Teaching Committee policy on timing of examinations

Teaching Committee (TC) policy for examining Informatics courses in the December and April/May Examination Diets.

First and second year courses (Non-honours) are examined at the end of the semester in which they are taught. Third and fourth year courses (Honours) are examined at the end of semester 2. The majority of taught Masters courses are examined at the end of semester 2, although some semester 1 course lecturers may elect to examine at the end of semester 1. For semester 1 only Visiting Students, a special exam sitting of semester 1 courses normally taken in year 3, 4 or 5 is provided in December for this cohort only.

Explanation of the policy, specifically regarding April/May Exams for Year 3 and 4 Courses:

Current policy was discussed extensively at Teaching Committee in December 2013 with a clear majority of members in favour of the current policy, rather than changing to December examination for semester 1 courses.

Semester 1 in total is 14 weeks long including the exam diet which is the final 2 weeks; Semester 2 in total is 20 weeks long including Easter and the exam diet which is the final 4 weeks.

The following three main points were raised against the proposal.  

  1. The difficulty of accommodating December exams for Years 3 and 4 within the current structure of the year into the two semesters, and the distribution of coursework and project work. There would be not much time to prepare for exams in Semester 1. Also, students are expected to use the exam period in December for other purposes (e.g., coursework and the individual practical in year 3 and the Honours project in year 4).  
  2. Administrative difficulties and overheads that would be created by permitting December exams: given the current  December diet (which includes Year 1 and 2 courses) of finding extra exam venues; exam processing clashing with the start of Semester 2; the requirement of extra Boards of Examiners.  
  3. Splitting the exams into 2 diets would have pedagogical disadvantages. Courses in Semester 2 often help with the understanding of work from Semester 1 and doing exams with this combined knowledge benefits students. The idea that students have to study more for the May diet is a consolidation of work and not  an additional burden.

Year 3 students have at most 9 exams and year 4 at most 8 exams. The School believes that the number of exams at Year 3 and 4 could be reduced for many students by introducing  more 20 point courses and more coursework only courses.