This article includes important information about assessments in 2020-21. We appreciate that this article contains a lot of information but encourage you to read each section carefully.

We recognise and understand the concerns that students have about studying, revising, and taking assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to supporting all students to succeed and to upholding the high quality and integrity of a King’s College London education or degree. 
 
Your wellbeing, and making sure you are assessed fairly, continues to be our priority and we recognise that everyone’s circumstances are different. We have a range of measures available to ensure that our students are not academically disadvantaged when preparing and taking assessments. This is the King’s commitment to you.
 
This package of mitigation measures set out in the Fair Assessment Policy 2020/21 takes into account both your personal circumstances and any impact that might have been experienced by the whole cohort. It also includes mitigations that could be applied in your final year of study to the award of your final degree classification. The package of measures applies to foundation, undergraduate and taught postgraduate students currently registered on programmes of study, including those who interrupted or deferred from 2019/20, and those who are resitting the year. The information here does not apply to King’s Online Learning Programmes, and bespoke information will shortly be sent directly to those students.

This is a new package of measures designed for the academic year 2020-21 and will operate alongside any mitigations that were already applied to your marks in the previous academic year. If you were studying at undergraduate level at King’s in 2019-20 and the ‘safety net’ introduced in 2019-20 was applied to you for that year’s results, the results released on your transcript and communicated to you will be incorporated into your final degree classification and award at your time of graduation. 
 
If you are a postgraduate research student, we are putting in place a process to allow you to add a short statement to your thesis to explain to your examiners how COVID-19 has impacted your research and thesis. We expect to launch this process in February 2021 and will contact PGR students directly with more details.
 
In the rest of this article:
 
 
 
Teaching and Learning in 2020-21
For 2020-21, our assessment policy has been developed in a very different context to the reactive, measures introduced in 2019-20. In response to COVID-19, our programmes and modules have been reviewed and re-designed to encompass a flexible and blended teaching approach including significantly increased levels of online learning and, where circumstances and restrictions have allowed, some small group teaching on campus. We planned for this approach in 2020-21 and designed our assessments carefully with this in mind, learning lessons from 2019-20 to develop measures to fully support you.

Assessments in 2020-21 are being held remotely wherever possible. Across faculties, assessment formats have been altered where necessary to allow you to complete them remotely, and modules have been delivered with a view to the revised format of assessment. This may include replacing some unseen, timed exams with open-book exams, or alternative forms of coursework. There may be some exceptions where assessments cannot be held remotely, for example, if students are on a programme regulated by a professional body.
 
Marking for online assessments will be subject to the same established practices as examination scripts and all other forms of written assessment submitted for Faculty/Institute/School-based programmes.
 
 
Support available to you
There is a range of information, resources and tools available to support your revision and taking your assessments. These include access to a suitable study environment, being able to book a quiet space on campus to sit assessments in line with Government restrictions, and to loan equipment at King's such as a laptop.
 
More information on the support available and links to digital skills resources can be found on Student Services Online.
 

Mitigation measures in place for assessment in 2020-21
The aim of these mitigation measures is to address the impact of any potential current, or future, disruption in relation to COVID-19 this academic year that may affect your experience when preparing for and taking assessments. We recognise the need to address personal circumstances but also to apply cohort measures to ensure that no student is academically disadvantaged as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
 
  • Individual mitigation (personal circumstances)
We’ve listened to student feedback and adapted and streamlined our mitigating circumstances process to capture the wide range of circumstances related to the pandemic that may affect you in taking your assessments.

You should let us know of any personal circumstances that may impact you in completing your assessments so that we can apply an appropriate mitigation. You can do this by filling in a mitigating circumstances form; please check the deadlines for applying for mitigating circumstances. You need to provide some detail about the impact of your circumstances, but you do not need to provide evidence if it is COVID-19 related. The Assessment Sub-Board Chair (or nominee) for your programme of study is responsible for considering mitigating circumstances submitted through this process.

