Assessment FAQs

The following FAQs answer questions about the summer assessment period and the undergraduate In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP), including information about deferrals, sitting online assessments and how you may be affected by the situation.

Deferrals, extensions and exceptional circumstances 

Please review the extensions, deferrals and exceptional circumstances guidance for more detailed information. The deferral form can be accessed from the deferral webpage.  

What are my options if I can't take part in online assessments, or it’s difficult for me to do so?

We’re taking a permissive and flexible approach to deferrals and extensions with assessments during this challenging time. We recognise that various events out of your control may interfere and interrupt with your ability to undertake online assessments, including the lack of a quiet workspace, issues with equipment and connection, the need to care for dependents, and personal sickness.  

This is why you can choose to defer your assessment(s) without the need to provide evidence. Short term extensions will also be considered for assessments longer than 24 hours, even if evidence is not readily available. 

LSE’s Financial Support Office (financial-support@lse.ac.uk) can provide you with advice and guidance about the financial support available to you. LSE has a financial support fund to assist students, with details including eligibility criteria available on the LSE website.  

The LSESU Advice Service is also able to provide up to £200 for the purchase of a laptop or computer if you do not have home access to either and cannot afford to purchase one yourself. Apply to LSESU hardship fund if you need support – but please note that the fund is means tested. 

If I defer an assessment when will it be due? What format will the deferred assessment take?

  • Undergraduate students

    If you have deferred any assessments in 2019/20, you will sit your deferred assessment(s) in the In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). For 2020, the IRDAP will now be held from 27 July to 17 August 2020. A course-by-course schedule of IRDAP assessments will be released ahead of the IRDAP.

    If you defer an assessment from the IRDAP 2020, you will be expected to take your deferred assessment at the next suitable opportunity, which will be the equivalent assessment period for the original assessment in 2020/21 (e.g. if you are deferring a May/June 2020 assessment, it will be scheduled to take place in May/June 2021).

    Assessments taking place in the 2020 IRDAP will be online. Any assessments you were originally due to sit as on-campus exams in May/June 2020 will take the same format as the replacement assessment, unless you are advised otherwise by the department. The format for deferred and resit January exams and coursework taking place in IRDAP 2020 will be confirmed by the department responsible for the course.

  • Postgraduate students

    The next suitable opportunity to defer will be in the equivalent assessment period in 2020/21 (if you are deferring a May/June assessment, it will be scheduled to take place in May/June 2021). 

    Unless the School is unable to run the assessment as planned, you will be expected to take the assessment format as outlined in the 2020/21 course guide.

  • Deferred assessments in 2020/21

    LSE is aiming to run on-site, traditional closed examinations as normal next year. This means that students deferring to the 2020/21 exam and assessment period will, where possible, sit on-site, closed exams for courses where this is outlined as the method of assessment in the course guide.

    However, some departments may opt to keep this form of assessment for some courses, if it has worked well. If a department were to make a change to the mode of assessment for a course, they would need to give deferred students plenty of notice. Whatever form the assessment takes, deferred students will be examined on the course syllabus that they last received teaching for. 

If I defer my assessment(s) to the 2020/21 academic year, how will this affect pre-requisites for next year? Do I assume that I have completed the year and apply to next year’s courses as usual?

If you defer your assessment to 2020/21, you should be aware that your academic progression may be affected and that students can normally only carry a maximum of one unit’s worth of deferred or failed courses into the following year of study.

Undergraduate deferrals

Undergraduate students who deferred any assessment in 2019/20 will be entered to take their outstanding assessments in the next In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). For deferred 2019/20 assessments, the IRDAP period runs from 27 July to 17 August 2020.

The IRDAP allows students to attempt to meet the progression requirements in time for the start of the next academic year. If you have not yet progressed when you receive your results on 16 July, but may be able to progress once you complete IRDAP, you can select your courses for your next year of study from 16 July as normal. For any students unable to progress following IRDAP, Student Services will remove the 2020/21 courses from your record. You will normally be removed from any selected courses and expected to take outstanding assessment during the following academic year as an unregistered candidate.

More details about re-entry can be found on the re-entry webpages and information about what happens if you are unable to progress can be found at this link

If I defer my assessment(s) to the In-year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) 2020, will I be capped?

