The principles that inform our approach to assessment in spring/summer 2020 are as follows:
- Our priority is the wellbeing of both students and staff, and an approach which offers fairness and equity across the university.
- We are committed to the maintenance of academic standards and the quality of our students’ education, as well as the quality of the degrees and professional training they will take from King’s.
- We will ensure that we make all assessments inclusive and fair for all students, and introduce greater flexibility, progression arrangements, and enhanced mitigation.
- We will provide as much academic continuity as possible. We have heard from many students that the opportunity to continue productive work and future-focused tasks brings an element of routine and structure contributing positively to their mental health and wellbeing.
- We will strive to provide opportunities for students to continue their studies and complete the academic year, and we seek to support all students to progress or graduate as planned.
In order to allow for greater flexibility, the standard assessment period 2 ran for nine weeks, from 27 April 2020 to 26 June 2020.
Most assessment boards will convene between 20-24 July 2020, and the standard assessment period 3 will run from 24 August–4 September.
Some faculties may already work to different assessment timetables, and they will communicate with students directly about specific arrangements.
Across faculties, assessment formats have been altered to allow students to complete them remotely. This has included, where appropriate and justified, replacing some unseen, timed exams with open-book exams, or alternative forms of coursework.
Departments have also worked to consolidate and reduce the overall volume of assessments where the learning outcomes for the year or programme can be demonstrated to have been met.
All assessment plans have been tailored to avoid any disadvantage to students arising from their geographical location and time zone. Arrangements for Personalised Assessment Arrangement (PAA) students have been preserved.
Assessments for assessment period 3 will follow a similar format to those completed in assessment period 2.
We strongly encouraged students wherever possible to take assessments in period 2 but understood that there may have been a range of good reasons as to why they are unable to do so or feel unprepared to do so.
Where this is the case, students had the option to defer some or all of their assessments to period 3, or the next assessment opportunity where this may vary in specific faculties.
If students knew in advance that they had circumstances relating to COVID-19 that mean they needed to defer one or a number of individual assessments, or if they wished to opt out of period 2 and defer all assessments to period 3, they should have submitted a deferral request, stating the reason for the request.
Taking the decision to interrupt studies
Having opted to defer assessments from period 2, if a student is still unable to complete their assessments in period 3, they have the option to interrupt their studies and take their assessments in the next academic year 2021/22.
Taking the option to interrupt is a big decision that will affect a student’s progression and graduation. This may have implications for career progression or for professional recognition where the programme is regulated by a Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body (PSRB). It may also have visa implications.
The decision to interrupt studies should only be taken after seeking advice and considering the implications carefully. If a student is considering doing this, they need to speak to the programme director, personal tutor and/or other advice services to discuss whether ways can be found to enable them to take their assessments in periods 2 or 3.
Please take time the time to read the detailed information on the assessment Q&A carefully before making any decisions to defer or interrupt.
We have introduced a streamlined process for considering mitigating circumstances relating to COVID-19. Students are required to provide details of the reason for the request but are not required to supply evidence. Students should use this process where they experience unexpected difficulty in undertaking or completing their assessments due to COVID-19-related issues.
Experiencing technology issues when you are trying to complete your assessments can be very distressing. Please take the time to check that you can access King’s online systems before the date of your assessments.
Our priority is to understand student’s individual circumstances and find ways to help wherever possible. We may not be able to resolve everything to create an appropriate working condition for you to focus on your assessments, or in accessing the technology and other facilities.
Students should let us know at the earliest opportunity, by completing the mitigating circumstances form , of any specific needs they have which they know or think will prevent them from being able to undertake their assessments properly.
Where a student’s circumstances prevent them from taking their assessments in period 3 and it is not in our power to help, they have the exceptional option to defer some or all of their assessments and take them instead in 2020/21 (or the next assessment opportunity depending on faculty). You should carefully consider this option as this may have implications (see Taking the decision to interrupt studies section above).
Please see the assessment Q&A for more information and the support available.
In addition to the above measures to support you in taking your assessments, we will put in place a ‘safety net’ policy to seek to ensure that your overall outcomes are not negatively affected by the impact of our current circumstances.
Please be aware that the application of these principles may need to be adjusted if your programme is regulated by a Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body (PSRB) or if you are studying on the King’s International Foundation Programme. Your faculties will provide further information for you where this is the case.