We also recognise that, as in every year, there may be other difficult circumstances facing you that are not directly related to the pandemic. The process of students filling out a mitigating circumstances form also enables us to offer support where needed. 
 
As part of the mitigations for individuals, we are asking departments to take a flexible approach to requests for coursework extensions without requiring evidence for COVID-related requests. Where an extension is not an option for a particular type of coursework, your department/faculty/school will consider potential alternatives.
 
In the event of any issues that impact a whole group, such as a shared technical issue during an online assessment, we will automatically apply mitigation and you do not need to raise this individually.
 
  • Cohort mitigation

We will review the year group (cohort) outcomes for each programme against previous, pre-pandemic years (the three academic years to 2018-19) to make sure each cohort on the programme has not been unfairly disadvantaged by the impact of COVID-19 during 2020-21.
 
Assessment Sub-Boards will look at the grades achieved by the cohort for each programme and compare these grades with those achieved for the same programme (or equivalent programmes for new programmes) in non-pandemic years. Where the cohort average is outside an anticipated range of variation, adjustments will be made upwards. There will be no downwards adjustment as a result of this process.
 
We received suggestions from some students about applying module-level cohort mitigation. King’s already provides for module-level cohort mitigation through our regular assessment procedures. Every year module marking teams and Assessment Sub-Boards, overseen by external examiners, consider cohort performance based on expectations on previous years. Marking teams engage in thorough processes of calibration, coordination, moderation and review throughout the module marking process. These existing practices will continue this year alongside the additional cohort programme-level mitigation.
 
 
Progression and awards
In addition to individual and cohort mitigations for all years, we are also making some important additional mitigations for progression and awards. In all cases, enhanced mitigation can only be applied where a student meets the minimum standard for award.
 
  • For Postgraduate taught students

We are providing further assurance for your final degree classification by applying enhanced measures at the borderline zone between degree classifications, in exactly the same way as we did in academic year 2019/20.

If you achieve an overall score within two per cent of a higher classification boundary (58-59, 68-69) at the point of award, where at least 60 credits are in the higher classification or above, in a minimum of two modules, you will be automatically upgraded to the higher classification (Pass with Merit/Pass with Distinction). Assessment Boards have the authority to consider and award every student in this borderline zone a higher degree classification where these criteria are met.
 
  • For UG finalists, UG ‘middle years’ and King’s students who have studied abroad
If the ‘safety net’ introduced in 2019-20 was applied to you for that year’s results, the results released on your transcript and communicated to you will be incorporated into your final degree classification and award at the time of graduation.
 
In addition, to give you further assurance for your final degree classification, we are applying enhanced mitigation for outcomes in the ‘borderline’ zone between degree classifications (that is, within two percentage points of a higher degree classification boundary). These will automatically be calculated and applied to your final degree award by the Assessment Boards for your programme at the point at which you graduate (in summer 2022 or later).
 
  • For final year undergraduates in 2020-21

If you achieve an overall mark (c-score) of 48-9/58-9/68-9 at the point of award AND you have at least 45 credits at level 6/7 at a higher classification in at least two modules, then you will automatically be awarded the higher classification. This is a modification of the usual requirement of at least 60 credits.
 
  • For Year 3+ in 2020-21 for those on a 4+ year degree
You must meet the minimum requirements at the end of 2020-21 to progress into the following academic year.

If you achieve a mark (c-score) of 48-9/58-9/68-9 at the point of award AND you have 45 credits at level 6/7 at a higher classification in at least 2 modules then you will automatically be awarded the higher classification.
 
  • For undergraduates in Year 2 who completed Year 1 in 2019-20

You must meet the minimum requirements at the end of 2020-21 to progress into Year 3.
 
If you achieve a mark (c-score) of 48-9/58-9/68-9 AND you have 45 credits at level 6/7 at a higher classification in at least two modules, then you will be awarded the higher degree classification.
 
