9.         Conduct of Assessment

Formal unseen written examinations   

9.1      The procedures under which the University requires unseen written examinations to be conducted are set out in the University’s Examination Regulations (Annex 3). Should any divergence from these procedures be requested, the chair of the relevant School Board of Examiners must be consulted. The chair may act on behalf of the board, but must first consult the undergraduate or graduate Education Director.

9.2      The University's Examination Regulations contain detailed provisions concerning the handling of allegations of plagiarism, cheating and other examinations offences (sections 2.9 -11.18). Anyone with responsibility for handling such allegations must be fully familiar with these regulations.

The examination periods

9.3      Summative examinations are set within the January and May/June assessment periods and re-sit examinations in the August/September period, unless being taken as a supplementary assessment. Exceptions must be agreed as in 9.5.

9.4      The summative assessment of units must take place during or at the end of the teaching block in which the unit is run, except for agreed exceptions.

9.5      Where there is good academic reason to request an exemption from 9.3 or 9.4, the programme director must make a case to the relevant Faculty Education Director. If the Faculty Education Director approves the case, it must then be presented to the relevant Academic Director of Studies for final approval.

9.6      Examinations within the MBChB, BDS, BVSc and other specified non-modular programmes should be arranged as outlined in 9.3 and 9.4 as far as is possible.

Students requesting to take summative examinations outside of the United Kingdom

Students registered for an award of the University of Bristol

9.7      All University of Bristol students taking first-sit or re-sit examinations are expected to take their scheduled examinations in venues arranged by the University of Bristol. In exceptional cases, however, approval may be sought for permission to take an examination at an approved institution outside the United Kingdom (UK).

9.8      There is no automatic entitlement to sit an examination outside the UK.  Permission to do so will only be given if:

(i)     It is permitted by programme and/or faculty requirements (e.g. 9.9);

(ii)    The student has provided sufficient cause or reason* to not sit the examination at the University of Bristol;

(iii)   The arrangements for examination at the approved institution conform to University regulations;

(iv)  There is not suitable alternative.

This judgement is at the discretion of the relevant Faculty Education Director.

* Holidays, working commitments or financial constraints at the time of the examination will not normally be considered a sufficient cause or reason for taking the examination outside the UK. Authorisation to sit an examination outside the UK on medical grounds will not normally be granted as students should only be taking examinations when fit to do so. Students who have medical issues should seek advice from their School.

9.9         Students on the MBChB, BDS and BVSc programmes are prohibited from taking examinations outside the UK, due to a requirement from professional accrediting bodies. 

9.10      Any examination scheduled outside the UK must take place in an institution where the conditions for examination have been formally agreed by the University. The relevant Faculty will notify the University’s Examinations Office in such instances, which will liaise with the student’s home institution with regard to the arrangements for the examination such that it is convened in accordance with the regulations of the University of Bristol.

9.11      Any examination arranged outside of the UK must be scheduled to run concurrently or to overlap withsame examination at the University of Bristol.

9.12      The same procedures apply where the requirements of a distance learning programme necessitate students taking their written summative examinations outside the UK. Consideration should be given during the design stage of distance learning programmes as to whether alternative forms of assessment are more appropriate. 

Students whose award is not made by the University of Bristol

9.13      A student studying at the University of Bristol, but whose award is not being made by the University (i.e. on a ‘Study Abroad’ period), will be permitted the opportunity to undertake a first-attempt summative examination at their home institution, where the student is required to re-engage with their studies at the home institution at the same time that examinations are scheduled at Bristol (i.e. in the January examination period). This allowance is subject to:

(i)     It being permitted by programme requirements;

(ii)    The arrangements for examination conforming to University regulation, including that it is held concurrently with the examination held in Bristol or, where this is not possible, on the same day.

This judgement is at the discretion of the relevant Faculty Education Director.

9.14      In such cases, at the behest of the student, the International Office will inform the relevant School and Faculty in which the Study Abroad student is based at the start of each academic year.

9.15      The relevant Faculty will subsequently notify the University’s Examinations Office, which will liaise with the student’s home institution with regard to the arrangements for the examination such that it is convened in accordance with the regulations of the University of Bristol.

