Mitigating the Impacts of Covid-19 on your Studies in 2020/21
City is working with the Students’ Union to ensure that students results are not impacted unfairly as a result of the pandemic. The following outlines what City is doing to support you to succeed, progress and effectively undertake your studies at this time. Some universities refer to this approach as the “no detriment policy”.
In 2020/21, we have:
- Re-designed how we deliver our programmes during the pandemic including moving some of our programmes online.
- Reviewed the number and types of assessments you are required to take where relevant, to make them as manageable as possible in the current circumstances.
- Implemented a revised Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Policy to support you in a way that is proportionate and responsive to your needs.
- Re-Designed and adapted our research degrees to support doctoral researchers to succeed, progress and effectively undertake your studies at this time. For further details on the changes we have made please see the ‘Research Degree Students’ drop down tab below.
*Please note, there may be exceptions on externally accredited programmes with PSRB requirements or non-standard credit structures. If this applies to you, your School will confirm what these are.
We recognise that the on-going pandemic over the winter, particularly the increasingly strict local lockdowns ending in the third national lockdown in the United Kingdom, may have increased the pressure on you. City’s main objective is for our students to succeed and we are continuing to make all reasonable efforts to:
- enable you to complete your studies;
- enable your achievements to be reliably assessed; and
- ensure your qualifications are awarded securely so that they hold value now and in the future.
Working closely with the Students’ Union, we have developed some additional measures/action to support you, while protecting the value of your final qualification: the ‘Main mitigation package’ and the ‘Exceptional programme package’.
The ‘Main mitigation package’ will apply to most of you and is outlined below.
The ‘Exceptional programme package’ will apply where there are additional considerations such as PSRB requirements or non-standard credit structures. Your School will communicate to you directly if these are relevant to you and your programme. Please note, that the ‘Exceptional programme package’ may include, where relevant, elements of the ‘‘Main mitigation package’.
Please be aware that in order for these actions to be taken, professional body requirements and the learning outcomes for your programme must be satisfied.
There are four parts to the ‘Main mitigation package’ which recognise the different ways your performance may have been impacted as a result of the pandemic.
We have already communicated the first two actions set out below. The other two actions are additional actions we are taking to support you.
- To support those of you who may have been individually affected by extenuating circumstances, we have relaxed our rules on evidence for Extenuating Circumstances claims and streamlined the approval process.
- To ensure that your cohort is not unfairly impacted by unforeseen effects of the pandemic on results across different modules, and to identify at risk students, we are reviewing your marks. We will do so in Term 1 by holding Interim Assessment Panels.
- To support students who have been generally affected by the current exceptional circumstances we will, where possible increase the number of modules which are eligible for compensation of marks. This means the Assessment Board may decide that a strong performance by a student in one part of the curriculum, may be used as the basis to award credit where the student has failed to achieve a module pass mark elsewhere, when the overall criteria has been met.
- Where you pass your current stage during 2020/21 academic year and depending on your programme, we will discount up to your lowest 30 credits of modules (from the 2020/21 academic year), from the stage’s contribution to your final classification.
There will be some programmes that have exceptions to this due to professional body requirements or non-standard credit structures. Students who are undertaking partial repeat years will not have any change to their credit calculations as their current modules are already covered by last year’s safety net.
For full details on how the Regulations will be applied to you in the 2020/21 academic year, please see the Contingency Senate Regulations for Assessment and Conferment of Awards 2020/21. Please note that all sections of the original Senate Regulations 19: Assessment Regulations continue will continue to apply unless they have been updated for 2020/21.
You can find more information on the support available to you below.
Students who are undertaking partial repeat years will not have any change to their credit calculations as their current modules are already covered by last year’s safety net.
The Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Policy is in place to support you with circumstances that may be affecting your studies.
To support you during the pandemic, we have adjusted our Extenuating Circumstances (EC) approval process.
Students in the 2020/21 academic year can:
- submit an EC claim for consideration any time up until the last Assessment Board for their programme is held; Or
- Submit an EC claim 7 days after the release of their result following a meeting of the relevant Assessment Board* for their programme for consideration if they feel their results were impacted by undeclared ECs.
- After the 7-day deadline the ‘Appeal on the Ground of undisclosed EC’ process will continue to be in place for students to utilise.
- Where students have received marks and feedback on a Dissertation or equivalent major project for which they submit Extenuating Circumstances, an Assessment Board may require students to submit a new topic or answer a new question.