Any first attempt at an assessment that you defer from the Summer Term assessment period to the IRDAP will not be capped at a pass. You will receive the grade that you achieve in the assessment.

If you are deferring a resit attempt this will be capped at pass. 

Will I still need evidence to request a deferral?

These are extraordinary circumstances, and we fully support individuals’ decisions to take assessment when it feels most suitable for you, depending on your personal situation. You will not need to provide evidence to defer, and you can do so by completing the deferral form.

Please view the deferrals webpage for full guidance and to read the policy.  

Why can’t LSE apply two-week extensions to all summative coursework and dissertations?

Because students have different circumstances as to why they may require an extension, it is better to grant extensions when they are needed and on a case-by-case basis rather than applying a universal extension for all. Some students may not require extra time and so it could lead to a lack of equity across the student body. 

It may sometimes be better to defer the assessment to another time rather than struggle with a new deadline. No evidence will be required for any course deferral, whether it’s a pre-existing summative assessment or an assessment that has replaced a Summer Term exam. 

We will also ensure we review past student performance data at the time of marking to identify and where appropriate adjust for anomalies in the performance of students during the Summer 2020 assessment periods.

Exceptional Circumstances (ECs) can also be submitted for specific circumstances that affect any or all of your assessments. ECs must be submitted within either seven calendar days of your last assessment during the May/June assessment period and five calendar days of your last IRDAP assessment.

Has the exceptional circumstances (ECs) guidance changed?

The evidence requirements for Exceptional Circumstances have also been simplified. All examiners will assume a general level of COVID-19 related disruption to students’ preparation for and performance in assessment. This will include: 

  • Increased stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic
  • Reduced contact with friends and family 
  • Lack of access to physical resources (libraries)
  • Classes moving to online teaching
  • Academic advice moving online.

Students do not need to submit exceptional circumstances for the impact of these general circumstances. Instead, examiners will review course marks against historical performance data and adjust marks upwards where they find variations in the performance of this year’s cohort.

However, Exam Boards cannot assume or predict how individual circumstances might have affected you. For this reason you should submit ECs if you feel your performance has been affected by circumstances that have impacted you as an individual.

Will my deferred IRDAP assessment be capped?

If you have deferred your first attempt at any assessment to IRDAP, you will not be capped.

Can I request an extension for my IRDAP assessment?

You can request extensions for any assessments you are attempting in IRDAP that are longer than 24 hours, in line with the updated guidance for Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances.

Please note that extensions in IRDAP are limited and cannot be granted beyond the last day of the IRDAP itself (Monday 17 August 2020). This is to ensure that there is adequate time for your assessment(s) to be marked. If you feel this does not provide you with adequate time, you should consider deferring your assessment to the next academic year.

Can I submit Exceptional Circumstances (ECs) for my IRDAP assessments?

If you feel anything has affected your assessment performance during the IRDAP you can submit ECs for this in line with the updated guidance for Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances. Please note that the deadline for submitting ECs for IRDAP assessments is five calendar days after your final IRDAP assessment.

I don’t think I can take my assessment(s) in IRDAP this year - can I defer?

You can defer your IRDAP assessment(s) in line with the updated guidance for Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances.

You will need to wait until your final results are released on Thursday 16 July 2020 before deferring your IRDAP assessment(s).


Provisional marks and final results

When can I expect to receive my provisional results?

Provisional 2019/20 course marks for undergraduate students will be released via email on 9 July 2020 to allow you as much time as possible to prepare for any assessments due during the In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) if necessary.

Information for 12-month MSc provisional results are available online.

I’ve received provisional fail marks for one or more courses - how do I discuss my provisional marks?

It is not possible for staff to enter into correspondence about provisional marks. Provisional marks are processed through a robust scrutiny process and so are unlikely to change. You are unable to challenge, appeal or request an administrative mark check against provisional marks.

If you are an undergraduate student and have attempts remaining, you will be expected to attempt your assessment(s) within the IRDAP.

If you are expecting to attempt an assessment during the IRDAP, you should receive feedback on any failed assessments from the relevant academic department(s) shortly after provisional results are released.

Once final results have been released, you will receive a Results Advice email with additional information about your options if your results prevent you from progressing to the next year of your studies or being awarded your degree.

Final year undergraduates who have attempted but failed any assessment(s) will only be eligible to resit these if they cannot be awarded their degree. Further information can be found in the relevant Classification Scheme.

