Transitioning Assessments Online

Transitioning coursework assessments

Please note guidance on exams is now below. All modifications and changes to assessment will need to be recorded in the Tracker.  Unless otherwise stated the principles and processes outlined apply to HDAs, placements, and partner college provision.

General Principles

  • Courses with PSRB requirements must liaise with accrediting bodies to ensure agreement with changes. 
  • If existing module assessment can be undertaken without amendment then no change is required. 
  • If extensions are necessary, consideration should be given to Board dates as these are not currently planned to change. 
  • If the existing module assessment cannot be undertaken without amendment, an alternative assessment (see table below) should be designed which assesses the same learning outcomes. If possible, keep task weightings the same. 
  • Long thin modules could use formative marks / earlier tasks to inform a final grade – e.g. if students have already completed a task for the module which has already met the learning outcomes, the second task could be removed.
  • Some assessment involves physical group attendance (presentations, group work, performance) that cannot be replaced by online alternatives or informed by formative work, but is essential to the course level learning outcomes. Such assessment will need to be replaced (or where it can’t be replaced, deferred). 
  • Existing rules for Progression and Compensation will continue to apply. Where there is concern that a cohort of students has been disadvantaged as a result of the current activity this will be discussed and reviewed at the DAB, existing caveats within our Standard Assessment Regulations may be applied. Detailed guidance will be provided to DAB chairs prior to the DAB.
  • Reassessment - if the current resit task remains appropriate, then no change is needed; otherwise any changes should be in line with online alternatives (see table below)
  • If a module does not have readily adjustable assessment, consideration could be given as to whether sufficient work has been undertaken to extrapolate a pass/fail outcome (this would require a change in SITs and the module would not then form part of degree classification calculations, so would be a last resort).  
  • Provided the Course Learning Outcomes are achieved, not all module learning outcomes may need to be met; if absolutely necessary, you could consider course level learning outcomes and adjust assessment accordingly (NB may not apply to HDAs and courses with PSRB requirements).

Some specialist facilities (studios, performance spaces) are currently open. Until / unless a decision is made to close these, academic staff should work directly with Richard Cutting, Director of Technical Services, to provide students with access to these spaces. Some assessments could potentially be expedited if social distancing allows and students would not be unreasonably disadvantaged by a change to timescales. This is at local discretion, in consultation with ADTLs.

If access to specialist space changes, you can consider:

  • whether assessments can be removed completely and formative assessment or performance / achievements to date used as a basis for final grade; 
  • mass deferral of module / task to resit deadline or beyond, with consideration of impact on the timing of completion of award


  • Course teams decide on appropriate adjustments to assessment, including extensions where necessary paying due regard to learning outcomes.
  • All adjustments to be approved by Heads of Departments.
  • Any adjustments that would constitute a minor modification and a change in SITs (changes to number of tasks, changes to task weighting, or changing to pass/fail) should be shared with the ADTL prior to HoD approval – if in doubt contact your ADTL.
  • External examiner involvement: 
  1. less significant changes: course leader should summarise these via email to EE
  2. more significant changes (i.e. would constitute a formal modification normally): course leader should summarise these via email to EE and request approval by return
  • All changes should be logged in the Tracker as well as confirmation of verification for governance purposes – no need to complete formal modification paperwork.
  • Where adjustments require changes in SITs (as outlined above), AQS will use the Tracker to update Curriculum Catalogue and liaise with colleagues in SAS (Registry Operations) to ensure that module details are accurate. The changes will be made for the current occurrence only, reverting back for the next iteration of the module.
  • We are designing principles for Department Assessment Boards to operate remotely, and more information will be circulated in this in due course.
  • Please contact Departmental Managers to coordinate any administrative support you may need with the above, mindful of any limitations that may be a consequence of home working.
  • NB re: RRAA / extensions – currently the system is operating normally, students can submit extension requests and RRAAs online. If this changes, colleagues will be notified.
  • Break in Study – currently, processes for this are the same as previously. Our intention is to support all students to complete their course of study as planned. This will be kept under review and new guidance issued if needed.
  • All feedback for all tasks should be provided online, via text, audio, screencast or video.

Coursework Assessment Alternatives

Type of Assessment


Guidance on Supporting Online Tools

Research projects / dissertations

For dissertations or research projects at levels 4,5,6,7, students can be asked to work with the data they have and combine with secondary data / extended lit review to produce their work; or, if no data collected, then it can become a meta-analysis of secondary data instead (if no relevant secondary data is available, then a shift in focus plus an extension could be negotiated, for example).

Presentations where students speak to an audience of their peers / employer / clients

Ask students (individually or in groups) to submit a narrated presentation in electronic form (e.g. screencast) which could then be tutor-marked and peer-reviewed.
Ask students to prepare a podcast on the topic to be submitted electronically.
Provide annotated slides / presentation materials (if presentation skills are not part of the assessment).


