Assessment FAQs

The following FAQs answer questions about the summer assessment period, including information about deferrals, sitting online assessments and how you may be affected by the situation. 

This page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. 

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 Term by putting a range of measures in place to ensure we are not disadvantaging students, whilst 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 with 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 individual circumstances you may be facing in a number of ways, as outlined by the revised assessment schedule and flexible methods of assessment we have introduced. We are also:   

  • Revising our approach to marking, and reviewing past student performance data at the time of marking to identify and adjust for anomalies in the performance of students during the Summer Term 2020 assessment period. Marks will only be adjusted up because of this review and not down.
  • Adjusting the Extension policy, relaxing the requirement for evidence where it is not possible for students to provide it.
  • Moving to self-certified deferral for students, so that students can more easily opt-out of taking some or all of their assessments now, with no penalty. The deferral form is available on the LSE website.
  • Extending and simplifying the Exceptional Circumstances policy, relaxing the requirement for evidence in some circumstances and more generously defining borderline mark profiles.

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 no disadvantage approach. 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 Summer Term and are now completing 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 do not 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 Russel 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.  

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. 

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 this university because of the way they classify their degrees: each year of study is classified, rather than students’ overall performance, as here at LSE.  

How we can best support students – during both the upcoming assessment period and beyond – has been the subject of ongoing discussion at every level of the School, and our priority as we navigate assessments in 2020. We accept that views amongst our community vary on the best approach, and we have considered suggestions and ideas from across our community.   

To ensure a flexible, equitable and supportive approach that is appropriate for LSE, we have made the following suite of adjustments, which work together to provide a comprehensive and supportive mechanism for assessment in 2020. Through our no disadvantage approach we are:   

  • Revising our approach to marking, and reviewing past student performance data at the time of marking to identify and adjust for anomalies in the performance of students during the Summer Term 2020 assessment period. Marks will only be adjusted up because of this review and not down.
  • Adjusting the Extension policy, relaxing the requirement for evidence where it is not possible for students to provide it.
  • Moving to self-certified deferral for students, so that students can more easily opt-out of taking some or all of their assessments now, with no penalty. The deferral form will be available from Monday 27 April on the LSE website.
  • Extending and simplifying the Exceptional Circumstances policy, relaxing the requirement for evidence in some circumstances and more generously defining borderline mark profiles.

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 no disadvantage approach. You can find out more information at this link

 

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? What format will the assessment take?

Undergraduate students

  • If you defer, you will sit your 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 schedule of individual assessments will be released on 9 July.

    Assessments taking place in the IRDAP will be online, and they will follow the same method of assessment as they would in if you had taken them in the Summer Term 2020 period. 

    You also have the option to defer again to the 2020/21 assessment period.
  • Postgraduate students
    The next suitable opportunity 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). 

    It is expected that you will be assessed using the assessment format as outlined in the course guide if you defer to the 2020/21 .

  • Deferred assessments in 2020/21
    It is expected that LSE will be able 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 sit on-site, closed exams for courses where this is outlined as the method of assessment in the course guide.

    However, some 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 have studied in 2019/20.

    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 about this. 

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 course 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 defer will be entered to take their outstanding assessments in the next In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). For deferred Summer Term 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. Students awaiting IRDAP results should select their courses for their next year of study as normal. Any students unable to progress following IRDAP will normally be removed from any selected courses and expected to take outstanding assessment during the following academic year as an unregistered candidate.

More detailed information about progression and re-entry can be found on the re-entry webpages.

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

No – any assessments 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.

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.  

Will there be extensions for dissertations or coursework?

Your department will be in touch about any changes to submission deadlines for dissertations or coursework that are due between now and summer 2020. Where deadlines have altered, this will give you autonomy over your work schedule so you can plan your assessment timetable in a way that suits you best. 

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 rather than applying 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.  

In addition, 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 are also revising our approach to marking, and reviewing past student performance data at the time of marking to identify and adjust for anomalies in the performance of students during the Summer Term 2020 assessment period. 

Exceptional Circumstances can also be submitted for specific circumstances that affect any or all of your assessments. 

Has the exceptional circumstances (ECs) guidance changed?

The evidence requirements for Exceptional Circumstances relating to COVID-19 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. 

 

I have questions about sitting assessments in Summer Term

Why are some assessment dates earlier than the original exam dates? I have less time to revise for my assessment than I originally thought.

The duration for completing the individual assessments that have replaced on-site Summer Term exams vary from course to course, and have been designed to give you the flexibility to plan and balance the tasks required across the whole assessment period. 

With the new timetable we have, where possible, made the spacing of assessment as equitable as possible, which means that some submissions dates have changed.  

For assessments in which you are given a 24-hour period in which to complete your assessment, the date is the same as it would have been if you sat the assessment as an in-person examination.  

However, it has not been possible to keep all assessment submission dates the same. Where exams were replaced by longer coursework pieces, some release and submission dates have had to change to accommodate their new format. 

Whilst this may mean some of your assessments are earlier that you may have expected, these alterations help to ensure that students aren’t overloaded with work in a short timeframe and giving students enough time to complete all assessments was our priority in designing the timetable. 

Why do two of my assessments overlap with one another?

There are 650 assessments taking place in over the course of the Summer Term assessment period. Scheduling these different formats - some of which take place over 24 hours, and others over several weeks - means that whilst we have maximised spacing between assessments where possible, there are some assessments that may overlap.

Where this is the case, you will notice that the amount of time you are expected to work on assessment (the ‘approximate effort required’ column within the timetable) is much shorter than the total time given to complete the assessment (the ‘duration of assessment window’ column).  

This is because the timetable has been designed to give you the flexibility to work on assessments when suits you, so that you can approach completing and submitting your assessments in a balanced and manageable way. 

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

How long should I spend on an assessment, and what if 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 submission. 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 has been allocated.    

For assessments with a word limit, this is a maximum - it’s not the length of the assignment you should 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?

 Students with specific and complex requirements are in touch with their advisers in the Disability and Wellbeing Service and are being supported on an individual basis. Many of the new online assessments have been designed to be inclusive, so the adjustments that students require for traditional exams will not be necessary. The full assessment period should give each student the opportunity to complete their tasks at a time and within a timeframe that is appropriate to their individual circumstances.  

The mechanism for applying 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 in the move to 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 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 here to support your learning and research, with support and resources now online. The library also has 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 here.

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 are working to ensure the robustness of our systems in readiness for online assessment to reduce the likeliness of you facing technical difficulties. We are finalising what online support will look like in the unlikely event that you have trouble accessing or submitting your assessment(s). 

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 readyness 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

 

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.