Coursework and similar forms of written summative assessment

Coursework is defined as any summative assessment based on essays, assignments, creative writing or other tasks that is completed outside timetabled classes in the students' own time.

9.16      Students should be informed (e.g. via Blackboard) at the start of each unit when coursework will be set, when it is to be submitted and when it will be returned. Deadlines for coursework should be provided in sufficient time for completion.

9.17      A reference to how a student should apply for an extension to the original deadline and the penalties for late submission should also be provided in the faculty handbook (see Section 15).

9.18      Academic misconduct associated with continuously assessed summative assignments should be dealt with in accordance with the Examination Regulations.

9.19      External examiner(s) should be supplied with the summative assessment structure for a programme in which the examination and coursework requirements are defined. External examiner(s) must be able to scrutinise examples of summative coursework.

9.20      The director of a unit that utilises coursework as an assessment method is responsible for ensuring that all those involved in the assessment process are aware of the assessments of the unit, and where the marking of coursework is undertaken by more than one person, procedures must be in place to ensure consistency in marking.

e-Submission of coursework

Procedural guidance on the e-submission of coursework is available from: www.bris.ac.uk/tel/support/tools/e-submission/.

9.21      Where employed, the e-submission of work should be consistently applied for all students undertaking the assessment and, ideally, to all the appropriate assessments within the unit.

9.22      It should be made clear to students (e.g. via Blackboard) that, for each unit, whether any assessment can or must be submitted online and if the work is to be checked using text, code or other matching software.

9.23      Students should be given clear instructions (e.g. via Blackboard) on the submission process, for each unit, including that:

  1. Submitted files must be in the specified file format(s) (e.g. Word, pdf).
  2. Submitted files must comply with instructions, including required file naming and coversheet information (if used).
  3. The deadline relates to the complete and successful submission of the coursework and students must ensure that they begin the submission process in good time before the deadline.
  4. Checking the successful submission of the work is the responsibility of the student. Staff should only be contacted if the student has identified or experienced a problem (e.g. submitted the wrong file).

9.24      In the event that University systems are not accessible on the deadline date/time, the submission deadline should be extended, and students informed. Students should not use alternative methods to submit work e.g. email.

9.25      If a student encounters a problem preventing them from submitting their work that is not caused by a University system failure, they must notify their School immediately. Evidence of this technical failure may be required by the School.  The act of notification in itself does not annul or extend any deadline.

Online assessment

9.26      Arrangements should be made for responding to unexpected technical problems in a way that is fair and efficient and within a reasonable timeframe. This includes technical support in case of server failure. In cases of serious technical failure, students should be offered the examination in paper format.

9.27      Suitable arrangements should be made in conjunction with the University’s central IT Services for the invigilation of online assessment. 

9.28      The summative assessment should only be accessible by secure password and the performance recorded by university-approved secure management tools suited for the purpose.

9.29      Computers used for summative assessments should wherever possible have both internet and communication tools disabled, except as needed for the purpose of the assessment.

9.30      The use of a large pool or sub-pools of examination questions from which a randomised sub-set of questions is generated to produce individualised student exams is strongly encouraged as long as the pool/s cover/s all aspects of the examinable material and the sub-sample generated is representative. Pools of questions should be carefully constructed to test the unit’s intended learning outcomes.

9.31      Information Services is responsible for the technical infrastructure which enables the assessment to occur.

9.32      Schools must ensure that the scheduling of online assessment does not conflict with the central examinations timetable.

9.33      Online assessment must be conducted under the same processes specified by the Code as for other forms of assessment. 

Oral examinations of individual students   

9.34      Two examiners should be present during all oral examinations. If this is not possible then a procedure for recording the event must be in place.

9.35      Oral examinations should only be used when it matches the intended learning outcome being tested e.g. practical or performance skills. Normally this would not include assessment of simple factual knowledge recall.

9.36      It is the responsibility of the Programme Director in conjunction with the Unit Directors involved to demonstrate that the oral examination is reliable, fair and appropriate and adds value to the assessment portfolio.

9.37      The external examiner must have adequate access to the purpose, objectives and assessment criteria.

9.38      If an oral examination is part of the assessment of a unit, it must apply to every student taking that unit.

9.39      An oral examination is not permitted as a means of moderating a student’s examination result or degree classification.