Online assessment at LSE

Assessment FAQs

The following FAQs answer questions about sitting online assessments for 2020/21.

All assessments in Summer Term and the undergraduate In-year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) 2021 will take place online.

Preparing for online assessment

When will the Summer Term 2021 online assessment schedule be released?

The course-by-course assessment schedule for the Summer Term online assessment period will be published on 25 March 2021. All assessments taken in the Summer Term and undergraduate In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) will take place online.

What format will my online assessments be?

Online assessments will replace in-person Summer Term exams and will be delivered in the following formats to suit the learning objectives of the course: 

  • Time limited assessments with a common start/finish time for all students (12 noon, GMT)
  • Time limited assessments to be taken at any time within a 24-hour window
  • 24-hour assessments
  • 48-hour assessments
  • 72-hour assessments
  • One-week assessments
  • Two-week assessments
  • Three-week assessments
  • Longer coursework pieces
  • Oral exams

Timings for all assessments will be given in GMT. Your academic department(s) will provide more information about the format of assessments to help you prepare. You will also be given guidance on how long to spend on assessments to be taken over a 24-hour period or longer to complete them.

The aim of these longer assessments is to provide you with as much flexibility as possible to plan and manage your time during assessment periods.

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

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

    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 LIFE 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 is 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. We would encourage you to refer to the collection of Student Guidance for Support Learning Online (including online assessments) resources.

We are mindful of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our community, and that some may be finding it more challenging than others. Alongside academic support, there’s also help and advice available to help you look after your wellbeing, and financial support at LSE.   

The full range of support available to you is available on the assessment support package webpages.  

What if I do not have the equipment needed for online assessments and I am struggling with my finances?

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

LSE’s Financial Support Office can provide financial assitance to those who need it, and the team run drop-in sessions for advice and guidance that are open to all. The Students’ Union also has a support fund to help with the cost of a laptop or computer. Here’s where to find support: 


Sitting online assessments

How long should I spend on an online assessment?

For time-limited assessments: 

All students will be given the same maximum period of time to complete these assessments. These time allocations will be specified in the assessment schedule. The only exception to this will be for students with an Individual Exam Adjustment (IEA), who may be granted extra time. Departments will also allocate you additional time to upload your assessment.

For assessments to be taken over a 24-hour period or longer: 

All students will be given the duration of the specified assessment window to complete the assessment, but will be provided with guidance on how long they will be expected to work on their assessment within that window.

These longer assessments have been 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. 

What if some students spend more time completing assessments than others?

There will be no advantage to spending longer on an assessment than the amount of specified time it is expected to take to complete. Students who clearly demonstrate their understanding of a topic and an ability to respond logically to the question or task, will gain the marks they need. 

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. 

How will Individual Exam Adjustments apply to online assessments?

If you already have an Inclusion Plan (IP) and/or Individual Exam Adjustments (IEAs) in place, these will be applied to online assessments as follows:

  • Letters of Notification will be provided for all assessments, as specified in the relevant IP/IEA.
  • For time-limited assessments, additional time will be added as specified in the relevant IP/IEA.
  • For asssessments that take place over a 24-hour period or longer: these assessments have been designed to allow each student the flexibility to plan and balance the tasks required across the whole assessment period. As such IEAs granting extra time will not be applied to this format of assessment.

Full guidance for students with IEAs and IPs for Summer 2021 assessments is available at this link
If you have a disability or long-term health condition and you do not have an IP or IEAs in place, please visit the DWS webpages to make the necessary arrangements. 

The option to apply for short-term Individual Exam Adjustments remains in place if your needs change, or if you face new challenges and require different adjustments as a result of the move to online assessments. 

What happens if I have technical issues submitting my assessment?

LSE's Tech Support team will be providing support throughout the summer assessment period. We’re finalising the details of our tech support and we'll update you as soon as we can.

What happens if I submit my assessment late?

We have made significant changes to some key policies and procedures, making it easier and simpler for you to ask for an extension or defer an assessment. If you think you won't be able to meet a deadline, you may wish to consider applying for an extension or a deferral. Please see the Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances student guidance for more information.

Departments will also allocate additional time for you to upload documents for any time-limited assessments (assessments with a duration of less than 24 hours). More information about this assessment upload window is available in the assessment support package overview

However, in order to ensure the academic integrity of the School’s assessments and its awards, it is necessary to apply late mark penalties where an assessment is received after the published deadline or agreed extension. 