Student Submission of media files

Blackboard Discussions

Viva Voce exams, e.g. for PhD examinations

These could readily be undertaken by Collaborate, Zoom or other electronic remote means.

Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom

Assessed seminars, group discussions and other similar activities

Can be held in an online platform already used within the university such as Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom

Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom

Lab work 

It may be possible to replicate some aspects of lab via working through simulations and / or case studies; students are presented with data sets or scenarios online (via Blackboard) and required to interpret them.

Adding content to Blackboard

Blackboard Assignments


Use a digital information graphic, mind map or other visuals, ask students to submit online and post to a shared space in Blackboard if peer review is required.

What is an Infographic?

What is a Mind Map?

Blackboard Discussions

Peer assessments and support

Peers can email each other drafts for comments, work (a)synchronously using Google Apps/Office365 or use a virtual space within Blackboard.

Blackboard Discussions

Blackboard Groups

Google Apps

Office 365

Practice-based / product based / placement assessment

If no PSRB issues, students could complete reflection on work / learning undertaken so far and add action planning task as appropriate. If premises are available (modified versions of) practical tasks may still be possible.

Tracking Changes

Please use the tracker to record changes to assessment

Guidance on exams 

These options have been approved by academic Board, as per the required Governance arrangements. 


  1. Replace exams with other forms of assessment in line with the recently approved guidance on adjustment to assessments. Alternative assessments will need to be delivered online. 
  2. Examinations that do continue are delivered electronically via Blackboard as ‘open book’ time limited assessments. The examination paper would typically be available for 24 hours, to accommodate a range of adjustments and time zones, via a Blackboard assignment. Students would be required to submit their answer to the assignment link by the scheduled end of the examination. Academic staff should be available at the release of the paper and again during published office hours to answer queries. 

Department actions 

  1. Review the existing exam timetable and identify which exams are continuing as time-constrained online exams, and which are being replaced by an alternative assessment. 
  2. Where alternative assessments are being designed, contact your ADTL for approval. 
  3. Identify appropriate time slots for online exams, using original timetable if helpful / applicable. NB careful co-ordination will be needed for joint modules.
  4. If possible, follow the principle of no more than one exam each day and no more than three in any week. 
  5. Return information from 1) and 2) to ADTLs by Friday 27 March. 
  6. Local course teams share details of adjusted assessments to students via e-mail and Blackboard. 

If a time period different to 24 hours is required, please contact your ADTL to discuss. 

If any changes are needed to exam content or questions, this can be managed locally and logged on the Assessment Tracker. 

Re: calculators, course teams should proceed on the assumption that in open book exams, students can access whatever is available to them with the time period, so assessments need to be designed accordingly. 

For students who may be struggling, exam rules apply for the online exam i.e. students could submit a RRAA (request to repeat an assessment attempt) - within 5 days of the exam date. The criteria will be more flexible and include illness, self-isolation, IT issues due to remote working, accessibility of learning and research materials, unexpected childcare. 

We are continuing to review this to build in additional flexibility and reduce bureaucracy, such as whether there is a need to put an exceptional ‘fit to sit’ type approach in place for this year.

See Table 1 for scenarios, risks and suggested mitigation 





Student has additional needs

Learning Contract / reasonable adjustments


Student does not have suitable equipment

Provision of facilities on campus / extended borrowing / alternative delivery e.g. postal return

Ability to demonstrate learning

Typing is slower than writing for some students

Allow additional time / reduce examination content / alternative assessment / uncapped referral

Academic standards

Internet is accessible to research content* / students may work together

Accept the assessment is now an ‘open book’ exam / also upload to Turn-it-in or activate Safeassign


Student is ill and unable to take exam

Existing procedures apply /


Subject discipline

Practical/performance examinations requiring observation/demonstration

Record or stream assessment


PSRB requirements (may include practical exam e.g. OSCE)

Flexibility from PSRB, alternative assessment to examination, postponement

Subject discipline

Use of special characters or formulae

Work written as appropriate and scanned file uploaded (requires scanner)

Insert photographed notation into word document

Alternative assessment



Internet connection is slow e.g. China

Assistive technology / alternative assessment or delivery


Staff do not have suitable equipment / internet access

University provision of equipment / corporate phone and tethering

Time difference

Time difference may mean examination is in unsociable hours

Extend release time to 24hrs before submission / set exam for local time /

Student cohort spread across multiple timezones

Risk of paper being shared across time zones

Extend release time to 24hrs before submission / use first sit and referral paper in different zones

Technology failure (corporate/personal)

Risk to accessing/uploading papers/answers at release and submission times (NB work can take place off-line in between)

Extend deadline / reschedule / re-open submission link / alternate submission e.g. email

*in the Business School Wiseflow exam software was piloted. However, few staff have opted to continue the pilot, feedback is mixed and a thorough review of the technical support required should be carried out before this is used.