- Programmes with Professional Body Regulations and those with non-standard entry points and those with exceptions may be exempt from the above arrangements to the ECs provision.
*For example, where there is an Assessment Board for a cohort in Term 2 but is followed by another Assessment Board for the same cohort in Term 3, the Board in term 3 would be considered to be the last Board.
Depending on your situation, EC’s can be submitted ‘With Evidence’, ‘With Self-Certification’ or ‘Without Evidence’.
EC without Evidence: We accept that the current situation with the pandemic is an exceptional circumstance. Where your studies have been impacted directly or indirectly by the pandemic and you are unable to provide evidence, you can inform us of the impact of the pandemic on you by stating it as a reason for submitting an ‘EC without Evidence’. Please also tell us in brief why evidence could not be provided as part of your claim so we can provide you with the appropriate support
You can also get extra guidance and support by using the Students Union Online Case Form.
Reviewing your marks: Holding Interim Assessment Panels to Review Term 1 Marks
To further support you, we are also reviewing provisional marks achieved for term 1 assessments this academic year. The review aims to:
- review the marks given to an overall module cohort;
- ensure that the marks given to an overall module cohort are in line with what would normally be expected;
- ensure your work is marked fairly within the pandemic circumstances;
- identify students who may need additional support; and
- secure the value of your qualification and maintain City’s academic standards.
Please note that if your programme is accredited by a Professional Body, specific arrangements may apply and your School will confirm what these are. Also, all marks released to you prior to the final Assessment Boards for your programme are provisional.
Interim Assessment Panels
We are holding Interim Assessment Panels to review the provisional marks following your Term 1 assessments. Where appropriate, these panels will make recommendations about marks to Assessment Boards later in the year. This can include a recommendation of ‘scaling’.
Additionally, it may be identified that you may benefit from some additional support (e.g. personal tutor meetings, study skills sessions, and IT support including wifi or data) as you progress through the remainder of the year. If this is relevant to you, we will contact you shortly to provide you with:
- the type of support being recommended for you. This could be as a cohort undertaking a particular programme or as an individual student with specific needs;
- the reason(s) as to why such support is being recommended;
- any other relevant information about your marks.
Please note that in relation to marks, any recommendations such as scaling remain provisional. Final decisions will be made at the end of year Assessment Boards in consultation with the External Examiners for your programme.
Assessment Boards are held by each School after the final assessment is completed to ensure Assessment Regulations are fairly and consistently applied. After the Assessment Boards have met, the agreed results are verified, signed-off and released.
The role of Assessment Boards include:
- considering and agreeing marks achieved by each student for assessment components, the overall module mark and credit to be awarded.
- considering recommendations from Interim Assessment Panels, Extenuating Circumstances Panels, Academic Misconduct Panels, Fitness to Practise Panels, Fitness to Study Panels and other advisory panels as applicable.
- applying any relevant PSRB requirements in accordance with approved programme Regulations.
- agreeing the application of grade adjustment(s)
Scaling at Interim Assessment Panels for your Term 1 Assessments
To scale your marks, the Interim Assessment Panel for your programme will review your provisional marks. In some instances, the Panel may recommend that the marks for a module need to be adjusted where there have been factors that shows overall attainment has not been what we would usually expect.
Scaling could be used where relevant to either increase a spread of students across the mark range or to re-align a high or low average attainment. Any changes such as scaling remain provisional. Final decisions will be made at the end of year Assessment Boards in consultation with the External Examiners for your programme.
Please note that scaling will only be recommended in cases where there are factors that shows overall attainment has not been what we would usually expect. This is because adjustments were made to your module design and assessments at the start of 2020/21 to support you to progress and succeed this academic year.
- Modules and assessments that have not had a recommendation of scaling at the Interim Assessment Panels can still be scaled at the Assessment Boards if appropriate.
- We may not be able to review provisional marks that are subject to Professional Body requirements, as these programmes are externally accredited.
Scaling may be considered when:
- There is a significant, clearly identifiable and evidenced based issue with an assessment or module.
- The range of marks for an assessment or module significantly fails to match student performance, for instance, failing to fit onto the marking criteria which might be evidenced by one or more of the following:
- the range of marks is not in line with what would be expected from past performance on the module;
- the range of marks is not in line with what has been achieved by the same students registered on other modules at that level;
The above criteria are guidelines for Interim Assessment Panels to consider. Interim Assessment Panels will decide when it might be appropriate for scaling to be recommended.
