History Faculty publishes assessment arrangements

The University of Oxford Faculty of History has emailed students to set out its provisions for Trinity Term assessment amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Undergraduates will be examined on three out of four remaining History Finals papers, meaning the Special Subject Gobbets paper has been cancelled.  Papers already completed – the British History take-home paper (which has been postponed for second-years), the Special Subject Extended Essay, and the Thesis – will contribute to degree classifications as normal.

The format for each assessment will be a four hour ‘open-book’ examination for each paper.  Within this time candidates will be expected to produce answers, either typed or by hand, and upload them via Weblearn.  

Exams are expected to take place in 5th and 6th weeks of Trinity Term (25th May – 6th June), and  all students will be give the same time slot to complete the exam, each within a 24-hour period.

In some Joint Schools, such as History and Politics, students will be sitting a different number of papers for the same degree.  The Faculty will account for this by classifying students based on the smallest number of papers being taken in the Joint School, with the lowest mark(s) being discarded.

To account for limited access to study resources, the rubrics of some papers will be relaxed to allow greater flexibility in choice of questions, usually meaning a free choice of questions from across the paper where there may previously have been a restriction.

In accordance with the University’s common assessment policy, published earlier today, the Faculty will insist on the signing of an ‘honour code’ by all candidates, and will operate a ‘no-detriment’ or ‘safety net’ policy.  This will seek to minimise any negative effect that the unconventional system of remotely administered exams might have on overall outcomes.

It will also give candidates who find it impossible to sit Finals the option to graduate with a ‘Declared to have Deserved Honours’ (DDH) status.  This would allow students to graduate with an Oxford BA (Hons) degree without a classification, but with an estimation (which will likely be based on tutors’ reports) of their level of achievement.

Finally, in a pointed remark, the Faculty insisted that suspension of studies, i.e. withdrawal and deferral until Trinity 2021, should only be considered as a very last resort.

Meanwhile, postgraduate historians on MSt and MPhil programmes have been granted a six-week extension to the dissertation deadline, which was originally scheduled for 8th week of Trinity.  The Faculty has accepted that dissertations may have to take a different form than originally envisaged as a result of limited access to resources.

In accordance with the ‘safety net’ policy, a postgraduate Master’s dissertation mark can now only raise and not lower the overall weighted mark on the degree.  In addition, the dissertation can be accompanied by a university-wide pro forma which will allow students to explain the impact of Covid-19 on them and their studies, both academically and personally.