A full list of late penalties can be found under the ‘Late Submission Penalties’ section of the assessment discipline and academic misconduct webpage

Students who encounter exceptional difficulties outside of their control that might prevent them submitting on time during the assessment window should submit Exceptional Circumstances within the normal deadline. You may also wish to contact the relevant academic department responsible for the assessment as soon as possible after submission to explain why you were unable to submit on time. 

Note: If there are any professional accreditation requirements, then it is possible the late penalties may differ slightly. This will be confirmed by the department responsible for the course. 

How will LSE ensure that academic integrity is maintained during online assessments?

There are lots of ways LSE is working to ensure that academic integrity is maintained throughout online assessment periods, and that any instances of academic misconduct are either prevented or detected. 

These include our academic regulations, including the LSE Code of Good Practice, LSE plagiarism regulations  and LSE’s regulations on assessment offences other than plagiarism.

When you upload an assessment, you will be asked to indicate your commitment to abide by and uphold these regulations, and any department guidelines. This is known as the Academic Integrity Statement, which can be found on the assessment discipline and academic misconduct webpage

Is LSE using online proctoring for assessments?  

No, LSE will not be using online proctoring services for any assessments taking place in the Summer Term assessment period. Online proctoring uses computer software to detect instances of academic misconduct by monitoring the activity of students sitting assessments. However, LSE already has robust policies in place to counter any attempts of academic misconduct and to ensure academic integrity.  

Read more about how LSE maintains academic integrity for online assessments in the ‘How will LSE maintain academic integrity’ FAQ above. 

I will be sitting time-limited assessments at unsociable hours, due to time zone differences. What is LSE doing to make sure assessments are equitable for students sitting assessments outside of normal working hours?  

We are taking a permissive and flexible approach to deferrals for assessments during this challenging time, with no need to provide evidence of why you wish to defer. By sitting an assessment, you are acknowledging that you are able and well enough to do so (i.e. that you are ‘fit to sit/submit’). 

As such, if you know in advance that sitting an assessment in your time zone will significantly affect your performance, you should consider deferring your assessment(s) to July/August 2021 for undergraduates, and January 2022 for postgraduates. You can find more information on the deferral webpage.  

International students should discuss potential visa implications with LSE’s International Student Visa and Advice Team (ISVAT) before making a decision to defer an assessment. 

If you do sit a time-limited assessment with a common start/finish time for all students (12 noon GMT), but feel that your academic performance was affected in ways that you could not have anticipated, you should submit Exceptional Circumstances (ECs).

As with all ECs, you’ll need to clearly demonstrate how your specific circumstances at the time had a significant detrimental impact on you, and therefore your academic performance. You will also need to outline how the impact was unforeseen and outside of your control.  

For more detailed guidance about the revised policies for ECs as well as examples of the kinds of ECs that might be acceptable to Exam Boards, please refer to the Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances student guidance and the Exceptional Circumstances webpage.  


Extensions, deferrals, and exceptional circumstances 

More information about how we’ve made it easier and simpler for you to ask for an extension, defer an assessment or submit ECs is available in the assessment support package overview

Please review the Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances student guidance for more detailed information.  

What are my options if I can't take one or more of my Summer Term 2021 online assessments, or it’s difficult for me to do so? Can I get an extension, or defer?

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 health issues/concerns.  

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

These more flexible arrangements will be in place for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year (including the summer dissertation period and undergraduate In-year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period). The deferral and extension policies will be reviewed ahead of the January 2022 postgraduate resit and deferred assessment period. They will not apply to the 2021/22 academic year. 

More information about extensions and deferrals is available in our Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances student guidance.

International students should discuss potential visa implications with the LSE International Student Visa and Advice Team (ISVAT) before making a decision to defer an assessment. 

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

If you defer any assessments during 2020/21, you will sit your deferred assessment(s) in the resit and deferred assessment Period relevant for your level of study. The undergraduate In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) will be held in August 2021 and the postgraduate resit and deferred assessment period, which is new for 2020/21 assessments, will be held during the January 2022 exam period.  

Summer Term 2021 assessments and the 2021 undergraduate IRDAP will take place online, but a decision is yet to be taken with regard to the format of the postgraduate January 2022 resit and deferred assessment period. 

