News & updates

Conflicts of interest for external examiners of research degrees 29/01/16

Following consultation in Michaelmas term 2015, Education Committee has approved the introduction of a new policy on the circumstances which would constitute a conflict of interest for a potential external examiner for research degrees.  The new policy statement has been added to the Policy on Research Degrees: 7.3 Examination of research degrees.

Course handbooks, examination conventions and examiners’ reports 11/01/16

A reminder to colleagues that following the introduction of the Policy and Guidance on course information in Trinity term 2015, all departments and faculties are required to publish course handbooks and examination conventions electronically and make them available to all users with an Oxford username using Single Sign-On. Education Policy Support is planning to undertake a review of the implementation of the Policy during Hilary term 2016. Examiners’ reports (including external examiners’ reports) should also be published and available to students with the link to the location of these included in course handbooks.

Higher Education Review 2016 11/01/16

The University’s Self Evaluation Document and the Student Written Submission prepared by the Oxford University Student Union have been submitted to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) as part of their cycle of reviews of higher education providers. Both documents are available on the Education Committee website using Single Sign-On. The overall aim of the review is to inform students and the wider public whether a provider meets the expectations in the QAA Code for higher education providers. The QAA’s review visit will take place in Week 8 of Hilary term 2016. The outcome of the review will be reported in Trinity term 2016.

HEFCE QA REVIEW: Response by the University of Oxford

In June 2015, HEFCE published a consultation document setting out proposals for a new approach to quality assessment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2014/Content/Pubs/2015/201511/2015_11_.pdf).
  

The University’s response to the consultation document can be found here: HEFCE QA REVIEW: Response by the University of Oxford (379kb)

Revised Policy and guidance for examiners and others involved in University examinations 16/11/15

The 2015/16 edition of the University’s Policy and guidance for examiners and others involved in University examinations has now been published at the Education Committee website. The document is currently available as a PDF, but will also be available in web-based format as soon as possible. The Introduction to the document (Section 1) includes a list of the main changes since the 2014/15 edition and signposts to the sections of the guidance which are essential for chairs of examiners, examiners and assessors, examination administrators, and colleges. An A-Z of policies and guidance from across the Academic Administration Division is available for staff reference. 

New procedures for the annual monitoring of courses published 02/11/15

The Procedures for the annual monitoring of courses sets out the ways in which departments, divisions and central University committees contribute to the monitoring of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Procedures document mainly consolidates and describes existing practice but some changes have been made to the requirements for departmental and divisional monitoring; these are highlighted in the implementation note. For queries regarding the new Procedures contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk. An A-Z of policies and guidance from across the Academic Administration Division is available for staff reference.

Policy and Guidance on Postgraduate Taught Courses 30/10/15

Education Committee has recently approved a revised version of its Policy and Guidance on Postgraduate Taught Courses, which is available on the Education Committee website. The Policy and Guidance is the framework that Education Committee expects to see underpin the provision of postgraduate taught courses within the University, and it supplements the requirements for taught courses set out in the Examination Regulations.

The main purposes of the Policy and Guidance are: to let staff know what they must do; to let students know what the rules are; and, to ensure that the University’s practice complies with external requirements and to articulate the way in which it complies. The Policy and Guidance has been revised to reflect some of the recent developments in PGT education, and the revision has drawn in particular upon the Quality Assurance Agency's UK Quality Code for Higher Education, as well as feedback received from across the collegiate University.

The revised Policy and Guidance is web-based, and replaces the previous published version of the Policy and Guidance for Graduate Taught Courses. It is intended that the revised Policy and Guidance be the ‘policy hub’ for postgraduate taught courses, with other documents – good practice guidance, procedural guides, description of roles – relating directly to it.

Recording of lectures and other formal teaching sessions by students 05/10/15

A new University policy on the recording of lectures and other formal teaching sessions by students makes clear acceptable and unacceptable practice and the consequences of non-compliance. The policy is intended to be complementary to on-going work at institutional level in relation to the development of lecture capture. This policy permits recordings provided that permission has been granted in advance by the academic organising the lecture or lecture series or leading the teaching session. It provides for individual disabled students, as a reasonable adjustment, being granted permission to record all lectures and formal teaching sessions without having to ask permission for each lecture or other teaching session. With regard to the recording of formal teaching sessions other than lectures, all students are required to check whether there are any objections to a recording taking place, regardless of the reason for permission for such a recording. The policy is available from the A-Z of policies and guidance page of the AAD website.

