Mitigating the Impacts of Covid-19 on your Studies in 2020/21

Important information from 6th September 2021

The information available on this Hub page and Mitigations outlined below NO LONGER APPLY.

As of the 6 September 2021, the University has now reinstated our Senate Regulations.

This page is now for your information only.

If you have outstanding assessments relating to 2020/21 academic year, details on arrangements which may apply to you can be found in our Student Guidance Document.

Full details on the Assessment Regulations (Senate Regulation 19) that have now been reinstated can be found in the Assessment Regulations (Senate Regulation 19) document.

Our Extenuating Circumstances Policy can also be found in our Extenuating Circumstances Policy 2021/22 document.

In 2020/21, we:

  • 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.

We recognise that the on-going pandemic in 2020/21, particularly the increasingly strict local lockdowns ending in the third national lockdown in the United Kingdom, increased the pressure on some of you. City’s main objective is for our students to succeed and we made 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 into the future.

Working closely with the Students’ Union, we developed some additional measures/action to support you, and protected the value of your final qualification: the ‘Main mitigation package’ and the ‘Exceptional programme package’.

The ‘Main mitigation package’ applied to most of you in 2020/21 and is outlined below.

The ‘Exceptional programme package’ will apply where there were additional considerations such as PSRB requirements or non-standard credit structures. The ‘Exceptional programme package’  included, where relevant, elements of theMain mitigation package’.

There were four parts to the ‘Main mitigation package’ which recognised the different ways students' performances may have been impacted as a result of the pandemic.

  1. To support those of you who may have been individually affected by extenuating circumstances, we relaxed our rules on evidence for Extenuating Circumstances claims and streamlined the approval process.
  2. 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 reviewed your marks. We did so in Term 1 by holding Interim Assessment Panels.
  3. To support students who have been generally affected by the current exceptional circumstances we, where possible increased 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.
  4. Where you pass your current stage during 2020/21 academic year and depending on your programme, we discounted up to your lowest 30 credits of modules (from the 2020/21 academic year), from the stage’s contribution to your final classification.

There were some programmes that have exceptions to this due to professional body requirements or non-standard credit structures. Students who are undertaking partial repeat years did not have any change to their credit calculations as their current modules were already covered by last year’s safety net.

For full details on how the Regulations was applied to students in the 2020/21 academic year, please see the Contingency Senate Regulations for Assessment and Conferment of Awards 2020/21.

You can find more information on the support available to you below.

Students who are undertaking partial repeat years did not have any change to their credit calculations as their current modules were covered by 2020/21 safety rules.

Extenuating Circumstances

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 adjusted our Extenuating Circumstances (EC) approval process.

Students in the 2020/21 academic year were able to:

  1. submit an EC claim for consideration any time up until the last Assessment Board for their programme is held; Or
  2. 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.
  3. After the 7-day deadline the ‘Appeal on the Ground of undisclosed EC’ process will continue to be in place for students to utilise.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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 held Interim Assessment Panels to review the provisional marks following Term 1 assessments. Where appropriate, these panels made recommendations about marks to Assessment Boards later in the year. This could have included a recommendation of ‘scaling’.

Additionally, were it was identified that students may benefit from some additional support (e.g. personal tutor meetings, study skills sessions, and IT support including wifi or data).  They were contacted by their School to discuss:

  • the type of support being recommended. 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 marks.

Please note that in relation to marks, any recommendations such as scaling made by the Interim Assessment Panels were  provisional. Final decisions were made at the end of year Assessment Boards in consultation with the External Examiners for your programme.

Assessment Boards

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 marks, the Interim Assessment Panels reviewed the provisional marks. In some instances, the Panel recommended that the marks for a module needed to be adjusted where there had been factors that showed overall attainment wasnot what we would usually expect.

This is because adjustments were made to module and assessments designs at the start of 2020/21 to support students to progress and succeed.

Scaling could have been considered when:

  1. There was a significant, clearly identifiable and evidenced based issue with an assessment or module.
  2. The range of marks for an assessment or module significantly failed 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 was not in line with what would be expected from past performance on the module;
    • the range of marks was not in line with what has been achieved by the same students registered on other modules at that level;

The above criteria were guidelines for Interim Assessment Panels to consider. Interim Assessment Panels decided when it was appropriate for scaling to be recommended.

