2020 applicants

Alternative assessment and reassessment

This summer saw the University implement arrangements for alternative assessment to replace exams, as a means to minimise the spread and impact of COVID-19 virus while ensuring that students could complete their programmes of study. This approach will be extended to cover September reassessment and will be delivered online as alternative reassessment via FASER, Moodle and Questionmark Perception.

The reassessment period will run from 24 August to 11 September. We are committed to our students’ success and providing you with the opportunities to demonstrate your learning and to continue or complete your studies at Essex.

What is alternative reassessment?

Under our ‘No Detriment’ approach ‘alternative reassessment’ relates to any piece of work that has been set as a replacement for an exam that was due to take place as part of the reassessment period. The form of your alternative reassessment exam will vary. You can contact your school/department for more information about these assessments; what is expected of you; and how to prepare. Generally there are three types of alternative reassessment:

A take-home exam via FASER

  • Most alternative reassessments will be a take-home exam via FASER, made up of a number of questions that you can answer over a limited time period, please refer to your exam timetable.

A quiz via Moodle

  • Some alternative reassessments will be in the form of a Moodle Quiz. These tend to include multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and in some case essay style questions as well. To access, please refer to your exam timetable.

A multiple-choice questions exam via Questionmark Perception

  • A small number of alternative reassessments will be provided through Questionmark Perception and these will be 100% Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). To access, please refer to your exam timetable.

Alternative reassessments are open-book exams, which means you can refer to books and your notes to help you to write your answers. However, it is important that it is your own work so you may not get help from others. Please see the section below on academic integrity.

For many exams you will have longer to write and submit your answers than you might have experienced for exams in the previous years, for example 24 hours. You will not need, and are not expected, to spend all this time on the exam. The extended time period has been provided so that you have flexibility to plan your time and to work on your exam at a time that suits you and your circumstances. The duration also allows time for you to download the exam and to upload your answers. Your school/department will provide you with guidance on how long you might expect to spend on writing your answers/the expected length of an answer. You should normally expect to be able to write your answers in the same period of time that a standard exam would take, however, you do not need to do this all in one block of time.

The University's 'No Detriment' approach

The University’s ‘No Detriment’ approach applies to Alternative Assessment and Alternative Reassessment.

The University is committed to ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect your academic performance unfairly. We have in place an approach that responds to the exceptional circumstances we are facing while recognising the needs and requirements of individual students, modules and courses, and reflects accurately your academic performance.

We have agreed a number of temporary changes to our undergraduate and postgraduate policies to enable you to demonstrate your learning while recognising that many things may be uncertain and you might not be at your best. These changes are in direct response to the pandemic and provide us with a greater range of options to ensure that you are not disadvantaged.

These include:

  • expanded opportunities for reassessment and progression
  • a streamlined approach to extenuating circumstances and examination absence
  • more flexibility in the management of marks and how they contribute to the module outcome
  • monitoring module cohorts against previous years.

Safety Net 1

Approach for all taught students, undergraduate and postgraduate, undergoing assessment during summer 2020

  • If you do not pass a module because you were unable to complete an assessment in the upcoming exam period, you will be offered reassessment.
  • These resits will be treated as first sits and will be uncapped and free of charge.
  • We have also increased the number of credits that you can be offered reassessment in. For undergraduate students, reassessment will be offered over the Summer/in September, which will help to ensure that you can meet the requirements to progress to your next year of study.

Approach for all taught students undergoing reassessment in August/September 2020

  • All students will be able either to progress to the next year of their course or will be offered reassessment
  • For undergraduate students, if you do not pass a module following reassessment, you may still be able to progress to the next year of your degree
  • If you do not pass a compulsory or optional module, in addition to the ability to condone failed modules, the Board of Examiners will be offering the choice to trail up to 45 credits worth of modules
  • If you fail a core module or are not eligible for condonement or trailing, you will be offered reassessment
  • For postgraduate students, we have increased the number of credits you can be offered reassessment in
  • For all students, reassessment will be treated as first sits and will be uncapped.

Progression opportunities for undergraduate students

If you do not pass all modules following reassessment, you may still be able to progress to the next year of your degree. In addition to our normal arrangements to condone non-core fails, our Exam Boards will be offering the choice of trailing up to 45 non-core credits.

Up to 30 non-core credits can be condoned across a 3 or 4 year degree. Condoning modules means, if you have not passed a non-core module(s), you may still proceed to the next Year but the credits will not be awarded and you cannot attempt the credits in the next Year. You will be ‘carrying the fail’. The amount of credit which may be condoned is specified for each award.

