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Copy of Term 3 2020 - postgraduate taught students

An update on postgraduate taught assessment - 31 March

Some of you have asked whether the safety net will apply to PGT students.

Following last week’s announcement about the safety net being applied to the end-of-year average for undergraduate students in their intermediate or final years of study, some staff and postgraduate taught (PGT) students have understandably asked whether this applies for PGT courses too and we want to provide clarification.

Whilst other arrangements to support you in the current difficult situations are being made, the safety net policy can regrettably not apply to PGT courses. Unlike the position of undergraduate students, where we have multiple years of marks, there will typically be too few marks and too little other data available on PGT students’ progress to date. Most of our PGT courses span only twelve months and we have several start dates through the academic year. This makes it impractical to gather the data we would need to make any reliable benchmarking possible for PGT students in the same way as we will be able to do for undergraduates.

PGT degree outcomes rely to a considerable extent on a student’s ability to produce a substantial dissertation or project. Therefore, the overall result of their degree cannot be determined before this final piece of work is complete. As most of you are only just embarking on their dissertation or project at this point in the year, applying the safety net policy in the same way would not work.

However, we recognise that Covid-19 is impacting just as much on you as on other students, and we have asked your departments to make full use of the quality assurance and academic support mechanisms available to be supportive to you. These include the enhanced Mitigating Circumstances procedure, extensions to existing assessment deadlines, use of scaling where appropriate for cohort module marks, and increased monitoring of outcomes from Boards of Examiners through a sub-group of Senate and a new independent Chief External Examiner. We are confident that these measures will enable us to make any necessary adjustments in recognition of the challenging circumstances you may face directly or indirectly as a result of Covid-19. It is important therefore that if Covid-19 results in challenging circumstances for you, you raise these with your Department.

We hope this clarifies the situation and we will stay in touch with your Departments to support their efforts where we can, with your interest in mind.

PGT Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching, learning and assessment will continue to take place online in Term 3. This includes degree apprenticeships. No on-campus teaching or dissertation/project/lab research will take place until the start of the next academic year.

You may find that where some teaching is not essential for achieving course-level learning outcomes your department may choose not to go ahead with that activity, particularly where there is a reduction in the availability of staff to teach.

We have implemented an automatic, 2-week extension for all coursework that is currently in progress. That means that for those of you that were set work to complete over the Easter vacation, or in Term 3, you will automatically receive an additional 2-weeks to complete this.

Any exams that you were expecting to take in Term 3 will now be replaced by an alternative assessment, such as coursework, or online assessment.

What will your assessments look like?

You will receive guidance on how to perform effectively and apply your learning, before you take the assessments. Your exam will be presented in the form of either an online assignment, an open book assessment, a multiple choice questions test or a spoken test. Decisions are currently being made by your departments to ensure your learning outcomes are appropriately tested. You will not be assessed on anything that you have not been taught.

In place of exams there are a range of forms of assessment in which you may be asked to engage. We expect that most exams will be replaced by an open book assessment whereby you hand in your work online after a given period of time. That can be 2 or 3 hours, 24 hours or longer depending on the decision your department takes on how best to assess you. Shorter open book assessments will require you to stay logged onto the online system for the duration, but in other cases you will be able to work both on and offline. For open book assessments we are making arrangements so that you can include pictures, mathematical notations, graphs or similar if these are expected for the assessment.

Other approaches to assessment may include:

  • an online assignment which will be similar to the kind of assignments you already know, which will be handed in online
  • an online Multiple Choice Questions test in which you would be presented with a series of questions and answer options
  • a spoken test in which you would be asked to record yourself answering questions or commenting on statements using your mobile phone, laptop microphone or headset to record your responses.

Your department may also use other types of assessment.

As always, your work must be your own, and mechanisms are being put in place to ensure this is adhered to.

If your exams were centrally timetabled, the online tools we will be using are Moodle, (MyWBS), Tabula, Questionmark Perception and Teams. In other cases, your department will advise.