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Last summer UCL put a policy in place to make sure that no student would be academically disadvantaged by the pandemic, this included the alternative teaching and assessment arrangements as well as measures to ensure students experienced no detriment to their grades or progression. 

There has been lots of discussion this year about what UCL could or should put in place to support students. Sabbatical Officers have been working with UCL on a new policy or package of measures. UCL had hoped that a No Detriment policy wouldn’t be needed this year, as they have tried to adapt the curriculum for teaching and assessment during the pandemic. They wanted to design all programmes to recognise that students may be working remotely, not have access to normal support and facilities and wouldn’t be able to take exams in the usual way.  

However, as the pandemic in the UK worsened and the lockdown measures put in place have been longer and stricter than before, UCL have now agreed that students this year are facing very different challenges that have impacted the whole year of study. As a result, UCL have looked again at the support offered to students to make sure no one academically suffers because of the national (and global) situation. 

Plans put in place at the start of the year 

UCL acknowledged that this year would be different, so academic departments made changes to the way you’re taught, what you’re taught and how you’re assessed. The changes made to teaching and assessment at the start of the year are part of the reason this year’s No Detriment package is so different to last years. 

From the start of this year: 

  • Departments were told to adjust all course content for online learning. UCL have said they will continue to review this to make sure you aren’t assessed on things you haven’t been taught or using resources you haven’t had access to. 

  • In making these changes, departments may update exam questions, marking criteria, learning outcomes or marking rubrics. In some cases they may even change the type of assessment (for example, an exam might become coursework) or adjust deadlines to give you more time to do the work. Your department is responsible for telling you about any changes to your individual assessments. 

New measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on your studies 

Since January, UCL have been developing a new package of measures to support you. They released the final package of measures on Monday 8 February.

This is what’s included: 

Self-Certified Extenuating Circumstances 

Self-certification means you can ask for extenuating circumstances without needing evidence from a GP or other professional to support your claim. This applies to any type of extenuating circumstances, not just those relating to Coronavirus (Covid-19). However, UCL still expect students to only submit claims that follow the criteria set out in the Academic Manual (Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances).

  • You can now self-certify on up to 5 occasions. 

  • If your programme includes teaching after Term 3 (Postgraduate Taught students) you can self-certify on up to 6 occasions. 

  • This can be used for an extension, a deferral or to have the late submission penalties waived for up to 14 days. The 14 day period will include any coursework or exams that are due during that time. Usually UCL would not allow 2 periods close together (less than 14 days apart) but they have said Faculties can use their discretion (for example if you have to self-isolate twice close together). 

  • You are also allowed to use the self-certification to spread your assessments over 2 assessment periods (for example the late summer assessment period) if you need to manage your workload. The examples given are if you are having to juggle work, parenting or caring responsibilities with your studies. In this case the 14 day period doesn’t apply, but it could affect whether you are able to graduate or progress to the next part of your studies on time if you spread your assessments into next year 

  • If you use all your self-certification opportunities, you can still apply for extenuating circumstances but you will need to include evidence with your request (like a letter from a GP or other doctor). If you can’t get any evidence, you should speak to your department for advice. 

Extra Time in Exams 

  • All exams are now open book, which means you are allowed to refer to your notes, other work and resources during the assessment. 

  • Most online exams will be open for 24 hours. This extra time is to help you manage your assessment and workload in a way that works for you. It is also there to allow for time-zone differences, any exam adjustments, childcare responsibilities, work commitments or anything else that makes it harder for you to study. 

  • Some exams may be shorter. If you do have a shorter exam, you will be given a 1 hour ‘upload window’ at the end of the exam in case you have any problems. 

  • If you do still have technical problems, you can ask to defer the exam to the late summer assessments by using the Exam Query form. You don’t need to put in an Extenuating Circumstances claim but you will need to provide screenshots/photos so UCL can see what the problem was. 

We don’t know what the Exam Query form looks like yet, but as soon as UCL publish this we will include a link to it here. 

  • Some departments are planning to offer ‘take home papers’ where you will have even longer to complete the assessment. These assessments are managed by the departments and the normal extenuating circumstances and late submission rules will apply. 

  • If you have any technical issues during a practical assessment (a presentation, lab work, practical, oral or OSCE) where you have a set time to complete a task, internal examiners have been told to use their discretion to allow for any unforeseen problems. They will decide if the assessment can go ahead at the time or if it needs to be rearranged at a later date.  

Classification Borderlines are being widened by 1% 

  • Undergraduate students: if your final mark falls in the new borderline zone, your final award will be automatically changed to the higher class if 50% of your final year modules are within that class. 