Revised medical certificate template 05/10/15

A revised medical certificate template designed for use in all University procedures requiring medical evidence, plus accompanying guidance for medical practitioners, has been developed for use from the beginning of Michaelmas term 2015. Arrangements have been made to supply college doctors with an electronic version of the certificate that is compatible with information management systems, and which can be pre-populated with both doctors' and student patients' details. Refer to the Education Policy Support website for further information on the use, authorisation and submission of the certificate.

Code of Practice on Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults 21/09/15

From 1 October 2015, the existing Code of Practice on the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults will be replaced by a revised University of Oxford Safeguarding Code of Practice. This covers the arrangements to be put in place to safeguard children (those under the age of 18) and 'at risk' adults who may come into contact with members of the University, through activities such as research, outreach, volunteering, school visits to the University and public access to the museums. The focus of the new Code of Practice is on risk assessment and minimisation, with a new streamlined process for reporting concerns to ensure a prompt response. The new Code will be published in the Gazette on 24 September and is available online with supporting material on the Personnel Services website.

Examination Regulations website and print version 21/09/15

The Examination Regulations website has been updated to produce the 2015/16 regulations. Academic administrators are reminded that they should update links in handbooks and on websites to the regulations for new students starting in 2015/16. Academic administrators are also asked to check the regulations for the courses for which they are responsible, and to report any issues to examregs@admin.ox.ac.uk. The print version of the Examination Regulations 2015/16 (with a limited print run) is due to be distributed to colleges, departments and faculties by 1 October 2015. It is planned that the print version will be discontinued after the 2015/16 edition.

Weblinks for course handbooks and examination conventions 07/09/15

Following the update of course handbooks and examination conventions over the Long Vacation (in relation to the new Policy and Guidance on course information), please notify AcademicAdmin.Comms@admin.ox.ac.uk of the web address or WebLearn url for the department landing page that will contain links to course handbooks and examination conventions as soon as it is available, and no later than Week 0 of Michaelmas term, so that links from the Oxford Students website can be updated. 

Policy on changes between full-time and part-time study 7/8/15

Education Committee has approved the introduction of a new policy on changes to mode of study for students enrolled on programmes offered on both a full-time and part-time basis.  This policy had been developed at the request of Education Committee following final approval of the policy framework for part-time provision in Hilary term 2015. 

 The approved policy states that (where a programme is offered on both a full-time and part-time basis), with the support of the department/faculty and college, students may be permitted to apply to change status once during their programme of study (except in the case where the programme’s special regulations prohibit it).  Any further changes would be permitted only in exceptional cases, and would require an application to Education Committee.  The policy also reminds students of the possible restrictions of funding bodies, colleges, and for overseas students in Oxford on a visa.  This policy was developed taking into account practice at other Russell Group institutions, and draws heavily on RCUK’s policy on changes to mode of study. 

 The new policy may be found at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/edc/policiesandguidance/policyonchangesbetweenfull-timeandpart-timestudy/

LERU

LERU Doctoral Summer School July 2015

From 13-17 July 2015, Oxford hosted the prestigious annual LERU Doctoral Summer School, which was organised by Education Policy Support with assistance from colleagues across the University. The theme of the summer school was knowledge exchange: the mutually beneficial sharing of ideas, data, experience, and expertise between academics and non-academic organisations or the public as a means of fostering innovation and excellence, which is relevant to all disciplines and subject areas, across both the arts and sciences. 

The summer school was attended by 44 doctoral students from the 21 League of European Research Universities, and took place at the Chemistry Research Laboratory.  Accommodation and meals were provided by Mansfield College.

A short video about the event is available here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxgLuWq_eOw

New Policy and Guidance on Student Engagement and Representation published 13/07/15

The Policy and Guidance on Student Engagement and Representation covers student representation at department, division and University level, student evaluation and feedback and student engagement in quality assurance and enhancement. The Policy and Guidance is published along with an implementation note for departments and faculties on the Education Committee website. For any queries regarding the new Policy and Guidance contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk. An A-Z of policies and guidance from across the Academic Administration Division is available for staff reference.

New templates for course handbooks and examination conventions 29/06/15

The University's new Policy and Guidance on course information outlines the requirements in relation to course information that departments and faculties provide to undergraduate and taught graduate students, and includes a template for course handbooks. Also provided is a revised template for examination conventions which will replace, for 2015/16 onwards, the current Annex H of the Policy and Guidance for examiners. Both documents are available on the Education Committee website along with a detailed implementation guide. Departments and faculties are asked to update their course handbooks and examination conventions over the Long Vacation in the light of the new and revised guidance. Divisions are coordinating the implementation and you should receive a communication from your divisional office shortly. For any queries contact the Senior Assistant Registrar (Education) in your divisional office or rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk in Education Policy Support.