I’m an undergraduate student - if I defer my assessment(s) to the IRDAP, do I assume that I have completed the year and apply to next year’s courses as usual?

Students who defer any assessment in 2020/21 will be entered to take their outstanding assessments in the next In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). For deferred 2020/21 assessments, the undergraduate IRDAP will take place between 26 July and 16 August 2021. 

The undergraduate IRDAP allows undergraduate 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 in July 2021, but may be able to progress once you complete IRDAP, you can select your courses for your next year of study as normal.

If you are unable to progress following the IRDAP, Student Services will remove the 2021/22 courses from your record, and you will be expected to take your outstanding assessments during the following academic year as an unregistered candidate. 

I’m in the first/second year of my undergraduate studies – what do I need to pass by the end of the academic year to be able to progress to my next year of study?

Students in their first year of a BA or BSc programme must pass at least three units to be eligible to progress to their second year. Students in their second year of a BA or BSc programme must pass at least seven units from their first and second year combined to be eligible to progress to their third year. A failed unit, a deferred assessment, or an assessment from which you are absent will be counted as a non-passed unit. 

There are different progression rules for the LLB. If you are an LLB student, you should refer to your academic department and information in the LLB Classification Scheme

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

I’m in the final year of my undergraduate studies – do I need to pass all courses in order to be awarded?

As a final year student, you will be awarded a degree if you attempt all assessments and as long as you fail no more than three whole units overall. If you have deferred any assessments, you will need to attempt these before you are eligible for the award of the degree. If, having attempted all assessments you can be classified for a degree then you will be awarded, and you will not be able to resit any failed papers. If you have failed one unit at the point of classification, you will not be penalised. If you fail more than one unit and are awarded a degree, penalty rules may be applied, as outlines in the three year or four year BA/BSc Classification Schemes.
If you cannot be awarded in July, you will be re-entered for all outstanding assessments in the undergraduate IRDAP (26 July-16 August) and awarded in September. 

There are different award rules for the LLB – if you are an LLB student, you should refer to your academic department and information in the LLB Classification Scheme. 

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

If you defer your assessment and sit/submit it for the first time in an undergraduate or postgraduate resit and deferred assessment period, your mark will not be capped.  

If you defer a resit attempt, this will be capped at Pass for the purpose of degree classification. The actual (uncapped) mark that you achieve in the course will be included in your academic transcript. More information about capping can be found on the re-entry webpages

Has the exceptional circumstances (ECs) guidance changed?

The evidence requirements for Exceptional Circumstances (ECs) have been revised for assessments taken during the 2020/21 academic year (including the summer dissertation period and undergraduate In-year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period). This is in recognition of the anticipated challenges students might face when obtaining evidence such as medical notes due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Expanded ECs criteria 

The criteria for submitting ECs have been expanded to formally acknowledge that issues with technology, home working environments and time zones could have a detrimental impact on academic performance. Students submitting ECs relating to these circumstances should provide an explanation of how their working environment, technical issues or time zone has significantly impacted them. 

More information about the changes we've made to the Exceptional Circumstances policy is available in the assessment support package overview. Please review the Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances student guidance for more detailed information.   

ECs deadline extended

In addition to the policy changes, the deadline for submitting ECs has been extended for those students whose exam boards sit in summer 2021. The deadline to submit ECs is 14 days after your final summative assessment in the Summer Term or by 25 June 2021, whichever is earlier.

This gives students a substantial extension for submitting Exceptional Circumstances, whilst allowing enough time for submitted documentation to be collated and presented in time for summer 2021 exam boards. 
The deadline for 12-month postgraduate students to submit ECs relating to any assessments they have taken during the year is up to 7 calendar days after the summer dissertation/project deadline. The deadline to submit ECs following a resit and deferred assessment period is five days after your final assessment taken during that particular period.
Please review the Extensions, Deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances student guidance for more detailed information. 

The ECs procedure will be reviewed again ahead of the 2021/22 academic year and January 2022 Resit and Deferred Assessment Period. 


Understanding LSE’s approach to assessments 

We know that these are uncertain and difficult times for the whole LSE community, especially as you start to prepare for your assessments. LSE has created an assessment support package to help you understand what support it available to you, and how to access it at this critical time. You can find out more about the assessment support package in this overview.  

Have you put in support measures similar to those applied in summer 2020?