  • Graduate and Postgraduate Taught students: if your final mark falls in the new borderline zone, your final award will be automatically changed to the higher class if 50% of your modules are within that class. 

  • MRes students: if your final mark falls in the new borderline zone, your final award will be automatically changed to the higher class if 50% of your taught modules and dissertation/research project are within that class. 

Different programmes use different rules to calculate your final classification. You can find the standard regulations in the Academic Manual (Section 10 Classification). If you are an undergraduate and enrolled in 2017-18 or earlier, you can find information about classification here. 

  • UCL does run a number of specialist programmes with their own unique requirements (such as Fine Art, Initial Teacher Education, Anna Freud Centre students. MBBS Students and LLM students who enrolled before 2017-18). If you are studying one of these programmes, UCL has said they are working with your departments to make sure there is tailored support in place for you. This information should be published soon. 

Condonement and Progression 

This applies to Bachelors, MSci/MEng and some 2 year Postgraduate Taught courses that have formal progression requirements

  • If you fail up to 30 taught credits you might be able to have these condoned.

Condonement means even though you have failed the assessment, you would still be allowed to progress or graduate without needing to resit. To do this you need to meet certain conditions, so it’s worth checking your Student Handbook or Moodle to see if this applies to you; some modules can’t be condoned and you will often need to get a year average above a certain mark.  

  • If you fail up to 30 credits you might be able to resit next year (2021-22) 

This is called ‘provisional progression’ and means you are allowed to go onto the next part of your programme even if you have some credits outstanding. Again, you need to check if you would be allowed to do this; you won’t be able to if you’ve already had all your attempts at the assessment or if you are on some professionally-accredited programmes. 

  • If you fail up to 60 credits you might be able to condone some assessments and take the rest as resits next year (2021/22) 

This is a combination of both options, but you still need to meet the conditions so should check your Student Handbook, Moodle or with your department. 

Existing support 

As well as the new measures put in place, there are also existing ways UCL can support you.

This is what’s included: 

No Resit Fees 

  • As usual, no student will be charged resit fees for any assessments taken within the same academic year.  

  • If you need to repeat modules next year, then you may be charged fees for repeat tuition if you have to attend the classes, lectures or other teaching again. 

2019-20 No Detriment Policy 

  • If you were studying last year and you were helped by the 2019-20 No Detriment Policy, this will still apply to your 2019-20 assessments. 

UCL Support Provisions 

  • All students can access support from Student Support and Wellbeing. Information about what is available in 2020/21 is on their website here 

  • If you have a disability, impairment, physical health condition, mental health or are neurodivergent UCL can provide longer-term support through a SORA (Statement of Reasonable Adjustments) that is put in place during your studies. You can find out more information on the disability support webpage here. 

  • For some people studying this year may simply be too difficult. If this is the case, you can take a break by interrupting your studies. You can find more information on how to do this here (but it is a good idea to speak to your department to see what might work best for you). 

  • If you have to self-isolate at any point, UCL have also put together information to help you through this time. 

  • UCL also have a designated student Coronavirus (Covid-19) information page which includes a whole range of information, advice and updates. 

What this means for you 

These are very broad examples of how the package of measures may apply to you.  Everyone’s circumstances are different and you should talk to staff in your department if you have any questions in the first instance. And remember, our Advice Service is here to support you. 

First-year undergraduates 

5 x Self-certified Extenuating Circumstances to use for an extension, deferral or delaying late submission penalties.
Resits next year
Open book exams  

Continuing undergraduates 

Last year’s No Detriment policy
5 x Self-certified Extenuating Circumstances to use for an extension, deferral or delaying late submission penalties. 
Resits next year 
Open book exams 

Final year undergraduates 

Last year’s No Detriment policy 
5 x Self-certified Extenuating Circumstances to
 use for an extension, deferral or delaying late submission penalties. 
Extended grade boundaries for final classification
Open book exams

Postgraduate taught 

6 x Self-certified Extenuating Circumstances to use for an extension, deferral or delaying late submission penalties. 

Extended grade boundaries for final classification
Open book exams 

Two-year postgraduate programmes 

6 x Self-certified Extenuating Circumstances to use for an extension, deferral or delaying late submission penalties. 
Resits next year (if in the first year) 
Last year’s No Detriment policy (if in the final year) 

Extended grade boundaries for final classification (if in the final year) 
Open book exams 

Research students have their own package of support outlined in our blog post.

Our Advice Service offers specialist support on UCL’s academic regulations, we’re here if you just need help making sense of it all.