Permission exceptionally to hold a viva within one month of receipt of the thesis 29/06/15

The Examination Regulations state that research degree candidates may request an early viva as long as it is held no earlier than one month after receipt of the thesis. However, the Regulations currently include no corresponding restrictions for examiners wishing to request an early viva. Education Committee has approved an amendment to the Regulations to make it clear that authority for early vivas rests with the Proctors rather than the examiners, with immediate effect. If, for any reason, examiners wish to hold a viva within one calendar month of receiving their copy of the thesis, notification should be sent to the relevant board, and the permission of the Proctors must be sought. This may be done by contacting the Proctors' Office giving details of the proposed arrangement and the reasons for the request.

Adjustments for research degree examinations 29/06/15

Education Committee has approved the introduction of new regulations governing the procedure for adjustments for disability for research degree examinations. The approved regulations will be added to the Examination Regulations with effect from Michaelmas term 2015. The overall responsibility for approval of these adjustments is with the Proctors; however, in the case of straightforward, standard adjustments, authority for approval will be delegated to the Director of Graduate Studies. The Proctors will consider cases only where the recommendation for adjustment might impinge upon academic standards i.e. those concerning the conduct of the viva. The new regulations will form the basis of a section of the Handbook accompanying the Common Framework for Supporting Disabled Students, and a new Graduate Studies Office (GSO) form.

Examination Regulations website and print version: 15/06/15

The Examination Regulations website that was launched in April 2015 will be updated to produce the 2015/16 regulations by the end of September 2015. Academic administrators are reminded that they will need to update links in handbooks and on websites to the regulations for new students starting in 2015/16 at that point. A further communication will be sent out when the website update has been completed. Meanwhile, a print version with a limited print run is being produced for Michaelmas term 2015, and distributed to colleges, departments and faculties. It is planned that the printed version will be discontinued after the 2015/16 edition.

New template form and guidelines for external examiner reports: 01/06/15

The Quality Assurance Subcommittee has agreed that all external examiners should be asked to prepare their reports using a standard template form. This template form will be sent to all current external examiners, along with a revised guidance note. The introduction of a standard template on a compulsory basis has been approved in order to try and achieve a degree of consistency of information received from external examiners across all subject areas. The form is divided into two sections: Part A, which contains essential elements relating to the examinations process which external examiners should confirm, and Part B, which is designed to enable external examiners to provide more detailed qualitative comments. The form and guidelines will also be available from the External Examiners section of Education Committee's website. For further information, contact victoria.campbell@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk.

New quality assurance and awards frameworks published: 01/06/15

Two new frameworks are available on the Education Committee website. The University awards framework describes the different qualifications that the University awards and explains how they relate to the national standards agreed for higher education qualifications. The Quality assurance governance framework describes how the key structures in place across the collegiate University integrate quality assurance at department, division, college and University level. For queries regarding the new frameworks, contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Graduate induction timetable: 18/05/15

Colleagues planning induction events for Michaelmas term are reminded about the timetable split for colleges and department/faculties for induction events in Week 0, as approved by Education Committee.

Week 009:00-13:0013:00-17:0017:00-onwards
Monday Dept/fac Dept/fac College
Tuesday Dept/fac Dept/fac Dept/fac
Wednesday College College College
Thursday College Dept/fac (until 18:00) College
Friday Dept/fac College College

For further information, including an overview of induction content, visit the Education Committee website or contact frances.wayman@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Q&A discussion on the new Policy and Guidance on Course Information: 18/05/15

Education Policy Support will be presenting the planned new Policy and Guidance on Course Information followed by a Q&A discussion at the AAD Briefing on Tuesday 19 May 2015. The new Policy and Guidance will describe the key sources of information available to students and include a new course handbook template for undergraduate and graduate taught programmes. Further details will be available once the Policy and Guidance is finalised later this term, and departments and faculties will be asked to take the new guidance into account when they are updating their course handbooks over the Long Vacation.