It was agreed in the policy for academic year 2019/20 that first year marks would not be included in students’ final degree classifications. Given that this was a reactive measure announced just before the start of the spring assessment period, we agreed a check would be made for all students at the point at which their final degree is awarded. If at that point you achieve a final mark (c-score) of 47-9/57-9/67-9, then the marks from your first year will be considered. If including these year 1 marks boosts you up to the higher degree classification, then you will be awarded that higher degree classification. Alternatively if including these year 1 marks boosts you up into a borderline zone – that is, to a 48-9/58-9/68-9 – AND you have 45 credits at level 6/7 at a higher classification in at least 2 modules, then you will be awarded the higher degree classification.
 
  • For first year undergraduates in 2020-21
You will already be aware that first year undergraduate marks for 2020-21 will not contribute to your final degree classification. We recognise the impact that the pandemic may have had on settling into university and being ready to progress to your second year. Where your programme regulations allow, we have made a change so that up to 30 credits with a condoned fail mark can be included in the minimum 90 credits you need to progress to year 2. In year 2 you would need to complete the assessments for any outstanding credits you have carried over from year 1 (you need to complete 120 credits in each stage of your degree). Your programme leader will be able to advise if it is possible for you to carry forward any core modules and prerequisite modules for your programmes.
 
  • For King’s International Foundation students
If you achieve an overall score within two per cent of a higher-grade boundary (48-49, 58-59, 68-69) at the point of calculation of the King’s International Foundation Award, you will be automatically upgraded to the higher-grade band where at least 60 credits are in the higher band or above.
 

Deferral and interruptions
We understand that you might not feel ready to take one or more assessments, but we strongly encourage you to complete all assessments by the end of the academic year. Based on our lessons from last year and feedback from students, we wish to set out clearly the options available and their implications, so that you can make an informed decision in such circumstances.
 
  • Deferral

If you do wish to defer assessments due to COVID-19 reasons, you do not need to provide additional evidence to support your request. If you do choose to defer some or all of your assessments, please be aware that you are still required to meet the progression requirements to advance to the next stage of your degree. More information on deferring your assessment is available in our article How to apply for mitigating circumstances.
 
  • Interruption

Interrupting your studies is a big decision to make, but you may feel that the challenges of the pandemic are such that you need to interrupt your studies. Any interruption must be considered very carefully as it may carry implications for your progression through your degree and graduation, career progression, professional recognition requirements where the programme is regulated by a Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body (PSRB), or your visa status. Please see our article How can I take a break from my course? for more information or speak to your personal tutor or programme director.
 
 
Timing of assessments
We recognise the hard work that you are putting into your studies. Our priority is to ensure that you can progress and graduate on time. With these mitigation measures we do not plan to change the timing of the 2020-21 assessment periods or to extend them.
 
 
The differences between this year’s and last year’s approach to assessment
The assessment approach we used in 2019-20 was in direct response to the first national lockdown that started in March 2020 and led to the very sudden and unexpected closure of our campuses and a rapid move to online teaching and remote assessment. Our response at that time considered that most teaching had been delivered for the academic year and that undergraduate students in years two and three had already completed assessments in the first semester of the academic year, as well as in previous years. Therefore, our Assessment Boards were able to refer to marks achieved by undergraduate students before the pandemic started, which were used to create a ‘safety net’ average. However, there is no equivalent pre-pandemic reference point in 2020-21 that can be used as a benchmark for performance and it would be neither possible nor fair to calculate an overall degree classification based purely on the average from the first year in 2018-19.
 
Consequently, our assessment policy for 2020-21 has been developed specifically for flexible and blended teaching and online content, learning and assessments. We have created a robust and wide-ranging package of measures tailored to students’ experiences and needs in the current academic year, encompassing all of the lessons learned from 2019-20. In developing the assessment policy for 2020-21, we considered various proposals including modifying the weighting of credits for years. However, this package of measures will ensure that the full impacts of the pandemic and its effects on your studies and lives may be fully considered, so that you can be assured and confident that you will be assessed fairly in these difficult circumstances, and that the quality and integrity of your King’s College London degree will be protected.
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