Postgraduate Taught assessment support measures for 2020/21

Postgraduate Taught students have been emailed this afternoon with more information about the package of support measures we have put in place regarding your assessments this year. Above all we have two duties, to be fair to you in these challenging circumstances that we are all experiencing, and to protect the integrity and value of your degrees so that your award is respected and that University of Liverpool students continue to be sought after by employers. We can reassure you that although we have had to adapt the way in which your studies are delivered, no changes to modules have been approved that would change the intended learning outcomes for your programme or risk professional accreditation where this applies.

Our first priority has always been and will continue to be the wellbeing of our students and staff. It is extremely important to us that you continue to get the support you need to successfully pursue your studies, regardless of how your teaching arrangements may have changed through the academic year. With that in mind we have adapted our approach to delivering teaching, learning and assessments online for 2020/21 including a move to assessments with longer timeframes to complete, and we outline those details below.

Please note, pre-sessional students will receive an additional communication from the English Language Centre (ELC) with further details about what measures will apply to you.

Liverpool assessment support measures for 2020/21

Importantly, we want to make it absolutely clear that we understand the pandemic has created difficulties for the majority of students and I would like to assure you that this will be taken into account when considering your overall attainment at the end of the year. It is only right that we explain to you how we propose to do this, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience, and also your feedback and insight, whilst we have worked through these issues together with the Liverpool Guild of Students. We have identified a range of individual and cohort level measures to take into account the impact of the pandemic.

We can now confirm that:

Changes to Extenuating Circumstances and Exemption from Late Penalties

  • For the whole of the 2020/21 academic year, we have removed the requirement for evidence of personal illness if you need to make an application under the Extenuating Circumstances Policy.  We have also included IT difficulties as grounds for claiming Extenuating Circumstances.  Please note that you do not need to apply for Extenuating Circumstances to ask for consideration of the general impact of the pandemic, as this is addressed by other measures including those set out here. You should only submit an application if you experience a specific issue which you feel has prevented you completing your work to your best ability. You can find more information about this in our online assessments FAQ document available here.
  • All coursework due in January or February 2021 which is or has been submitted within five working days of the original deadline will automatically be granted exemption from late penalties (ELP) without the need for an application. This applies even if your deadline has recently been moved by your department. Submission after five working days would need to be supported by an ELP application as usual. If you submit more than five working days after the deadline without submitting an ELP application the work will receive a mark of zero consistent with existing policy.
  • Please note, the late penalties exemption applies only to coursework and not to open book or time-controlled exams. If you believe your performance has been affected by a specific issue or issues in these assessments you should submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim as usual.
  • If you have a support plan which recommends extensions as a reasonable adjustment then I sent an additional communication to you on Friday, 15 January setting out what additional support is in place for you.
  • We will remove the requirement to submit medical evidence when requesting exemption from late penalties due to personal illness for the rest of this academic year, bringing this process in line with the change we have already made to the Extenuating Circumstances process (see first bullet point above).  Please remember that you should inform your department if you are unwell in line with the student sickness absence policy.

Boards of Examiners

Every year your marks are reviewed and confirmed by Boards of Examiners.  One of the duties of these Boards is to ensure fairness and consider the performance of the entire cohort as well as individual performance. The Boards are composed of your Department’s or School’s academic and professional services staff who will understand any particular circumstances affecting you and/or your programme of study. Before the Board of Examiners meets a separate Extenuating Circumstances Committee will have considered all claims for individual Extenuating Circumstances and will have made recommendations to the Board of Examiners as to how these may be taken into account when considering an individual student’s progressions or classification.

  • Given the exceptional circumstances of this year, our Boards of Examiners will review the performance of your cohort against a variety of data, including comparing marks between modules and the achievement of previous cohorts, to ensure that any detrimental impact of the pandemic is identified and mitigated. Where appropriate, module marks will be adjusted so that students are awarded marks which are valid indicators of their attainment.
  • Where individual students have additional accepted Extenuating Circumstances then they may be offered resit as a first sit (for an uncapped mark) or individual marks or modules may be discounted from the final award calculation.
  • We will introduce a borderline range for when classifying.  This means that if your average is 58 or 59 percent, or 68 or 69 percent, then the Board of Examiners will award you the higher classification (Merit or Distinction) if your dissertation mark is in the higher class.

We are sure you will appreciate that allowing students to submit work later will impact on the time available to academic staff to mark the work. Therefore, if your programme started in October 2020 then we will need to move the date on which your marks are released by five working days from 11 March to 18 March. If you are on a PGT programme that started later than October then your department will confirm your mark release date with you.

At this time it is more important than ever that we recognise the difficulties and pressures faced by all members of our community, staff and students alike. As you see from the measures we have described above, given the disruption we are keen to ensure that where you need it you get additional time to complete your work to the best of your ability; you have asked us for this and we consider that it is completely fair in the current circumstances.  However, many of our staff are also facing their own personal challenges at this time and we must also ensure that they are not faced with unrealistic timeframes for marking and moderation whilst also preparing for semester 2 teaching. Also, they may at this time take a little longer to reply to enquiries, and I would like to thank you in advance for your understanding in relation to this.

You can find further information about exams and assessments and how Extenuating Circumstances will be applied on our exams information webpage. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on all the points made above will also be available shortly via the Student Intranet. We would encourage you to visit this page and read through the FAQs thoroughly, when they are available, before contacting your school office.