When can I expect to receive my final results?

Final results will be confirmed by the exam boards and published in LSE for You on either Thursday 16 July 2020 or Monday 16 November 2020, depending on your programme. Take a look at the results webpage for further information.

Final results for undergraduates sitting assessments in the In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) will be published on Monday 21 September 2020.


I am an undergraduate student and I have questions about sitting assessments in the IRDAP

How will the assessment schedule be designed and when will it be released?

The 2020 IRDAP will run from 27 July to 17 August 2020 and all assessments will be taken online.

The course-by-course online assessment schedule will be published on 9 July 2020. Deadlines for other summative coursework including dissertations will be released by departments in due course.

The online IRDAP assessments have varying durations that have been designed to give you the flexibility to plan and balance the tasks required across the whole assessment period.

When scheduling IRDAP assessments we will, where possible, make the spacing of assessment as equitable as possible. Where assessment dates overlap, you will notice that the amount of time you are expected to work on assessment (the ‘approximate effort required’ column within the schedule) is much shorter than the total time given to complete the assessment (the ‘duration of assessment window’ column). 

This is because the schedule will be designed to give you the flexibility to work on assessments in your own time, so that you can approach completing and submitting your assessments in a balanced and manageable way.

Whilst there may be some overlap for some assessments you are taking, you will still have plenty of time to complete your assessments.

How long should I spend on an IRDAP assessment, and what if some students spend more time completing assessments than others?

Where coursework or 24-hour assessments have replaced exams, the assessments are designed to be fully completed within a specific number of hours as outlined in the assessment schedule, and not the entire period between release and the submission deadline. This gives you the flexibility to plan and balance the tasks required across the whole assessment period, allowing you to fit those time allocations within the weeks available. 

Because many assessments will be available for longer than is needed to complete them, some students may spend longer on a given assignment than others. However, there will be no advantage to this. Students who meet criteria for their specific assessment(s), such as showing understanding of a topic and an ability to respond logically to the question or task, will gain the marks they need.

This is regardless of whether another student submits a more polished piece of work because of the extra time they have taken to revise their content. When an assignment is marked, it is clear how long has been spent on it, especially when something has been drafted and re-written, and this is not the basis on which your work will be assessed. It will be to no advantage to students to spend more time than the indicated amount of effort required to complete the task.   

For assessments with a word limit, this is simply setting a maximum - it’s not the length of the assignment you are expected to write. In typical written exams, students write different amounts and this will apply in assessments this year too. Faculty will be marking, with revised mark schemes, as if you were sitting an exam with some extra thinking time, not writing a long coursework assignment. Quality of ideas is always better than quantity.

How will Individual Exam Adjustments apply to online assessments?

If you have an Inclusion Plan, online assessments have been designed to be inclusive. This means that the adjustments that you may require for traditional exams should not be necessary. The full IRDAP assessment period should give everyone the opportunity to complete their tasks at a time and within a timeframe that is appropriate to their individual circumstances.

The option to apply for short-term Individual Exam Adjustments also remains in place if students’ needs change, or if they face new challenges and require different adjustments as a result of the move to online assessments. However, as for long-term IEAs, there are very limited adjustments which are appropriate for the online assessments.

View the full updated guidance on the Individual Exam Adjustment web pages

If you have a disability or long-term health condition and you do not have an Inclusion Plan or IEAs in place, please visit the DWS webpages

What resources are available to me to help me undertake online learning and assessment?

There are lots of resources to support you in your online learning, and to prepare for completing assessments online.  

  • LSE LIFE 
    LSE LIFE is running online one-to-one sessions, workshops and has a large collection of online resources to help you prepare for your assessments. Find details of the support available to you on the LSE website
  • LSE Library 
    The Library has lots of support and resources available online, as well as guidance on conducting primary research online
  • Departmental support
    Your department are here to support you during this time. Get in touch with your academic mentor, department tutor and departmental staff if there is anything you would like to discuss.
  • Online learning and assessment guides 
    There are several resources available to help you prepare for completing assessments online, including how to enrol for Moodle courses and submit assessments. View the collection of assessment resources online.

There is also lots of guidance and advice you may wish to explore to get a fuller understanding of the process this year and advice on practical matters: 

What happens if I have technical issues submitting my assessment?