Revised guidance on 'vested interests' and course changes: 05/05/15

When considering a change to a course it is important to consider the impact that it might have on students and their 'vested interests'. The change could relate to the course description as contained within the Examination Regulations, examination conventions, course handbook or syllabus. Whether that change is allowable will depend on the nature of the change and the timing of its implementation. Education Committee's primary concerns are to avoid impeding desirable developments in the syllabus unnecessarily, and at the same time to ensure that students are treated fairly and not disadvantaged by any change. Revised guidance on how to consider vested interests is now available on the Education Committee website as part of the Policy and Guidance on new courses and major changes to courses (including closure) in Annex I: Vested Interests. For enquiries contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Revised policy and guidance on courses and education with others: 07/04/15

Two revised policy and guidance documents are now available on the Education Committee website. The Policy and Guidance on new courses and major changes to courses (including closure) outlines the University's policy requirements for and process relating to the approval of: new courses, major changes to courses and closure of courses. The Policy and Guidance on education with others replaces the Policy and Guidance on collaborative provision and outlines the University's policy requirements for and process relating to the approval of: taught collaborative courses, collaborations involving postgraduate research students, minor collaborations (involving limited teaching or the use of specialist facilities and resources), international placements (student exchanges, language placements and years abroad) and professional and research placements. For queries, contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk.

New policy framework for part-time graduate provision: 07/04/15

The Policy framework for part-time graduate provision has been developed following wide consultation across the collegiate University in 2014 /15. It sets out the University's position on part-time provision at graduate level, including taught postgraduate courses and doctoral programmes, and their relationship with the University's full-time portfolio. In particular it provides a framework for those designing and approving part-time courses. For queries, contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk.

New Examination Regulations website: 23/03/15

The new Examination Regulations website will be launched on 20 April 2015 with an updated look, structure and functionality. The new website will retain the same home page address as the current website, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/. Academic administrators are asked to change any specific regulation web links by the launch date; the website is now available for this purpose. Feedback can be provided to examregs@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Extensions for completion of major corrections: 09/03/15

A new 'major corrections' option for DPhil examination outcomes was introduced in Michaelmas term 2013, with a time limit for the completion of corrections of six months. However, no provision for extensions of time for completion of corrections was included in the new regulations. In Michaelmas term 2014, Education Committee approved a change to the Examination Regulations to give Boards the power to grant an extension of time for the completion of major corrections of up to three months. This change has now been made to the Examination Regulations, with immediate effect. The GSO.18 'Application for Extension of Time to complete Minor Corrections' form has been amended on the Oxford Students website to accommodate requests for extensions of time for major corrections.

Reinstatement of graduate research students: 09/03/15

Following consultation with divisions, departments and faculties, in Michaelmas term 2014 Education Committee approved changes to the application process for reinstatement of graduate research students. It was agreed that candidates applying for reinstatement should be asked to provide a work plan and timetable, which should be reviewed and endorsed by the former supervisor. In addition, guidance should be provided to departments and faculties on the factors which should be taken into account when considering applications for reinstatement. The Policy on Research Degrees, on the Education Committee website, has been updated to reflect these changes, and the GSO.23 'Application for Rein statement to the Register of Graduate Students' form on the Oxford Students website has also been amended accordingly. Students have been made aware of the changes via this week's Student News.

Time limit for the return of research degree examiners' reports: 09/03/15

Whilst there are time limits in place for the completion of corrections to a thesis by a research degree candidate, there is currently no stated time limit in policy or regulation for the return of the examiners' report following an examination. Delays to the return of these reports can be problematic for candidates, particularly in cases where a candidate needs to receive leave to supplicate before being able to take up employment. Following consultation with divisions, departments and faculties, in Michaelmas term 2014 Education Committee approved a proposal to introduce a time limit of one month for the return of the examiners' joint report. The Policy on Research Degrees, on the Education Committee website, has been amended to reflect this change. Students have been made aware of the change via this week's Student News.

Transfer and confirmation of status: 09/03/15

There is currently some inconsistency in the wording used for transfer and confirmation of status in the Examination Regulations. In some places, students are advised that they must have applied for the process by the relevant deadline, whilst in other places they are advised that they must have successfully completed the process by the deadline. In Michaelmas term 2014, Education Committee approved changes to the wording of the sections of the Regulations referring to transfer and confirmation of status to make it clear to students that the requirement is that the assessment will be completed by the end of the relevant term, rather than that the application will have been submitted. These changes will be made with effect from Trinity term 2015. Students have been made aware of the changes via this week's Student News.