Trailing means that you will be offered reassessment in modules that you have not passed this year alongside modules in your next year of study. Reassessment in trailed modules will be treated as first sits and will be uncapped and free of charge. You must meet a minimum threshold to be eligible for trailing. If you trail any failed modules you will still need to pass the minimum number of credits required for your course.

If you are not eligible for condonement or trailing (if you need to pass a core module(s); have not passed enough credits; or you do not want to trail modules), the Exam Board will offer you reassessment. If you repeat the year, either full time or part time, we will add an extra year to the time you have to complete your degree. Repeat years are already for uncapped marks.

When you receive your results all the options available to you will be fully explained and you will be able to seek advice.

Safety Net 2

A streamlined approach to extenuating circumstances and examination absence

  • If you are unable to complete an alternative assessment please tell us using the Notified Absence from Exams form found on your MyEssex portal. You do not need to make an extenuating circumstances claim or provide any evidence. Safety Net 1 means that regardless of why you were unable to complete the assessment, if you do not pass the module you will be offered another attempt for uncapped marks.
  • Our Exam Boards will be taking a holistic approach when making outcome decisions this year. We therefore ask that you do not submit extenuating circumstances for the general disruption caused by Coronavirus.
  • However, if your circumstances present individual difficulties to your ability to perform, we ask that you submit extenuating circumstances via the form found on your MyEssex portal.
  • We understand that you may not be able to obtain evidence to support your claim, and so we will not require it. You can self-certify.

Safety Net 3

More flexibility in the management of marks and how they contribute to the module outcome

  • Where you have already met the learning outcomes for a module based on assessment you have already passed, the alternative assessment can only improve your module aggregate.
  • Where you have not yet completed or passed enough assessment to meet the learning outcomes for a module, you will need to complete the upcoming assessments to be able to pass this module. Safety Net 4 means that all students’ performance in the module will be reviewed.

Safety Net 4

Monitoring module cohorts against previous three years

  • We will be actively comparing module marks this year with the previous three years to ensure that the marks are in line with previous achievement.
  • The Board of Examiners will look at the performance of students on your module as a whole. If your module cohort performs more poorly than we would expect based on the last three years of students taking that module, we will consider the marks to ensure that you are not disadvantaged.

Learning outcomes previously met

Many of you will have already completed a number of pieces of assessed work and coursework during your modules. Where you have passed these assessments and they constitute a significant proportion of the assessment for the module, the Board of Examiners will determine if you have already met the learning outcomes for the module. Where this is the case, the alternative assessment that you undertake during the summer term cannot reduce your module mark. The Board of Examiners will ensure that your final module mark is the same as or higher than the mark you have attained through the assessment you have already undertaken. Your module mark can increase, which is why the alternative assessment is an opportunity for you to improve your marks and fully demonstrate your learning but, in this scenario, it cannot have any negative impact.

Coursework and dissertations

If you have been unable to complete a coursework resubmission due to COVID-19 (excluding alternative exam assessments) or you think that your performance in assessment has been affected, you should submit an extenuating circumstances claim. The main deadline to submit an extenuating circumstances claim is 12 noon on Thursday 10 September 2020. All deadlines are published on the extenuating circumstances webpage. We understand that you may not be able to obtain evidence to support your claim, and so we will not require it. You can self-certify.

For postgraduate dissertations please contact your school/department for advice.

Incomplete study year abroad, including Modern Languages students

All students who are undertaking a year abroad have been contacted by the Essex Abroad Team with advice and guidance. If you have had to return home early from your Year Abroad and have been unable to complete your full year and all your planned assessments, the assessments you have completed will still be considered by the Exam Board. As stated in the current rules of assessment if you have completed the teaching and assessment and passed between 75% and 100% of the modules, you will remain on your current four-year course. If you haven’t been able to do this, due to the external circumstances, you will be offered the option to transfer onto a modified four-year course, which still recognises your period of study abroad. For example, a BA Politics with a Year Abroad student who had to return home early and was unable to undertake all of their assessments would be offered the option to transfer onto BA Politics including Study Abroad. If you do not wish to do this, you could choose to change to a three-year version of your degree course without a Year Abroad.

Modern Languages students

One of the most important parts of your year abroad is attending classes taught in your chosen language of study in order to meet the required language ability to progress to the final year of the Modern Languages course, or a joint course including a Modern Language. It is anticipated that you will have been able to meet the language requirements during the autumn term, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, if you have any concerns, please contact the Department of Language and Linguistics to discuss your individual circumstances.