We have undertaken work to ensure the robustness of our systems in readiness for IRDAP online assessments to reduce the likeliness of you facing technical difficulties. 

If you have a technical issue not related to Moodle, the IT Helpdesk will be operating weekdays 8am–5.30pm (BST) and Saturdays 8am-3pm (BST), excluding UK bank holidays. Support is available at Tech.Support@lse.ac.uk

We advise you to review this Moodle guidance, so you can familiarise yourself with the platform ready in readiness for submitting assessments.

You can review further information about using Moodle via this student guidance for supported online learning

Guides include how to upload timed 24-hour assignments and guidance on uploading take-home and coursework assessments as well as instructions for what to do if something goes wrong. It is important that you follow the guidance to ensure that your work is safely received on time.

 
What if I have financial concerns?  

My finances have been impacted by the current situation. What financial support is available for students?

We recognise that some students may be facing additional financial pressures, and LSE and LSESU have support mechanisms in place to support students who may need financial help. 

LSE’s Financial Support Office (financial-support@lse.ac.uk) can provide you with advice and guidance, and we also have a financial support fund to assist students, with details including eligibility criteria available on the LSE website

The LSESU Advice Service can provide up to £200 for the purchase of a laptop or computer if you do not have home access to either and cannot afford to purchase one yourself. Apply to LSESU hardship fund if you need support – but please note that the fund is means tested. 

If you have concerns about paying tuition fees, or if you are experiencing any difficulties that are preventing you from making payment, please let us know as soon as possible by emailing fees@lse.ac.uk so that we can support you. 

 
What if I'm on a Tier 4 visa?

I’m on a Tier 4 visa and have questions about how I will be affected. Who should I talk to?

Information about visas and immigration is available on the coronavirus immigration advice webpage - check this resource first as lots of commonly-asked questions are answered there.

If you have further questions, please contact the International Student Visa Advice Team (ISVAT) using their online ISVAT query form.

 
What is LSE’s no disadvantage approach and why we are not taking a mechanical no detriment approach? 

What are the specific actions LSE is taking to ensure students are not disadvantaged, and how will they impact grades and marks?

We have adjusted the assessment process for Summer 2020 by putting a range of measures in place to ensure we are not disadvantaging students when they attempt assessments, whilst also maintaining equity and the value of LSE degrees. This is LSE’s approach to ensuring no student is at detriment, which is tailored to our specific School context.    

We are committed to providing you both  the flexibility and support to take assessment when it feels most suitable for you, depending on your personal situation.   

We have taken into account the circumstances you may be facing as a result of COVID-19 in a number of ways, as outlined by the revised assessment schedules and flexible methods of assessment we have introduced. We have also:   

  • Committed to reviewing past student performance data at the time of marking to identify and where appropriate adjust for anomalies in the performance of students during the Summer 2020 assessment periods. Where the examiners determine it was necessary to make an adjustment as a result of COVID-19 circumstances, marks could only be adjusted upwards and not down.
  • Adjusted the Extension policy, relaxing the requirement for evidence where it is not possible for students to provide it. Removed the evidence requirement for requesting a deferral so that students can more easily opt-out of taking some or all of their assessments, with no penalty. The deferral form is available on the LSE website. 
  • Simplified the Exceptional Circumstances policy, relaxing the requirement for evidence in some circumstances and increasing the criteria around borderline mark profiles to allow more students to qualify for the consideration of being awarded higher degrees. 

These measures, along with our reframing of all closed book exams into accessible assessment types that can be completed within longer assessment windows, make up LSE’s approach to no  disadvantage to attempting summer assessments. You can find out more information at this link.

Why is LSE not introducing a mechanical no-detriment policy?

LSE looked carefully at the idea of developing a mechanical ‘no detriment’ calculation based on marks in completed summative assessment. 
 
However, it would not be equitable for students at LSE to introduce a mechanical no-detriment policy, which is why we are instead introducing a range of measures across our policies to inform our no disadvantage approach.

The main reason mechanical no detriment is not equitable at LSE is because of the varied pattern of assessment across our School.  

Students have a large amount of choice in the courses they can take during their time at LSE:

  • In 2019/2020 there are 3,875 different combinations of courses taken by postgraduate students in year one, with 89% of combinations containing a single student and therefore a unique combination.
  • For LSE's 5,045 undergraduate students, the unique combinations are 53%, 74% and 91% for years one, two and three.