Guide to the UK Quality Code: 23/02/15

Following the publication by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) of the UK Quality Code, A brief guide to the UK Quality Code and its implementation at Oxford has been produced. The guide has been written for administrators and academics and is intended to provide an accessible way of understanding the Quality Code and how it is incorporated into the key policy documents and day to day activities of the University. For queries regarding the guide or the implementation of the UK Quality Code, please contact rachel.dearlove@admin.ox.ac.uk or catherine.whalley@admin.ox.ac.uk.

New Examination Regulations website - 23 Feb 2015

A new website for Examination Regulations will be launched on 20 April 2015 with an updated look, structure and functionality. The website and the associated way regulations are changed will be demonstrated at the Examination Regulations new website breakout session at the UAS Conference on 24 March 2015. Although the new website will retain the same home page address as the current website, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs, academic administrators should note the need to change any specific regulation web links by the launch date; the website will be available for this purpose from 23 March 2015.

Applications for consideration of factors affecting performance in examinations: 26/01/15

If a student considers that their performance in an examination has been affected by factors outside their control, they may make an application through their college asking that the examiners take these factors into consideration. Colleges should scan all applications and send them with supporting evidence to the Examinations and Assessment team, email: eap@admin.ox.ac.uk. The relevant regulations are available in the Examination Regulations 2014. Students have been informed of the application process in this week's Students News.

Plagiarism advice update for students: 26/01/15

Education Committee has approved a revised version of the information for students about plagiarism. Advice to help students avoid plagiarism in examinations and assignments has been updated on the Oxford Students website. Students have been advised via this week's Student News.

Reinstatement of graduate research students 12/12/14

Following consultation with divisions and departments/faculties, in Michaelmas term 2014 Education Committee approved changes to the application process for reinstatement of graduate research students. It was agreed that candidates  applying for reinstatement should be asked to provide a work plan and timetable, which should be reviewed and endorsed by the former supervisor. In addition, guidance should be provided to departments/faculties on the factors which should be taken into account when considering applications. The Policy on Research Degrees has been updated to reflect these changes, and the GSO.23 ‘Application for Reinstatement to the Register of Graduate Students’ form has also been amended accordingly.

Extensions for completion of major corrections 12/12/14

A new ‘major corrections’ option for DPhil examination outcomes was introduced in Michaelmas term 2013, with a time limit for the completion of corrections of six months. However, no provision for extensions of time for completion of corrections was included in the new regulations.  In Michaelmas term 2014, Education Committee approved a change to the Examination Regulations to give boards the power to grant an extension of time for the completion of major corrections of up to three months. This change has now been made to the Examination Regulations, with immediate effect.  In addition, the GSO.18 ‘Application for Extension of Time to complete Minor Corrections’ form has been amended to accommodate requests for extensions of time for major corrections.

Introduction of time limit for the return of research degree examiners' reports 12/12/14

Whilst there are time limits in place for the completion of corrections to a thesis by a research degree candidate, there is currently no stated time limit in policy or regulation for the return of the examiners’ report following an examination. Delays to the return of these reports can be problematic for candidates, particularly in cases where a candidate needs to receive leave to supplicate before being able to take up employment. Following consultation with divisions and departments/faculties, in Michaelmas term 2014 Education Committee approved a proposal to introduce a time limit of one month for the return of the examiners’ joint report. The Policy on Research Degrees has been amended to reflect this change.

Transfer and confirmation of status 12/12/14

There is currently some inconsistency in the wording used for transfer and confirmation of status in the Examination Regulations. In some places, students are advised that they must have applied for the process by the relevant deadline, whilst in other places they are advised that they must have successfully completed the process by the deadline. In Michaelmas term 2014, Education Committee approved changes to the wording of the sections of the Regulations referring to transfer and confirmation of status to make it clear to students that the requirement is that the assessment will be completed by the end of the relevant term, rather than that the application will have been submitted. These changes will be made with effect from Trinity term 2015 (from 26 April 2015).

Changes to graduate taught degree regulations 8 September 2014

The regulations currently used to govern suspension of, removal from, and reinstatement to the register for graduate taught students are those that were originally drafted for research students. As a result, these regulations have a research focus and in many ways are not ‘fit for purpose’ for graduate taught students. Education Committee has approved the introduction of new general regulations for graduate taught students in order to set more appropriate limits for these courses. The specific changes made are as follows:

     i. The introduction of new general regulations for graduate taught courses;

    ii. A limit to the number of terms that a graduate taught student may suspend status of three terms for one-year courses, and six terms for two-year courses, pro rata for part-time courses;

   iii. Simplification of the regulations for ceasing to hold student status;

  iv. Introduction of specific regulations for reinstatement of taught students including a limit of two years within which reinstatement might be applied for;

   v. Revision of existing regulations as a result of the new general regulations to remove any duplication;

   vi. Re-ordering of the Examination Regulations to group matriculated graduate taught course regulations together.

