow Chart
        Example Exam Setting Approval Form
        Example Module Moderator and Module Leader/ Convenor Checklist

        Table 1:
        Examination Submission Deadline  
         First draft submitted to Module Moderator No Later than 12 weeks before the relevant Exam period 
         Submission to External Examiner No Later than 8 weeks before the relevant Exam period
         Submission to Examinations Office No Later than 6 weeks before the relevant Exam period
         Approval of hard copy sample paper (if requested) No Later than 5 weeks before the relevant Exam period
    8. Accessibility
      1. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination, harassment, and victimisation on the grounds of disability. In this context, a disabled student is defined as someone with a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial effect on her or his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
      2. The Equality Act also contains the Public Sector Equality duty with which all public sector organisations must comply. This involves removing or minimising disadvantage suffered by people with a disability, and states that compliance with the duty may involve treating some people differently than others. The Equality Act 2010 continues the existing duty upon higher education institutions to make reasonable adjustments where students with a disability might otherwise be substantially disadvantaged.
      3. The University has an anticipatory duty under the Equality Act (Amendment) Order 2012, which means that consideration must be given to how assessment(s) are made accessible to students with disabilities. This consideration forms an essential part of programme and module design, and review. It is the responsibility of all staff members to ensure that their teaching and the process of assessment is accessible. Staff should be aware of their anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments to any part of the teaching for students with a disability.
      4. Adjustments and suitable adaptation to a student’s specific needs should be made in dialogue with the student. An Individual Learning Plan (ILP) will often be agreed in collaboration with AccessAbility or the Wellbeing Service and includes advice on appropriate adjustments to meet the student’s specific needs.
    9. Principles of Submission
      1. Deadlines for submission must be communicated to students; this communication should be clear, explicit and easily accessible;
      2. The consequences of late or non-submission must be made clear to students;
      3. Methods for the granting of extensions to the submission deadline for assessed work must ensure that all students are treated fairly and consistently.
    10. Late Submission of Coursework
      1. Late submission of an assessment up to two weeks beyond a submission deadline must receive a mark capped at the module pass mark unless an application for mitigation is approved. First submissions submitted later than two weeks after the deadline will receive a mark of zero. Referred coursework which is submitted beyond the submission deadline must receive a mark of zero, unless an application for mitigation is approved.
      2. Colleges must publish the University penalty for the late submission of assessed work in the relevant programme, module or College handbook.
      3. External Examiners should be informed where students’ overall marks for modules have been affected because of penalties applied for late submission.
      4. The scheduling of Mitigation Committees should allow for the consideration of applications for extensions to submission deadlines in advance of submission deadlines, either through scheduling ad-hoc meetings or through the delegation of such decisions.
      5. For students experiencing disabilities there may be specific requests for exceptions to the above in relation to extensions or the spreading out of deadlines. These will either be detailed within the students’ individual learning plans (ILPs) or through discussion at a Health, Wellbeing and Fitness to Study meeting.
    11. Non-submission and Non-attendance
      1. Students are expected to complete all assessments whether they are formative or summative. Failure to attend or submit a summative assessment should be accompanied by an application for mitigation with supporting evidence, in accordance with Chapter 10 - Mitigation: Deadline extensions and deferrals.
      2. For students experiencing disabilities there may be specific requests for exceptions to the above, in relation to non-submission or non-attendance. These will either be detailed within the students' individual learnings plan(s) (ILPs) or through discussion at a Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study meeting.
    12. Module Completion Timeframe and Deferral
      1. Modules must be completed by the end of the academic year following that in which they were started. Periods of interruption are not included within this timeframe.
      2. If students are prevented from completing an assessment for a module (or modules), and mitigation has been approved, then deferral may be recommended. Deferred assessment(s) should be taken at the next available opportunity in the official Referral/ Deferral assessment period. As detailed in Chapter 2, a deferred candidate should be assessed on the original syllabus, but alternative methods of assessment may be employed in certain circumstances, for example, following interruption.
      3. Where a student has successfully completed individual assessment components in a module, these marks will be retained and combined with the marks from any outstanding part(s) of the assessment process for which they have been deferred. If outstanding components remain at the end of the maximum module period (see 2.13.1), students may lose their right to referral and those outstanding components will be given a mark of 0.

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