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Supporting Online Assessments

A PDF Version of the below guidance is available: Coronavirus Guidance for Assessments for Academics.

Assessment period two will take place between 27th April and 26th June, extending from 5 weeks to 9 weeks.

The College has said it is imperative to reduce assessment load for students and consequent burden for staff by reducing the number of assessments that students have to complete (and use the extension provided by the new assessment period for any current coursework deadlines as appropriate). Exams already set by the Exams Office can be removed but not rescheduled.

This guide is intended to provide a best practice approach to designing assessment in a time of crisis in as rigorous yet pragmatic way as possible. With thanks to Prof Kay Sambell and Prof Sally Brown for some of the recommendations.

The College has recommended a combination of two main approaches:

  1. Reducing assessment load by taking a programme level approach
  2. Choose an alternative online format for the assessments you need to continue to run

Regulations and Guidance

The emergency regulations will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Emergency regulation G4.9 states:

"In the event that marking cannot be completed in accordance with the marking model assigned to a module, an Assessment Board may, with the approval of the Chair or Deputy Chair of Academic Standard Sub-Committee, use an alternative marking model. This may include relaxing some of the rules contained within the marking models."

The Chair of the Academic Standards Sub-Committee has approved the following approach:

  • For dissertations - double marking;
  • For all other work - single marking with retrospective sampling of at least 10%

There is no need to request approval if you wish to apply one of these alternative marking models. However, please ensure that you keep a clear audit trail of any changes made to marking models, the reasons for them, and the committee in which it was discussed and agreed, as a report will need to be made to ASSC later in the year. The College must able to demonstrate appropriate QA, defend appeals around our process and satisfy the OIA that we are maintaining standards.For this reason, it will not be possible to apply single marking without retrospective sampling.

Each faculty is approaching alternative assessments in appropriate ways to support the unique requirements of local assessments. For faculty specific guidance and support on the approaches and technologies being used please contact your Local TEL/Digital Education Colleague.

  • If you have an specific requests relating to appropriate approaches to alternative assessment, please contact

  • The King's Online Educators online community (via Microsoft Teams) has been set up by academic colleagues to exchange knowledge and expertise on supporting teaching, learning and assessment online.

  • Disability Support Team can provide guidance on Personal Assessment Arrangement or disability related challenges to alternative assessments.


Reducing assessment load by taking a programme level approach

  • What is core/compulsory and non-core? What is required for students to meet the programme outcomes? Core/compulsory modules at all levels should still be assessed. All level 6 and 7 (1 year PGT) modules should be assessed, although could be merged in some cases (see below).
  • All assessment required by Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) where 100% of learning outcomes must be met should be assessed. Your respective PSRBs should be providing information about how to meet requirements in this time of crisis.
  • Non-core for non-final year students can be either deferred until academic year 20/21 or assessed through a merged synoptic assessment (see below).

For non-core/electives, this involves taking a view of the core programme learning outcomes rather than only the coverage of all modular content.

Although all modules and knowledge are important to the programme, at this time, it may be necessary to assess ONLY the core competencies, skills and knowledge your students need to demonstrate to successfully complete their year for progression. For example, could students have passed your programme with a condoned fail in a particular module? If so, could the assessment for that module be waived, given a reduced or alternative assessment, or merged with another module assessment?. 

  • Programme teams can map their PLOs against the module outcomes of non-core modules for the year(s).

































  1. Which modules are assessing the majority of your learning outcomes? In the example above, Module 2 should be assessed
  2. Where are several modules assessing the same PLO? Could you choose one module to fully assess, or combine the assessments in a reduced format? Can you combine Modules 1 and 3?
  3. What PLOs will be covered in subsequent years (non-final years only)? Can these learning outcomes be deferred to be assessed then? PSRBs should be sought for guidance on simulations/clinical assessments etc.
  • If a substantial amount of assessment has been completed already for a module which is weighted highly, you should consider the necessity of any outstanding assessment. Although it is unlikely that this is the case in exam period two, the necessity of conducting any assessment which is not heavily weighted towards the final module outcomes should be considered.   

