Classics mods replaced with prelims

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The Classics faculty have announced in an email to students today that the exams taken by second-year Classicists at the end of Hilary term will be replaced with prelims. The number of papers will be reduced, and the impossibility of remote invigilation has made translation from set text “inappropriate”.

The decision comes after an open letter from students argued that given the current lockdown restrictions, and teaching for Hilary term moving online, that students being made to take the examinations would have been unfair. A formal announcement from the University is expected to be made tomorrow.

The email to classics students highlights that this policy is inline with decisions taken during the first lockdown.

“The decision to replace Mods with a new Prelims examination is in line with the University’s general policy on First Public Exams this academic year… the University thinks it will be to your benefit to have marks available from formal public examinations when the rest of those sitting Finals in 2023 will have them (official marks may prove useful for job and postgraduate applications). An important difference from the government’s decision to cancel A-levels and GCSEs is that we are able to assess closely and take account of the impact that the pandemic has had on your studies, and that the examiners can assess mitigating circumstances (including problems caused by limited resources) at an individual level too through the standard university procedures.”

The decision to create a modified Classics Prelim was made because the alterations to exams that had to be made in order to hold them remotely changed the content and structure of the exams dramatically from what students had been told to expect of their Mods.

“Any remaining examination was accordingly to be substantially cut in size to achieve a new balance, and it was felt that it would be inappropriate to give Honour Mods classifications for an exam so substantially different from the one that you were expecting, and not testing some of the crucial skills developed by the Mods syllabus. Hence the decision to set a modified Classics Prelim.”

The email also acknowledges other concerns from students, including those of mental health during an online term and a lack of suitable study space at home, and highlights that students who do not perform as expected will have the opportunity to resit at the end of Trinity term if necessary. Students will also be able to appeal to examiners with any factors that have affected their performance, alongside considerations that will be made due to the lockdown.

The email ends:

“We hope that what has been arrived at strikes the right balance between providing you with proper assessment and recognition at the end of five terms of hard work, not overloading either students or tutors in this extraordinary term, and at the same time retaining some structure to it without the need to invent a new system completely from scratch.”


Image Credit: Iona Shen


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