Application of scaling:
- Interim Assessment Panels will consider statistical data for each module, including assessments within the module (for the current academic year and up to 3 previous academic years, where the data is available). If an Examining Board considers that the marks are not an accurate reflection of the expected academic standards achieved by the students, the Board may consider taking corrective action by scaling marks.
- An Interim Assessment Panel can recommend to scale marks down as well as up if that is deemed necessary to ensure marks are an accurate reflection of the academic standards achieved.
- Please note recommendations to scale down marks is usually a rare occurrence. Where scaling down is being recommended passing students will not be scaled to fail.
- Academic judgment will be used to determine the appropriateness of the recommendation for scaling and senior staff with oversight of Interim Assessment.
- Panels within each School will ensure there is consistency in the approach, to make sure that mitigation is used fairly.
- If a scaling recommendation is being considered, relevant external examiners should be consulted.
- Scaling requires academic judgement and is not a tool which can be used to ensure that students that fail* their assessment will pass. However, student who pass their assessments will not fail.
*If you have failed to pass one or more of your first term modules firstly, please make sure you contact your School and arrange a meeting to discuss your educational needs. Your School will help you to come up with a plan to support you to succeed in your summer exams, as well as any resits you will be taking. You can also use the opportunity to talk about any problems you are having or any support you might need.
City is dedicated to helping our students to achieve their best potential and are here to help you. For other support available to all students please see the ‘Support available to you section’ below.
Compensation of marks
Compensation is the process where the University awards credit for a module in which a passing grade was not achieved. There are strict criteria applied to determine whether compensation of marks can be granted.
We expect the vast majority of students will be able to successfully pass all their modules and will not require compensation. However, due to the impact of the pandemic and to support you, we have increased the range of modules that can be compensated across all Schools, where possible.
Please note that professional body requirements and essential learning outcomes must still be satisfied.
Compensation is not available in the following instances:
- for Dissertation or equivalent major project
- to students who have passed a module
- when it cannot be demonstrated that the Learning Outcomes of the Modules in the Programme Stage have been satisfied.
- for a pass/fail module
- for modules failed due to academic misconduct
Students do not need to request for compensation to be applied. If you are eligible for compensation, it will be granted automatically by the Assessment Board when your academic record is reviewed for progression to the next year of study.
You can find full details about the maximum amount of compensation that can be applied and important limits and conditions in section 4.7.1 of the Assessment Regulations and in section 4.7.1 of the Contingency Senate Regulations for Assessment and Conferment of Awards 2020/21.
When will compensation be applied?
Compensation can only be applied at the point of progression or award i.e. once all the final grades for an academic year are published. This is normally at the end of the Spring or Summer terms.
What if I have more than one module that is eligible for compensation?
Where more than one module is eligible for compensation, the module with the higher/highest mark will be compensated.
Discounting of credits
Where you pass your current stage during 2020/21 academic year and depending on your programme, we will discount (not include) up to the lowest 30 credits of modules (from the 2020/21 academic year) from the stage’s contribution to your final classification.
- For full time students who pass their stage we will discount the lowest 30 credits of modules from that stage’s contribution to the final classification.
- Where students have achieved fewer than 120 credits during the 2020/21 academic year and are eligible, discounting will be applied on a pro rata basis calculated using the number of credits achieved, if this is in the best interest of the student. For example, part-time students or students who have previously interrupted and returned in 2020/21.
- Where relevant, fractions of modules will be considered when calculating marks, if that is the best approach for students. For example, where a student has their lowest mark in a 15 credit module and their second lowest in a 30 credit module, a calculated average the 15 credit module and half of the 30 credit module will be discounted.
- Where students have more than 120 credits, discounting will be applied to 120 credits only, using the lowest 30 credit of modules.
Please note the following exceptions:
- there will be some programmes that have exceptions to this due to professional body requirements or non-standard credit structures.
- students who are undertaking partial repeat years will not have any change to their credit calculations as their current modules are already covered by last year’s safety net.
- modules with academic misconduct penalty marks will not form part of the eligible credits discounted from the 2020/21 year’s average.
- for dissertations or equivalent major projects that qualify and are larger than 30 credits, the discounting will only apply to up to 30 credits from that module, if that is the best approach for students.
- when it cannot be demonstrated that the learning outcomes of the modules in the programme stage have been satisfied.