These changes will be made in the Examination Regulations, and will apply to students commencing from 1 October 2014. 

Policy on Research Degrees: Time between confirmation and submission 8 September 2014

Education Committee has approved the introduction of policy emphasising that there should be a gap between completion of confirmation of status and submission of the thesis, and that this should normally be not less than three months. New wording to this effect has been added to the Policy on Research Degrees (see 7.2.2 ‘Timing of confirmation of status’).

Maximum number of terms’ extension permitted for MSc by Research and MLitt 8 September 2014

With effect from 13 October 2014, the maximum number of terms’ extension permitted for the MSc by Research and the MLitt will be reduced from six terms to three terms. This follows the reduction in the number of terms’ extension permitted for DPhil students from nine to six in Michaelmas 2013. Applications for extensions for MSc by Research and MLitt students which would take a student beyond three terms of extension and which will include Michaelmas term 2014 or beyond, can no longer be granted without both the full support of the student’s supervisor(s), college and department/faculty, and in addition, special dispensation from the Examination Regulations agreed by the University Education Committee. Any such application should be made through the relevant Graduate Studies Assistant in the first instance.

Policy on Research Degrees: Applications for extension 24/04/14

The Examination Regulations state that extensions of time for research students should only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. In Hilary term 2014, Education Committee gave approval for the Policy on Research Degrees to be augmented with guidance on what might constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’ in order to assist academic staff in directing students to the most appropriate adjustment to their situation.

Additionally, the Committee also approved a modification to existing policy to encourage departments and faculties to give extensions for one term at a time in the majority of cases, to enable closer monitoring of progress. 

Examination Regulations: Minor corrections for award of lower degree 24/04/14

Examiners for the Degree of  Doctor of Philosophy have a number of outcome options they may recommend to the board (note that some may only be recommended when examining for the second time, after revision and re-submission):

(i) Award of the D.Phil. [possibly with minor or major corrections]

(ii) Reference back [for revision] for D.Phil. or award of the M.Litt./ M.Sc. as the student may choose

(iii) Reference back [for revision] for M.Litt./ M.Sc. only

(iv) Reference back [for revision] for D.Phil. or [for revision] for the degree of M.Litt./ M.Sc. as the student may choose

(v) Award of M.Litt./ M.Sc.

(vi) Outright failure

In the Examination Regulations, options (ii) and (v) did not previously provide for the completion of minor corrections before the award of the lower degree.  As M.Litt. and M.Sc. (by Research) theses have to be submitted to ORA (Oxford University Research Archive) and the Bodleian Library for consultation, the regulations for options (ii) and (v) have been amended with immediate effect to allow the examiners to request minor corrections prior to the award of either the M.Litt. or M.Sc.

Examination Regulations: Removal of '‘Memorandum of Guidance for Supervisors and Research Students’ 24/04/14

One of the tasks of the recent revision of Education Committee’s Policy on Research Degrees  was to incorporate the content of the ‘Memorandum of Guidance for Supervisors and Research Students’, currently found in the Examination Regulations (2013, pp. 866-870), into the Policy. This has now been done, and the section containing the Memorandum will be removed from the Examination Regulations with effect from 1 October 2014.

Increases to higher degree fees 03/02/14

After consultation with divisions, a recommendation to increase the fee payable to judges was considered by both Education Committee and PRAC in Michaelmas term 2013, and both committees agreed that the fees payable to judges for higher degrees should be increased to £500 in 2014/15.  In addition, Education Committee and PRAC also approved a proposal to increase the fee payable by candidates for higher degrees from £710 in 2013/14 to £1,050 in 2014/15

Policy on Research Degrees 18/11/13

Education Committee’s revised Policy on Research Degrees is now published and available on the Education Committee website. The Policy on Research Degrees is the framework that Education Committee expects to see underpin the provision of research degrees within the University, and it supplements the requirements for research degrees set out in the Examination Regulations.

The main purposes of the Policy are: to let staff know what they must do; to let students know what the rules are; and, to ensure that the University’s practice complies with external requirements and to articulate the way in which it complies. The Policy has been revised to reflect some of the recent developments in doctoral education, and the revision has drawn in particular upon the new Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Quality Code for Higher Education, as well as feedback received from across the collegiate University.