Application of scaling:

  • Interim Assessment Panels considered 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 considered that the marks are not an accurate reflection of the expected academic standards achieved by the students, the Board considered taking corrective action by scaling marks.
  • An Interim Assessment Panel could recommend to scale marks down as well as up if that was 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. Should scaling down  be recommended, passing students were not scaled to fail.
  • Academic judgment was used to determine the appropriateness of the recommendation for scaling and senior staff with oversight of Interim Assessment.
  • Panels within each School ensured there was consistency in the approach, to make sure that mitigation is used fairly.
  • If a scaling recommendation was considered, relevant external examiners were 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.

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 expected that the vast majority of students would be able to successfully pass all their modules and would not require compensation. However, due to the impact of the pandemic and to support you, we increased the range of modules that could be compensated across all Schools, where possible.

Please note that professional body requirements and essential learning outcomes must still be satisfied.

Compensation was 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 did not need to request for compensation to be applied. If you were eligible for compensation, it was granted automatically by the Assessment Board when your academic record was reviewed for progression to the next year of study.

Full details about the maximum amount of compensation that could have been applied and important limits and conditions were published 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 was compensation be applied?

Compensation was only 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 had 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 was compensated.

Discounting of credits

Where students passed their current stage during the 2020/21 academic year and depending on their programme, we discounted (did not include) up to the lowest 30 credits of modules (from the 2020/21 academic year) from the stage’s contribution to the final classification.

  • For full time students who passed their stage we discounted the lowest 30 credits of modules from that stage’s contribution to the final classification.
  • Where students achieved fewer than 120 credits during the 2020/21 academic year and were eligible, discounting was applied on a pro rata basis calculated using the number of credits achieved, if this was 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 were considered when calculating marks, if that was the best approach for students. For example, where a student had 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 was discounted.
  • Where students have more than 120 credits, discounting was applied to 120 credits only, using the lowest 30 credit of modules.

Please note the following exceptions:

  • there were some programmes that had exceptions to this due to professional body requirements or non-standard credit structures.
  • students who  undertook partial repeat years did not have any change to their credit calculations as the relevant modules were already covered by 2020/21 safety net rules.
  • modules with academic misconduct penalty marks did not form part of the eligible credits discounted from the 2020/21 year’s average.
  • for dissertations or equivalent major projects that qualified and were larger than 30 credits, the discounting only applied to up to 30 credits from that module, if that was the best approach for students.
  • when it  could not be demonstrated that the learning outcomes of the modules in the programme stage have been satisfied.

Students did not need to request for their lowest credit to be discounted. If you were eligible, your lowest credits was discounted automatically by the Assessment Board when your academic record was 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 did to support doctoral researchers to succeed, progress and effectively undertake their studies in 2020/21:

  • To support students whose studies been generally affected by the ongoing pandemic we re-designed how we deliver our programmes and moved taught elements of your research degree online
    • Where your programme contained taught elements, these were delivered online. These included any programme of research seminars which took place in your Department or Research Centre. Where this applied, students were notified directly by their School.
    • Our researcher development programme of workshops to support and develop your research skills were also delivered online.  A full list of available session were available on Research Manager.
  • To ensure that your exams were not unfairly impacted by unforeseen effects of the pandemic we moved our examination processes online. Students could submit their  thesis as an electronic copy and undertake their viva voce examination online:
    • All examination procedures were moved online; students were only required to submit an electronic copy of your thesis for examination in most cases.
    • If the scope or methodology of your research project was impacted, you were 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.
    • Viva voce or oral examination took take place remotely using Microsoft Teams/Zoom. Your examination could also be delayed at your request, or if the examiners feel the format of the thesis means it was not suitable to be examined remotely.
  • To support you to progress and complete we agreed that all doctoral researchers enrolled in 2020/21 were entitled to a fee-free three-month extension of candidature to account for disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:
    • This extension could 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 were required to complete.
    • Where you came to the end of your fee-free three-month extension and the disruption caused by the pandemic is ongoing, your School considered additional extension requests on a case-by-case basis. Where you were on a studentship funded by City or a UK Research Council, approved extension requests meant that your funding was extended for the same period.

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 [email protected]
  • 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.