For students on a Modern Languages course or a joint course including a Modern Language, the overall grade for the year abroad will be calculated based on the marks that you have received prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and any assessment that was completed in full during or after the outbreak. As stated in the current rules of assessment, if you have completed and passed between 75% and 100% of the modules, your marks will be counted towards your overall year mark. Any modules that remain incomplete will not be included in the calculation. In circumstances where you have completed and passed less than 75% of your modules, if you have met the required language skills in order to progress to the final year of study, you will exceptionally be able to remain on your chosen course. If you have not met the required language skills to progress to the final year of study, you will be transferred to BA Languages Studies in accordance with the current rules of assessment. For further advice please contact the Essex Abroad Team or the Department of Language and Linguistics.

Placement year

The impacts of Covid-19 have been far reaching and we know that many students who are undertaking placements as part of their course have been affected. All affected students should have been contacted by their academic department or the Student Development team to clarify the implications on your academic studies. Each student may have been affected differently depending on the nature and timing of the placement. Some may have completed all or the majority of the placement, including the assessment, while others may not. The University’s No Detriment approach will apply to students on placements, so your department and the Exam Board will consider any assessment you have completed and whether these have met the learning outcomes, taking into account the contribution the placement makes to your course and the contribution towards meeting any accreditation by professional organisations where applicable. The options open to you will be explained by your department and when you receive information following the Exam Board.

If you have questions about the assessment of the placement or module, or on the options you may be offered, you should contact your academic placement/module supervisor or your Personal Tutor. Students on placements which are a key element of a professional accreditation, such as clinical or healthcare courses, should check with your academic placement/module supervisor or your Personal Tutor if you are unsure about your situation and options.

Exam timetable

Your exam timetable will be published on 31 July 5pm.

The timetable shows the date and time when the alternative reassessment will be released, and the date and time when it is due to be submitted. For each module shown on your timetable there is a link to FASER, Moodle or Questionmark Perception where you will be able to access the question paper at the time shown.

To report a problem with your exam timetable, you should go to your online exam timetable and use the link to the form to report a problem. This could be an exam clash; an exam that is not showing; or an exam that you are not expecting to sit. Alternatively, email examschg@essex.ac.uk

If you have two exams of less than 23 hours 59 minutes that overlap, please email the Exams Office immediately, and we will investigate for you.

If your exams overlap, but one or more of these exams is 23 hours 59 minutes or longer, then please be aware that you are not expected to spend all of the allocated time on the exam. You should only be spending a similar amount of time to that which you would normally spend in an exam hall - usually two or three hours. The extended time period has been provided, where possible, to give you the flexibility to plan your time and work on your exam at a time that suits you and your circumstances, and to allow you time to download the question paper and upload your answers. If you have, for example, a 24-hour exam that overlaps with a 48-hour exam, this is considered reasonable for scheduling purposes, because both of those exams should take you between two and four hours to complete (approximately), and it is normal practice for a student to be assigned two exams within a 48-hour period.

If, however, you feel that the scheduling of two exams with overlapping completion windows negatively impacts your performance in either exam, please complete an extenuating circumstances form.

Preparing for reassessment

If you have any questions about your assessment or your course or modules, please contact the professional services team in your department or school. Please remember to contact your Personal Tutor if you need them.

Library Services

Talk to our library team, they are there to help you and provide advice about online resources.

Exam practice

If you’re not familiar with using FASER, Moodle, Questionmark Perception, we have set up some practice areas for you to try out ahead of your exams.

Skills for Success

You can access lots of webinars, workshops and individual support sessions, specifically for reassessment thanks to our Skills for Success team. Events are bookable via CareerHub and more information about the support available can be found on our academic skills pages.

IT support

If you need technical help, our support staff are available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can contact them by:

Additional support will also be available for any assessments which require submission deadlines on weekends.

Wellbeing support

Please contact the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Services team if you need support dealing with your current circumstances. You can find more information about support with mental and emotional health on the Student Directory.

Exam question queries

When you have downloaded or started an online reassessment, if you have a question that relates to the content of the take-home paper/assessment, you should contact your school or department.

Individual exam arrangements

Extra time (writing and non-writing time)

If your exam is under 23 hours 59 minutes in length, your extra time will be in place. Although rest break time is not included in the exam length shown on your exam timetable as it is programmed into the submission times on FASER or Moodle.

For exams of 23 hours 59 minutes or longer, all students have been given extra time so that you have flexibility to plan your time and work on your exam in a way that suits you and your circumstances.

Your school/department will provide guidance on how long you might expect to spend on writing your answers and/or the expected length (i.e. word count) of those answers, and you can add your extra writing time to those guide times. If you feel that this arrangement has a negative impact on your performance in the exam, please submit an extenuating circumstances claim form.

Extra equipment

The University won't be able to provide this equipment for remote exams. If you feel that this has a negative impact on your performance in the exam, please complete an extenuating circumstances form.

Rest breaks

Your submission deadline on FASER or Moodle will be adjusted automatically to take account of your rest break time for assessments under 23 hours 59 minutes in length.