The revised Policy is web-based, and replaces the previous published version of the Policy and Guidance on Research Degrees. It is intended that the revised Policy be the ‘policy hub’ for research degrees, with other documents – good practice guidance, procedural guides, description of roles – relating directly to it.

UG and PGT examinations: Comment sheets: 21/10/13

Following consultation in Hilary Term 2013, the Examinations Panel agreed to recommend to Education Committee that comment sheets should be used for all substantial assessment items (dissertations, extended essays, project write-ups etc). The comment sheets are intended to aid examiners in the marking of substantial assessment items. This policy was subsequently agreed by Education Committee and therefore, with effect from 1 October 2013, all substantial assessment items should be accompanied by a comment sheet. Individual subjects may decide the form of the comment sheet for their substantial assessment items.  Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved with University Examinations, MT 2013, section 1.5.4. For information about the policy on feedback, please see section 1.6.

UG and PGT examinations: Appointment of postgraduate students as assessors: 21/10/13

Examinations Panel considered concerns relating to the appointment of postgraduate students as assessors. It confirmed that only graduate research students who have passed transfer of status should be appointed as assessors. It recommended that the policy on this matter be re-circulated to nominating bodies (available in Annex G: The Role of Faculties and Departments in Preventing Plagiarism of the Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved in University Examinations MT 2013).

UG and PGT examinations: Use of WebLearn for sharing examination papers between examiners: 21/10/13

Following a successful pilot, Examinations Panel agreed to endorse a proposal to expand the use of the WebLearn (with additional security) for the sharing of examination papers between examiners. Further information is available in section 2.3.8 of the Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved in University Examinations MT 2013. Chairs of examiners wishing to make use of the service should contact the Examinations Manager.

UG and PGT examinations: Late submission of dissertations and other written work: 21/10/13

Following consultation with Divisions, Undergraduate Panel agreed to approve a regulation change relating to the late submission of summative assessment items. The regulation change allows examiners to impose an academic penalty, according to an agreed scale, without reference to the Proctors in cases where the work is submitted after the deadline time but still on the day of the deadline. Students would have the right to appeal any academic penalty so applied. As part of the consultation, Divisions also agreed to work towards setting deadlines for submitted work at noon, rather than 5pm, and on a day other than Friday. Examination Regulations, 2013, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 16.8, pp. 46-47. This change of regulation is in the context of a change of policy that responsible bodies must now include a range of academic penalties in their marking conventions that may be applied for late submission.

UG and PGT examinations: Illegible scripts: 21/10/13

Examinations Panel agreed to approve a regulation change following the establishment of a University transcription service for illegible scripts. The Proctors have pre-approved the typists and invigilators who form the service. Colleges using the service no longer need to apply to the Proctors for approval of typists and invigilators. Colleges not using the service must still apply to the Proctors for the approval of typists and invigilators in each individual case. Examination Regulations, 2013, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 16.7, pp 44-45.

UG and PGT examinations: Results lists: 21/10/13

Examinations Panel agreed to approve a regulation change following the discontinuation of the use of Pass and Class Lists and their replacement with the Registrar’s Results Lists for the collection and recording of final examination results. Examination Regulations, 2013, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 17, pp 48-51.

PGT examinations: 21/10/13

The following changes to regulations and policy affecting PGT examinations were approved:

  1. Elements to be re-sat in the event of initial failure
    Where an element, or elements, of an examination have been failed at the first attempt, students are entitled to one further attempt. Unless otherwise specified by the special regulations for a course, marks for any element that has been successfully completed at the first attempt may be carried forward, and therefore it will only be necessary for students to re-sit the failed element(s).
  2. Awarding of a distinction after an initial failure
    Candidates who have initially failed any element of assessment will not normally be eligible for the award of distinction.
  3. Additional examiners’ meetings for nine-month PGT courses
    Examination boards for nine-month graduate taught programmes are advised to provisionally schedule an additional meeting after the final meeting, to deal with any late submissions (e.g. approved as a result of disability or ill health).  This meeting may be held by teleconference if necessary.

These changes can be found in Sections 1.5 and 2.3.2 of Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved in University Examinations MT 2013.

All examinations: Regulations relating to religious festivals and holidays coinciding with examinations: 21/10/13

Examinations Panel agreed to approve a regulation change to allow students who are fasting for reasons of faith to request alternative examination arrangements under Part 12 of the Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations. It is expected that the main adjustment made will be to allow students who are fasting for reasons of faith to sit examinations in the morning rather than the afternoon. Arrangements for the incarceration of such students in Examination Schools are being considered and will be communicated to colleges in due course. Examination Regulations, 2013, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 12, pp35-36.

