Law Faculty Confirms Online Open-Book Final Exams

Image Description: An image of the front of the Oxford Exam Schools, taken from the High Street. 

The Law Faculty has confirmed that finals for the next academic year will take place online, and will be open book. This comes after the Politics Department confirmed to students sitting finals in 2022 that all exams will be sat in Exams Schools and closed book.

In an email sent to law students on Friday 30th July, the Department stated that while it could not yet confirm details, students sitting law finals papers in 2022 would be sitting them virtually, and that they would be open-book. This is with the exception of the small number of papers using extended essays as the form of assessment.

The email read:

“We cannot give you all the details as yet, because we’re still waiting for the Social Sciences Division and the University’s Education Committee to approve them, but we can confirm that the examinations will be online and open book (except for the small number of FHS options using extended essays as the form of assessment). Further details (time-period, word-limits etc) will be communicated to you as soon as they have been finalised with the Division and Education Committee; we don’t have a definitive date for that as yet but it will be before the start of Michaelmas Term.”

However, in an email sent to all PPE and History and Politics students entering their final year earlier this month, the politics department confirmed that their plan for Michaelmas term onwards would be to return to normal for all teaching and examinations, including finals papers. Finals papers are planned to be sat in-person and handwritten. The email acknowledges that this is subject to any future changes in government guidance and from the central university authorities.

One PPE student entering their final year criticised the diverging policies between departments.

“‘The university should be standardising exams across, if not all, then at least similar subjects. Why should Law students have open book finals, with access to all their notes, while Politics students have to learn those things by rote. And equally why should Law students have a harsher grading system owing to their online open book exams than Politics simply because they’re in person. The university should be standardising this process and not allowing unnecessary divides and complications.”

A University spokesperson emphasised that the departments were planning to use a variety of different assessment types over the next year, and that there would be plans in place for if government restrictions were re-introduced.

“During the pandemic, the University embraced remote forms of assessment, and now has a dedicated e-assessment platform, Inspera, which has been used by approximately 12,000 students sitting more than 40,000 individual examinations across the University.”

“University-wide, departments are in the process of reflecting on the assessment experience of this year and considering their assessment plans for next year; this work includes a series of student-surveys and focus groups. Assessments in the 2021/22 academic year are likely to involve a variety of different assessment types from coursework submissions and online open book exams to in-person examinations. These will include, where necessary, plans for alternative assessment if government restrictions are re-introduced. “

“We will provide more information as soon as it is possible; and course-specific plans for student assessment in the next academic year will be communicated to students at the start of Michaelmas term (or the start of the course if earlier).”

Image Credit: skittledog via Creative Commons