It may be possible to do this in exceptional cases by using grades achieved for continuous summative assessment or mid-terms if they amount to a weighting of over 60% of the module. However, using mocks, seminar participation or indicative formative assessment is likely to be unfair on students who did not know their formative efforts would be counted as summative. Aggregating grades for previous formative assessment will cause administrative burden on you and PS staff.

“An assessment that encourages students to combine elements of their learning from different parts of a programme and to show their accumulated knowledge and understanding of a topic or subject area.  A synoptic assessment normally enables students to show their ability to integrate and apply their skills, knowledge and understanding with breadth and depth in the subject. It can help to test a student’s capability of applying the knowledge and understanding gained in one part of a programme to increase their understanding in other parts of the programme, or across the programme as a whole.” (QAA Code of Practice, 2016).

Synoptic exams are already common in professional accreditation in such as law and accounting.

Synoptic assessments are not ideal under the current circumstances as they require careful planning and cooperation across modules. However, a reduced synoptic can be designed in a way that allows students to demonstrate core learning outcomes in the following ways:

  • A piece of coursework that requires integration of skills from a number of modules, for example data sets, problems or case studies for analysis.
  • A merged exam format on modules where the content is similar enough to cohere. If this will take place under timed conditions, this would mean reducing the content of both if in order NOT to increase the amount of time students need to complete.
  • A portfolio including pieces of work that have already been completed and any other assignment you might set now. Students could be asked to produce an overall introduction to the work which reflects on their learning across a programme or a number of modules. This allows students time to revise and improve any formative work they have completed.
  • A reflective essay (or to camera video recording of a specified number of words. Students could be asked to produce a detailed written reflection on their learning, identifying core learning with key examples from the course and beyond. This can be done on a pass/fail basis or graded (although if graded, criteria will need to be decided).

In most cases, detailed messaging should be communicated by faculties by 2 April ideally, or shortly thereafter, containing specific details regarding the assessments and their timing.  We cannot rule out needing further changes as circumstances evolve, or as any unanticipated issues come to light, and it is important to accept that information might not be definitive at this stage. Nevertheless, faculties are asked to try to avoid sending out tentative information too quickly, which can cause greater confusion when retracted.

You might want to offer a forum on KEATS along with a video recorded briefing to answer questions from students and ensure they understand the new arrangements. Any information to students should be available in ONE place as students can easily become overwhelmed by email traffic and crucial information can get lost.

Students should be reassured that faculties are doing all they can but that many of us and our student body have been affected, and therefore we have to adopt the most pragmatic and fair policy for all.

There will be study and assessment guides coming online very soon, coordinated by King’s Academy, King’s Online and Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning on managing types of assessment, well-being and online learning. 


Choose an alternative online format for the assessments you need to continue to run

  • Avoid choosing a replacement that requires a lot of extra support for students to be able to complete. It is important to weigh up the support students will need in using the technology of a replacement online (e.g. a narrated PPT to replace an in-class presentation) vs the academic support they will need to understand and complete an entirely new assessment type (e.g. a written report to replace a debate).
  • Avoid choosing a replacement that requires additional skills and knowledge to be demonstrated on the part of the students. Where this is necessary (e.g. a presentation to be assessed via a written report), you must take this into consideration at the marking stage and only assess the original criteria. Where writing replaces oral assessment, students’ ability to structure or grammatical errors should be ignored.
  • Consider the logistics of group work/projects. Where students have already put time into a group project, there may be scope to discuss with students on the module whether they are able to continue remotely with this, or whether they would rather take their existing work and produce an individual assignment. In the former case, group collaboration may be able to go ahead via Zoom or Teams. Students need to be aware of when their team members are working in different countries with time zones and lack of access to certain apps. In the latter case, you should take into account when marking that there may be similarity between the work of those students.  We would advise that group presentations should now be assessed individually on the aspect of the work they had been assigned as it would be disadvantageous for some students to require them to perform live or synchronously as a group. Elements of group work can still be assessed by asking student to write a short reflection or complete a form on their contribution and working as a team.  

To avoid significant burden to you or your students, you should consider asking students to submit only a outline/draft/plan or a small portion of the task (a few paragraphs in answer to a sample exam question, a few paragraphs of a reflection or a 5-minute recording).

