DDH but no safety net: University plans for Trinity term exams

Image Description: The entrance of Examination Schools

Following a Q&A session on Tuesday evening, the University has updated its FAQ page with new information about the options available for students sitting exams in Trinity term.

Crucially, students sitting FHS will not have a ‘safety net’ as was used in last year’s exam period, with the University saying that:

‘Unlike in Trinity term 2020, there are no plans for a safety net policy to be implemented for those completing award-bearing courses in the 2020/21 academic year. While acknowledging the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, the circumstances in 2020/21 are significantly different from at the end of the last academic year.

‘Both teaching and assessment are being structured and delivered this year with social distancing and other pandemic restrictions in mind, and assessments will take place in a more stable setting with more support in place. The usual mitigating circumstances procedures continue to be available to all students, and Exam Boards are able to take a range of actions under the Mitigating Circumstances Notices to Examiners policy, both for individual students, and for whole cohorts.

‘Of course, if the pandemic and associated restrictions worsen significantly in the coming months, we may reconsider what mitigations are needed.’

However, students will still be able to opt for declared awards this year, if it proves impossible for them to sit their exams or suspend studies until the following year.

‘Declared awards were introduced in 2020, to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. They will still be available for students in their final year in 2020/21, including students on one-year Masters who started in Michaelmas term 2020.

‘Like last year, the declared outcome is intended only for those students who cannot complete their assessments and who are unable to suspend and return the following year. If you have concerns about your ability to complete your assessments this year, you should talk to your college or department about the options available to you. As in previous years, you can submit a mitigating circumstances notice to examiners if you have particular issues with completing assessments, which you wish to bring to the attention of examiners, both for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related reasons.’

The University has now made a number of decisions regarding Trinity term FHS exams. English students were informed over the summer vacation that the vast majority of their papers would be taken online, in both Preliminary and FHS exams. Most students should now have been told which of their exams, if any, will be conducted in person: some exams are planned to run from 0th until 11th week of Trinity term, to ensure that in-person exams can be conducted with all social distancing measures in place.

The University will also now allow students to opt for a Declared award indefinitely, where it is the case that ‘a student has been unable to complete their summative assessments for legitimate reasons, and the examination board is satisfied that they would have been likely to have obtained an Honours degree (or a pass degree for the other awards) had they been able to complete their assessments’. Students will be able to apply for DDH or DDM (declared to have deserved Masters) status at any point in Trinity term.

Image Credit: Steve Cadman