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The Oxford University English Faculty has released an email to all its finalist students updating them on changes to coursework for Hilary term. The email explains that the deadline for the Shakespeare paper has been pushed back and that students will be able to explain issues they had in finding material to examiners.
The email was sent to students this afternoon by the English Faculty’s Director of Teaching, Rebecca Beasley. It states that the Shakespeare paper will have its portfolio deadline pushed back while the Material Text paper will not.
“FHS Course I Paper 1 /Course II Paper 5b: Shakespeare: the deadline for submission of the portfolio is extended until noon on Friday 29 January, in order to provide additional time to access online resources in place of the physical resources you may have been planning to draw on during the first week of term.”
“Course II Paper 5a The Material Text: the deadline for submission of the portfolio remains 11 February, with topics released on 25 January.”
Professor Beasley defends the decision not to extend the Material Text deadline writing: “I know that some of you would have preferred a more substantial extension. The rationale for not extending the deadline further is that to do so would run into the time you have to work on your dissertation, and it would also create particular problems for joint schools students.”
“I assure you that we are not sticking to deadlines for their own sake, nor disregarding the increased difficulties of completing assessment without physical access to library resources. But extending deadlines has knock-on effects on the completion of the rest of your papers, and on revision. While some of you may feel right now that your preference would be to have substantial extensions or some papers dropped, this would not suit all students and would introduce new inequalities. We aim to avoid changing deadlines and the examination timetable, so as to ensure that you are able to graduate on time and take the next steps in your careers.”
The email also promises that students will not be “penalised for the omission of specific referencing information, such as page-numbers, which resulted from loss of library access.”
The email further reveals that finalist students will be given the opportunity to explain incomplete references or other mitigating factors because of a lack of resources. However, the methods through which this explanation can be made differ between the Shakespeare paper and the Material Text paper.
Concerning the Shakespeare paper, the email states:
“If, after being directed to leave Oxford in early December and not being permitted to return in January, you are unable to access material which you had planned to consult for your submission, you may include a short statement with your essay on the form provided (maximum 200 words). This should explain as precisely as possible what material you were unable to consult or re-read, and what effect this has had on the work you have submitted. The Faculty will provide you with this form next week.”
In contrast, students doing the Material Text paper will have to explain mitigating circumstances through a MCE (Mitigating Circumstances Notice to Examiners).
“If you have encountered particularly acute problems of any kind that have affected your work (coursework or exams), you can submit a Mitigating Circumstances Notice to Examiners.”
“The MCE process is currently being revised in light of the lockdown, and a new process to suit the current circumstances will be available shortly. The students taking The Material Text will be able to use the new process, rather than the 200 word statement the University’s Education Committee has allowed us to deploy for the earlier Shakespeare submission.”
The email concludes by reassuring students that the faculty and libraries are up to the task of dealing with the oncoming term.
“Finally, most of you will be working on your dissertation this term, and I know that you are very concerned about doing that without physical access to library resources… However, the libraries and the Faculty are able to build on their experience from last year, when we supported our Master’s students in the successful completion of their dissertations during the first lockdown. All the libraries are continuing to offer remote services, including the ‘scan and deliver service’. All the other remote services (including eBooks and eJournals, Live Chat, and ORLO/ORA/Digital.Bodleian) will also continue to be offered. We will once again have access to the Hathi Trust ETAS (Emergency Temporary Access Service), and your librarians are currently reviewing which additional eBook packages would be most helpful to buy.”
Image Credit: Karen Blakeman