Feedback can be provided though cohort feedback (providing generic feedback based on a small sample of the tasks) or providing a model answer with comments. If students can have an opportunity to apply the criteria to a range of exemplars, that would be optimal, but the need to source examples of new format may make this impractical.

Peer feedback tools could be used.  For example, a KEATS Forum (PDF Guide) could be used for discussion or Turnitin PeerMark (PDF Guide) set up for students to provide feedback on each others work.

Options for alternatives and points to consider

  • A take home exam within a 24 hour window.
  • Change the format and nature of questions to make them more open ended, and avoid questions which require only knowledge recall or one correct answer. E.g.  multiple longer questions are based around a case study.
  • Don’t be tempted to increase the amount of content. Students should be able to complete the assignment in the same amount of time they would have had in an exam
  • Consider how students will show workings for some questions (e.g. screenshots) and the corresponding file size for submission.
  • Set a word count and where necessary provide a template for students as to how you want them to structure their answers.

Where no alternative to a timed exam is possible

  • A 2-3 hour timed assessment can be taken within a 24-hour window, where the clock starts at the moment the student opens the assessment.

Provisions for PAAs

  • Allow additional time to PAA students for timed assessments in line with their individual circumstances, including timed assessments within a 24-hour window where the clock starts at the point the student commences the assessment (option a above). Do not normally allow extra time to PAA students for students taking place over a 24-hour window or longer. 

Where to find guidance

Options for alternatives and points to consider

  • We strongly advise against synchronous presentations due to students being in different time zones and potential issues with student equipment and connectivity.
  • Students can submit a narrative recorded presentation using PPT or another software tool. Criteria that requires elements of delivery such as eye contact etc should be discarded.
  • Posters can be submitted via Turnitin or other software.

Where to find guidance

Options for alternatives and points to consider

  • Students can describe in writing or short video how they would set up the experiment design, data collection, and analysis procedures.
  • Students can be given past data sets and asked how they would analyse them. Aspects of lab safety can be deferred to academic year 20/21, assumed to have been covered in previous labs throughout the year if that data is available, OR an MCQ about lab safety can be set up on KEATS.
  • There are online lab simulations for a range of disciplines. Students could be asked to watch and reflect on these activities. However, this is unlikely to meet all learning outcomes.

Where to find guidance

Options for alternatives and points to consider

  • These could be undertaken via Teams (as indeed they already are on occasions when Doctoral examinations are undertaken transnationally). Consideration must be taken into account for the availability of assessors and deferred where considered appropriate.

Where to find guidance

Options for alternatives and points to consider

  • Students can record their performance for music, etc. The audience element can be simulated if enough students can be organised to attend a synchronous remote performance time. These can be accompanied by written commentary from students.
  • Issues of comfortable space, lighting and sound may of course be barriers to this.

Where to find guidance

Options for alternatives and points to consider

  • Students may be able to video themselves performing specific tasks, although this is unlikely to be viewed as valid.    
  • Logbooks might be used from previous observations BUT seek guidance from PSRBs on these issues.

Where to find guidance

Please note, for PGR – please see the link for information from the Centre for Doctoral Studies

Options for alternatives and points to consider

For non-empirical research, students would be able to continue as normal with an appropriate extension. Ensure that students have access to articles etc through Shibboleth accounts to avoid paywalls.

For empirical research:

  • Where students have already obtained data, this can be used as normal.
  • Where students have not yet collected data, qualitative research such as interview/focus groups, surveys etc could be arranged remotely with appropriate extensions.  
  • Open data sets can be provided from previous work online, or from the supervisor’s own work for students to interpret. It will be necessary to advise your students on a case by case basis and to manage disappointment for students who may have to alter the scope of their work to be able to proceed with their dissertation.  
  • Students may be able to video themselves performing specific tasks, although this is unlikely to be viewed as valid.
  • Logbooks might be used from previous observations BUT seek guidance from PSRBs on these issues.


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Faculty Specific Guidance

For faculty specific guidance on these recommendations please see the information below. 

Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 
Dickson Poon School of Law
Life Sciences and Medicine
Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care



King's Coronavirus Guidance

Please visit the University's guidance pages for the latest information.