If your exam is 23 hours 59 minutes or longer, then you will be able to take more frequent and longer breaks during the exam.

Reader/scribe

Exceptionally in these timed take-home assessments, you will be able to use your assistive software and other strategies you would normally when completing your coursework assignments. We anticipate therefore that you will not need a human examination scribe or reader in place and will be able to use a computer. If you have questions or concerns about this please contact your named adviser in SWIS by emailing include@essex.ac.uk as soon as you review your exam timetable.

Injury

If you have an injury please contact SWIS by emailing include@essex.ac.uk and provide further information and medical evidence so any adjustments required can be considered.

Purple book/cover sheet

A purple book is not provided, please complete a cover sheet in the same way you would for coursework assignments. To download a cover sheet:

  1. Log on to FASER with your username and password
  2. Click the 'Help and Support' tab on the left-hand panel
  3. Click on 'Student Support' on the drop-down menu
  4. Download your cover sheet

Submit this by uploading it alongside your exam.

Academic integrity – plagiarism and collusion

Answers should be your own work and should not be attempted with the help of other people. If there is a suspected case of academic misconduct this will be treated in the same way as all plagiarism and collusion cases at the University and will be taken very seriously.

You should use your own words to answer questions and should not cut and paste material.

If you refer to external sources such as books or journal articles, you should reference them in the way that you normally would in a typical exam situation.

Sitting assessments outside of the UK

The times shown on your timetable are in British Summer Time (BST). Please convert this to your local time, if you are undertaking your assessment outside of the United Kingdom.

If you are sitting assessments, with a short duration, in a different time zone which means that you cannot take the exam, you should complete our online Notified Absence form via My Essex. You do not need to submit an extenuating circumstances form or provide any evidence. See the information on extenuating circumstances for how your notification of absence will be treated.

If you are sitting assessments, with a short duration, in a different time zone and feel this has negatively impacted your assessment result, you should submit an extenuating circumstances claim form.

For assessments that last for 24 hours or more, we hope that you will be able to take the assessment at a convenient time for you. We advise that you try to download the paper and read through the questions while our support staff are available, in case you need help or have a question. However, if you think that you have been disadvantaged by sitting the assessment in a different time zone, for example if you were unable to access timely support and advice, you should submit an extenuating circumstances claim.

Extenuating circumstances and notified absence

Extenuating circumstances

If you have been unable to complete reassessment due to COVID-19 (excluding alternative exam assessments) or you think that your performance in an alternative assessment has been affected, you should submit an extenuating circumstances claim.

If you have not passed the affected module(s), you will be offered another attempt at the assessment. This will be for uncapped marks and there will be no resit fee. For undergraduate students, in the case of non-core modules, there may be opportunities to progress to the next year of study even where a module has not been passed.

If you have passed the affected modules(s) the Board of Examiners may not take any action and you will be able to progress to the next year of your course. The Board of Examiners may have some other options available to them in certain circumstances and where it is clearly to your benefit.

The Board may be limited in the action it is able to take where there are external professional or regulatory requirements. Contact your department if you are unsure whether your course has such external requirements.

The reassessment period deadline to submit an extenuating circumstances claim is 12 noon on Thursday 10 September 2020. All deadlines are published on the extenuating circumstances webpages.

Notified Absence

If you can’t take an alternative reassessment, for whatever reason, all you need to do is tell us by completing a Notified Absence from Exams form on MyEssex. You do not need to submit an extenuating circumstances claim or provide any evidence.

Late submission of alternative reassessment

Assessments of under 24 hours' duration

If the length of the alternative reassessment is less than 23 hours 59 minutes and delivered on FASER, an additional hour has already been added to the standard time for the assessments now that they are being delivered online. This is to allow time for you to download and upload the assessment. There will be technical support available in case you have any difficulties and you are encouraged to use the practice test available in advance. Should you still experience difficulties uploading your completed work, you should email your work within the allotted period to submitexam@essex.ac.uk.

Should the work be submitted late, your late submission will be treated as a missed assessment and will not be marked (see the information about extenuating circumstances). You will not need to notify us and you will not need to make an extenuating circumstances claim.

Assessments of 24 hours and over

If the duration of the alternative reassessment is 23 hours 59 minutes or more, you should upload your answer to FASER and submit a late submission claim using the online extenuating circumstances form. You should submit your work no later than 24 hours after the published deadline. You should explain the extenuating circumstances that caused you to submit your work after the deadline. We understand that you may not be able to provide evidence to support your claim. Your school/department will decide whether to accept your claim. If your claim is accepted your work will be marked. If your claim is not accepted, you will receive a mark of zero and your late submission will be treated as a missed assessment (see the information about extenuating circumstances).

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