Yes, we have. We know students are still facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why we have extended and enhanced the support available to you for 2020/21 assessments. Full details of the support available can be found on our assessment support package webpages.  

Why is LSE not removing the cap on grades for resits?

LSE has introduced an assessment support package for the Summer Term 2021 assessment period, which includes the extension of more supportive polices for Summer Term assessments. As part of this, you don’t need to provide evidence to defer an assessment and instead they will be granted on request, without need for evidence. The option to defer assessment(s) provides greater flexibility for you to adjust the timing of assessments depending on your personal circumstances. If you defer your assessment, you will not be capped (unless you are deferring a resit attempt).  

Postgraduate degree classifications are no longer capped at an overall Pass if you do need to resit, and you will only be capped at course level for the purpose of degree classification. This change to the postgraduate classification schemes will mean that a student who resits is still able to achieve an overall grade of Merit or Distinction if they are able to achieve high enough marks in other courses.

Undergraduate degree classifications are also only capped at course level, so it is possible for a student to achieve any classification if they achieve high enough marks in other courses.
Removing the course-level cap at resit could unfairly disadvantage those students who successfully complete their assessment at the first attempt. We know some students are taking assessments in difficult situations, which is why more flexible and supportive polices, including extensions, deferrals and Exceptional Circumstances have been put in place for students whose circumstances mean they need additional support.

It is also important to note that resits in 2019/20 were capped, so removing this cap for 2020/21 would not be equitable for students who resat assessments in the last academic year, under similarly challenging circumstances.   

In addition, removing the course-level cap would unfairly advantage some students. Those who fail would have access to an uncapped resit, but those who score a relatively low mark but don't fail would not be able to improve their mark at resit. 

Why aren’t all assessment deadlines extended by default?

Students are sitting assessments in varied circumstances, and we believe it is more equitable to grant extensions when they are needed rather than applying universal extension for all.  We have relaxed the requirement for evidence for Extensions and the need to provide evidence or request permission to deferral assessments to improve access to these processes for students in need of additional flexibility.  More details of how we’re supporting you can be found on our assessment support package webpages

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

More details of how we’re supporting you can be found on our assessment support package webpages. 

Some institutions are re-weighting degree results to privilege non-pandemic results for undergraduates (where it is to their benefit). Why is LSE not taking this approach?

Given that both 2019/20 and 2020/21 assessment periods are impacted by the pandemic, re-weighting degree results for final year students would privilege first-year marks only. For this to be beneficial, we’d have to assume that all finalists performed to the best of their ability in their first year, which may not be the case for all students.   

Re-weighting degree results to privilege pre-pandemic year(s) will not be of benefit to students studying at postgraduate level, and mean that our measures will not be equitable when considering both our undergraduate and postgraduate students.   

As part of our assessment support package measures, cohort-level scaling means that all 2020/21 marks will be compared to the overall mark distribution from previous years. This means that if marks for an assessment are lower on average than those that were awarded in previous years, marks across the cohort will be scaled up to meet the average. More information about cohort level scaling can be found at this link.  

Cohort scaling, in addition to our supportive policy measures will help to ensure degree outcomes are not negatively impacted by the pandemic. The expanded borderline grade boundary criteria and revised EC procedures will take into account any specific circumstances that have affected individuals. 

Why is LSE not implementing a no detriment policy?

LSE looked carefully at the idea of developing a mechanical ‘no detriment’ calculation based on marks in completed summative assessment for the Summer Term assessment period in 2019/20, but to do so would not have been equitable at LSE because of the varied pattern of assessment across our School. Instead, opting for a range of measures across the entire assessment period is the best way to ensure equity for all students at LSE, and this remains the case for this academic year.  

For this Summer Term assessment period, we’re providing you with an assessment support package, which covers a range of support available to students, from simpler processes to request extensions, deferrals and submit Exceptional Circumstances to support with your studies, your wellbeing and your financial situation.

More details of how we’re supporting you can be found on our assessment support package webpages. We have also revised our approach to marking by requiring examiners to review 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. 

Our approach is line with other Russel Group institutions, who have moved away from algorithm-based approaches that some institutions implemented in 2019/20. You can read the full Russel Group statement online.  


Provisional marks 

When can I expect to receive my provisional marks for Summer Term assessments?

Please refer to the publication of results webpages for a full list of results publication dates.