ARC Guide to Corona Virus - Academic Assessment

Academic Assessments

Updated 7 April 2020

Does Brunel have a safety net or no-detriment policy in place for students?

Yes.

Brunel have designed it to be fair to all students, including those students on programmes accredited by professional bodies and applies irrespective of how many assessment credits (and with what weighting) you have accumulated this academic year.

Brunel’s safety net or no-detriment policy:

  • YOU can decide whether YOU take some or all their exams in April/May or in August, without needing to submit Extenuating Circumstances.
  • Brunel are NOT asking students to let them know of your intentions in advance (as some other institutions are), thereby giving YOU flexibility in deciding what is right for you without any pressure.
  • If you sit your exams and fail then you will automatically be given a second, uncapped attempt in August 2020.
  • Not all institutions are offering another opportunity for students to complete their assessments in August, but we believe it is important to allow students another opportunity.

Enhanced scrutiny of individual students’ performance by Exam Boards, which include External Examiners (from another university) and Vice-Chancellor’s representatives.

This will allow Brunel to determine if performance in the exams and other assessments submitted after 15 March is out of line with assessments completed up until that time, and help identify students who may not have failed, but performed worse than expected.

The enhanced scrutiny of individual students’ performance by Exam Boards will help Brunel identify students who may not have failed, but performed worse than expected, e.g. below their grade average.

Exam Boards will use their experience and the powers granted them under Brunel’s Emergency Regulations to support students to complete or progress by, for example, giving students a further uncapped attempt (e.g. for a 100% exam assessment) or discounting the mark entirely (e.g. for a 20% exam assessment).

Why does Brunel’s safety net/no-detriment policy differ from other institutions?

The simple reason is that institutions are organised and operate differently, which means that any safety net will have to be tailored to each institution’s circumstances.

For example, Brunel has a single set of regulations that applies to all students, and therefore Brunel’s safety net needs to be fair to all of the student body  irrespective of whether they are on programmes accredited by professional bodies, or how many assessment credits (and with what weighting) they have accumulated so far this academic year.

Universities also organise their term dates, their programmes, modules and assessments according to what suits them best: some universities will have formal mid-year exams which means that students at those institutions will have completed half their assessment credits for the year in January; some, like Brunel, deliver their teaching over two long terms and run their exams in April/May; while some teach over three shorter terms and have a later summer exam period than Brunel.

What happens if I cannot take my exam in April/May?

You can decide whether they take some or all their exams in April/May or in August, without needing to submit Extenuating Circumstances.

Brunel are not asking students to let them know your intentions in advance (as some other institutions are), thereby giving you flexibility in deciding what is right for you without any pressure.

What happens if I fail my exam?

If you sit your exams and fail you will automatically be given a second, uncapped attempt in August.

Not all institutions are offering another opportunity for students to complete their assessments in August, but we believe it is important to allow students another opportunity.

I am worried I won’t do as well as I would normally do in my exams

The enhanced scrutiny of individual students’ performance by Exam Boards will help us identify students who may not have failed, but performed worse than expected, e.g. below their grade average, Exam Boards will use their experience and the powers granted them under Brunel’s Emergency Regulations to support students to complete or progress by, for example, giving students a further uncapped attempt (e.g. for a 100% exam assessment) or discounting the mark entirely (e.g. for a 20% exam assessment).

I am graduating in June 2021 – how will the exam board look at my second year performance?

Exam Boards in June 2021 will look at your performance across the whole of your programme and be aware of the challenges you were facing during your second year.

The academic performance of those graduating in summer 2021 will be scrutinised equally carefully to those completing their studies this summer, to ensure that the challenging and exceptional circumstances we are currently experiencing are appropriately accounted for. 

Why has Brunel not cancelled all exams?

Brunel University’s regulator expects us to continue with teaching and assessment so that students can progress or complete their studies as they were expecting to.

However, Brunel recognise that this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, which is why we have put in a place a safety net/no-detriment policy for our students so that they are not disadvantaged.

Why do I have different exam lengths to other students?

The lengths of the exams vary by discipline and module, as it is determined by the questions and expectations of students in answering those questions

This means that there is no uniform exam format or exam length for students. For example, Brunel have exams that give students 15 min reading time followed by a 30 min viva or answering 100 questions in 90 minutes; others will be 3 hr exams with additional time for uploading answers. In all cases the time allowed is based on what is expected of the students.

All of your examinations will be conducted remotely, and as a consequence the original exam format may have been modified to make them suitable for open-book or time-limited assessments.

You will by now have received your examination timetable, and so you are aware of when any exams you have will take place.

Final Year Students

  • If you will be progressing into the final year.
  • If you are completing your studies (final year).
  • If you are on an Integrated Masters.

Details of all the examinations are in the exam timetable that was released on Friday 27th March 2020.

https://intra.brunel.ac.uk/Exam.aspx

There may be some exceptions (mainly related to accreditation requirements).

Foundation and first-year undergraduate students

  • Foundation students will take no final examinations.
  • First-year undergraduate will take no final examinations.

Progression decisions will be based on assessments already completed.

MSc/MA master’s students

MSc/MA master’s students with some exceptions, will defer their exams until the August exam period, and start (or continue) with their dissertations. 

Open-book and time-limited assessments

  • Your exam questions will be released on WISEflow at the specified time,
  • This is also where you will upload and submit your answers.

The University are currently working on specific guidance for you, which will support you in successfully completing your remote examinations.

This will also have details of who to contact should you experience any problems. We will share this information with you after Easter.  

If you cannot sit the exams

The University appreciate and know that some of you will have:

  • Difficult family circumstances.
  • Technology that may be challenging.

You may simply not feel prepared to sit the exams or complete other forms of final, summative assessments.

If you are unable to sit your exams in April/May 2020 then you will not be penalised. There will be another opportunity in August 2020.

There is no need for you to submit extenuating circumstances or provide evidence.

 

If you sit the exams and fail 

If you sit your exams in April/May 2020 and fail one or more of these assessments, you will be able to have an uncapped second attempt in August 2020.

August Examination Period

The hope is that Brunel will be back to normal and able to deliver on-campus examinations in August 2020 but this is not guaranteed and will need to be considered nearer the time.

ALL students doing a particular exam will start their assessment at the same time. If you are located abroad the time difference may mean you have to sit the exam early or late in the day.

If you have any concerns please contact your Head of Division/Department in the first instance.