Students do not need to request for their lowest credit to be discounted. If you are eligible, your lowest credits will be discounted automatically by the Assessment Board when your academic record is reviewed for progression to the next year of study.
Research Degree Students
Mitigating the Impacts of Covid-19 on your Studies in 2020/21 (Research Degrees)
The following outlines what City is doing to support doctoral researchers to succeed, progress and effectively undertake your studies in 2020/21:
- To support students whose studies been generally affected by the ongoing pandemic we have re-designed how we deliver our programmes and have moved taught elements of your research degree online
- Where your programme contains taught elements, these are now being delivered online. These include any programme of research seminars which take place in your Department or Research Centre. Where this applies to you, you will have been notified directly by your School.
- Our researcher development programme of workshops to support and develop your research skills are also being delivered online. You can find a full list of available session on Research Manager.
- To ensure that your exams are not unfairly impacted by unforeseen effects of the pandemic we have moved our examination processes online. You can now submit your thesis as an electronic copy and undertake your viva voce examination online:
- All examination procedures have been moved online; you are now only required to submit an electronic copy of your thesis for examination in most cases.
- If the scope or methodology of your research project has been impacted, you are now able to include a COVID-19 Impact Statement at the start of your thesis to summarise the impacts for your examiners and any future readers of the thesis. Please note that the academic standards expected of your thesis remain the same. The statement template is available here.
- If your viva voce or oral examination is upcoming, this will now take place remotely using Microsoft Teams/Zoom. Your examination may be delayed at your request, or if the examiners feel the format of the thesis means it is not suitable to be examined remotely.
- To support you to progress and complete we have agreed that all doctoral researchers enrolled in 2020/21 are entitled to a fee-free three-month extension of candidature to account for disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- This extension can be used to delay an interim progression milestone, such as MPhil to PhD Transfer, to extend your thesis submission deadline, or to extend the deadline for any thesis amendment you may be required to complete. You should contact your Course Officer to request the Extension of Candidature (Coronavirus) form is added to your RaP record.
- Where you have come to the end of your fee-free three-month extension and the disruption caused by the pandemic is ongoing, your School will consider additional extension requests on a case-by-case basis. Where you are on a studentship funded by City or a UK Research Council, approved extension requests will see your funding extended for the same period.
Academic Misconduct is any action that produces an improper advantage for you in relation to your assessment(s) or deliberately and unnecessarily disadvantages other students. It can be committed intentionally or accidentally. City actively pursues all cases of suspected misconduct. For more information, please see the Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy and Guidance.
For assessments relating to the 2020/21 academic year:
- Academic Misconduct Panels and investigations may be conducted in-person, online (by Zoom or Teams) and by correspondence. This means that, where it is reasonable and justifiable to do so, Academic Misconduct investigations and Panels can take place via written statements provided by a student.
- Academic Misconduct Panels may also take place in the absence of a student. For example, where:
- there is a high number of potentially related cases within the same module, programme or School;
- where legitimate adjustments and considerations are required to ensure the process is accessible and runs fairly;
- where there are specific equality needs, and/or where reasonable adjustments are required.
Academic Misconduct Panels may take place in the student’s absence in accordance with section 2.11.3 of the Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy and Guidance and Section 5.7 of the Contingency Senate Regulations for Assessment and Conferment of Awards 2020/21.
Modules failed due to academic misconduct cannot be compensated or discounted.
If you need any further support throughout your assessments and studies, please remember that staff in your School and in our Student Support Services are here for you.
Support available to you
There are many support services available to you and we encourage you to engage with these to give you the best chance of future success at City.
- If you would like support with your study skills: City’s Academic Skills team are offering a wide-ranging series of online Academic Skills Tutorials and Workshops. These are free and you can choose the sessions that best address your needs. You can find information on these and access study skills guides here. If you have any further questions regarding the sessions, you can contact LEaD directly via ALS@city.ac.uk
- If you don’t have access to technology, WiFi or data: If this impacts on your ability to successfully study you can apply for the Digital Inclusion Fund and you may receive money or vouchers towards the cost of items you need. Please ensure you include how the lack of access to technology, WiFi or data impacted on your ability to study or pass the module in your application.
- If you need support with your wellbeing, mental health or have any specific support queries you can find a list of all our support services here.
- If you have any general questions or worries: You can contact your Course Officer. Your Course Officer is here to help, so if you have any questions or worries, please do make contact via email or by phone. Your Course Officer might not always be able to help you themselves, but they will do their best to direct you to the right person or team at the University who can.