- Current first years, Undergraduate
For current first years, we have already announced that the grades from this year's assessments will not contribute towards the final degree classification, and only marks obtained from year two onwards will be used in the degree algorithm.
We also indicated that we would ensure that no student’s final outcome would be disadvantaged by this decision. To achieve this, we will put in place a check at the point of considering your final degree outcome, at the end of your programme. Where your weighted cumulative score (c-score) places you within one percentage point of the ‘two percent’ borderline zone between classifications, we will look to see whether your first-year marks would have made a positive difference to your overall outcome.
Where the inclusion of your first-year marks means that your c-score moves up into the borderline zone, the existing ‘two percent’ rule for managing borderline cases will then be followed in order to determine whether the higher classification should be awarded. Where the inclusion of first year marks moves your c-score over the boundary for the higher classification, this is the outcome that will be awarded.
- All other years, Undergraduate
Our aim is to make sure that a student’s overall performance for the year is not negatively affected by circumstances associated with the COVID-19 period. In determining your performance for the year, we will calculate an average based on all completed modules and summative grades available for work completed with submission deadlines up to 15 March 2020, where these can be considered sufficient to give a reasonable indication of your prior performance. Where sufficient information is not available from this year, we will seek to use other appropriate information, which may include the previous year’s grades or marks for formative work this year.
This ‘safety net’ average will then be compared with your average for the full year, to ensure that we are picking up any instances in which your outcome for the year may have been negatively affected by poorer-than-average performance in the COVID-19 period. For those modules completed after 15 March 2020, marks may be adjusted to ensure that the average for the year is at least at the level of the ‘safety net’ average. Marks for any failed modules will not be so adjusted and resit marks will continue to be capped.
Students must take all assessments set for them in order for the ‘safety net’ provisions specified above to be applied.
- Current Finalists, Undergraduate
At the point of calculating the final degree classification for our current finalists, we will put in place an additional check to make sure that your outcome has not been negatively affected by COVID-19-related circumstances.
If your c-score falls in a borderline zone between classifications, we will follow our existing policy of looking to see whether you have at least 60 credits at level 6 or above in the higher range, and if so award you the higher classification. However, an additional ‘safety net’ provision will be put in place where we will also look at whether we can find those 60 credits at level 5 or above, in a given year, and, again, award you the higher classification if this is the case.
- Postgraduate Taught
Careful consideration has been given to the development of a safety net for postgraduate taught programmes. The structure of these programmes was taken into consideration, as was the fact that the majority of programmes run for one year only, meaning that, for most students, there are no results from a previous year that can be used to calculate a safety net average.
Consequently, consideration was given to other safety net options and, following consultation with faculties, it was agreed by the Academic Standards Sub-Committee (ASSC) at its meeting on 22 April 2020 that a 2% rule would be introduced for postgraduate taught students, which mirrors the rule applied at undergraduate level. ASSC agreed that the 2% rule described below will ensure that overall outcomes are not negatively affected by the impact of the current situation. This approach provides a fair and equitable safety net for all current postgraduate taught students.
If you have an overall score within two percent of a higher classification boundary (i.e. 68/58) you will be automatically upgraded to the higher classification (Pass with Distinction/ Pass with Merit) where at least 60 credits are in the higher classification or above, in a minimum of two modules.
The ‘safety net’ described above will apply to all postgraduate taught students currently enrolled on a programme of study.
As above, students must take all assessments set for them for the safety net provisions to be applied.
- All students
For all current students, we will carry out additional checks at the point at which your final degree classification is being determined at the end of your programme, to make sure that we are satisfied that there has been no disadvantage to your final outcome from this period.
Wherever possible, departments will provide feedback within our standard timeframe, but in some cases this may not be possible.
Faculties and departments will monitor their local situations and do what they can to keep students informed, but students are asked to be understanding of the situation, and be reassured that staff will be doing their level best to return results to them as quickly as possible under what are likely to be difficult circumstances.
Standard rules will apply with the following exception for current first year students:
At level 4, if a student does not meet the minimum progression requirements but has up to 30 credits in the condonable range, the regulation that prohibits condoned fails from being included in the progression minimum will be suspended to enable the student to progress carrying up to 30 deferred credits.