Because of this choice, students have highly varied patterns of assessment, with a focus on end of year exams in significant volumes.   

In 2019/2020, this means that for students who would have sat exams in the Summer Term and have  completed assessments that have been redesigned due to COVID-19:  

  • Only 3% have enough assessments outside of the Summer Term assessment period that are appropriately weighted for all courses to apply a no detriment approach. 
  • 15% do not have any assessments weighted 50% or more outside the Summer Term assessment period for any course to inform a no detriment approach. That’s 1597 students.
  • 41% only have enough assessments for 25% or less of their courses outside the Summer Term assessment period to inform a no detriment approach. That’s 4367 students.
  • 50% have less than 50% of their courses with enough assessments outside the Summer Term assessment period to inform a no detriment approach.  That’s 5264 students.
  • For 70% of students in the Summer Term assessment period cohort, no detriment would only be applicable to 50% or less of their courses.
  • Figures also show that many postgraduate students will have dissertations to complete over the summer, making the no-detriment approach even less applicable to the student body than the above statistics suggest.

This is why at LSE, a no disadvantage approach - which is a range of measures across the entire assessment period - is the best way to ensure equity for all students.

If other institutions are able to offer a no detriment approach, why can’t LSE?

LSE appreciates that some other institutions have decided to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy for the treatment of their students’ performance in upcoming assessments. We have looked at a number of options from other institutions in the Russell Group and have weighed up what a ‘no detriment’ approach could look like for LSE. We looked at many approaches across UK institutions to help inform our approach to assessments, and considered all options carefully during this process.  

The form of no detriment being used at some other universities, which LSE looked at carefully, involves final course marks being based on completed summative coursework. But many LSE students take courses that are assessed 100% by end-of-year exams/assessments: 1597 students (15%) do not have any assessments weighted 50% or more outside the Summer Term assessment period for any course to inform a no detriment approach. It would be inequitable for LSE students on courses with completed summative coursework to have their final course marks based on that coursework, without the need to complete the Summer Term online assessment. This is because this option could not be offered to students on courses assessed 100% by end-of-year assessment, as there is nothing on which their final mark could be based. In many cases, it would also be difficult for students to demonstrate that they had achieved the overall learning outcomes from the course without taking the final assessment.   

Another approach to addressing this is to base marks on previous years’ performance. LSE looked at this option carefully but concluded that awarding a final mark for one course based on performance in another course (or courses) is academically unsound because of the different types of pedagogy that underpins different courses. This would also undermine academic standards at LSE and the same principle applies to the proposal to automatically award a 2:2 classification as a safety net to all students. Instead, our focus has been on finding the best options for supporting students through the assessment period and maintaining standards to benefit students.  

Another university's policy divides courses into two types: those that have at least 50% assessed by summative coursework, and those with less than 50% assessed in this way. For type 1 courses, students will have their final marks calculated on whichever is the higher of their combined total assessments or just their assessed coursework. For type 2 courses, students’ final marks for courses will be based on many of the approaches we have adopted here at LSE: adjusted weighting of Summer Term assessments, scaling marks on particular papers where anomalies are identified and adjusting classification boundaries. The difference at LSE is that we are applying our approach to all students, to ensure a fair and equitable assessment period for all rather than a two-tier system that it would create at our School.      

The approach that other universities have adopted are unique to their structure and regulatory frameworks. One such university has decided to classify finalists based on their previous year’s classification. This is an approach that is unique to that university because of the way they classify their degrees: each year of study is classified, rather than students’ overall performance, as here at LSE.  

No detriment is a ‘one size fits all’ approach that, for the reasons to do with the varied assessment patterns across our degree programmes (see ‘Why is LSE not introducing a mechanical no-detriment policy?’, above), cannot be equitably applied to all taught students. To produce final marks for those courses assessed 100% by end-of-year assessment would result in practices that, in the School’s view, would undermine the value of your degrees (for example, by combining marks from completed courses to determine a mark for a course in which no assessment has yet been attempted). While the School is ensuring we have supportive arrangements for students in place during the Summer Term assessment period, we are also concerned with making sure that your degree maintains its value across your future lives and careers.