Monitoring of English language conditions for international graduate students: 21/10/13

During the next admissions round the Graduate Admissions and Funding Office will collect information on English language conditions set by UABs at the time of offer. This was agreed by Graduate Panel in response to concerns that English language requirements or recommendations are not always followed up. The new arrangement will enable better monitoring with the support of the Language Centre.

Paid Work Guidelines for graduate students: 21/10/13

Education Committee has approved guidelines for Graduate students on the amount of paid work they can undertake without adversely affecting their studies:

  • Full-time graduate students on a taught course (such as a Master’s) should not undertake more than 8 hours’ paid work each week whilst studying. The number of weeks of full-time study required will depend on the course structure. Students should check the structure of their own course, and its implications for any paid work, with their department or faculty. Students on research degree courses (such as a DPhil) are advised that any paid work should still allow them to spend at least 40 hours per week for a minimum of 44 weeks of the year on their studies.
  • Part-time graduate students should ensure that any paid work does not interfere with the commitment of time required for their course. Part-time graduate students wishing to begin or continue with paid work are encouraged to speak to their department or faculty in advance about how it could fit with their course. They are also encouraged to speak to their employer to ensure that any study leave requirements may be accommodated.

PGT courses: Changes to policy on providing feedback to students: 21/10/13

In Michaelmas term 2011, faculties and departments were asked to implement changes to their arrangements to improve the quality of feedback to students on postgraduate taught (PGT) courses. A review of this policy took place in 2012-13 and as a result a number of modifications have been agreed.

The new policy required faculties and departments to provide written feedback on formative assessment in the first term, encouraged feedback on early summative assessments, and required provision of written feedback on dissertations or theses. The recently agreed changes clarify the ways in which feedback may be provided on early summative assessments. The agreed protocol is as follows:

Supervisory bodies are encouraged to provide feedback, via examination boards, on any elements of summative assessment which are undertaken prior to the final term of the course. Early summative assessment may be understood to include assessments in Trinity term in the case of 12-month courses where responsible bodies consider that feedback on these will support students’ progress on the remainder of the course. Supervisory bodies may direct examination boards to provide feedback in one of the following ways:

  1. Final marks: the exam board must meet in full (the external may be included by teleconference) to confirm and release marks to students via the Academic Records Office. In circumstances where final marks cannot be confirmed, i.e. where the examiners consider that scaling may be required, the board may, exceptionally, apply for permission from the Proctors to release unconfirmed marks. Unconfirmed marks should be provided to students by the department or faculty accompanied by the wording: ‘The marks provided are provisional and may be reviewed and amended at the final meeting of the Examination Board’
  2. Written feedback: this may accompany final marks or be provided without marks. Where examination boards wish to give written feedback without marks, they are not obliged to meet in full, but the Chairman is required to approve the feedback on the board’s behalf before it is released to students.
  3. When providing feedback for part-time courses, boards may, alternatively, follow the protocol for provision of feedback established by the Department for Continuing Education.

Supervisors may be provided with copies of feedback for on-course summative assessment.

These changes appear in the Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved in University Examinations MT 2013. Departments and faculties are asked to ensure that their guidance for examiners accords with this protocol.

Where (1) above applies, in order for Examination Schools to support examination boards with the issuing of results and entry forms for re-sits, departments and faculties are also asked to send timetables of early summative assessments (confirmation of results, schedule for re-sits) to the Academic Records Office as soon as possible.

Revision of policy and guidance on research degrees: 21/10/13

A working group made up of representatives from divisions, departments, colleges, OUSU and Education Policy Support has been revising the Policy and Guidance on Research Degrees. Revision of the section on admissions was completed and published in June 2013. Work on other sections is continuing, and the revised policy will be completed during Michaelmas term 2013. Departments and faculties are now asked to ensure that their arrangements meet the new requirements.

Research degrees: Changes to examinations: 21/10/13

Following consultation across the collegiate University, the University’s Education Committee has approved a number of changes to regulations for research degree progression and examination which come into effect from 13 October 2013 (Michaelmas term 2013). These changes are summarised below.

1. Major corrections and changes to time limits

A new ‘major corrections’ option for DPhil examination outcomes will be introduced which will give the examiners of research degrees an outcome option mid-way between minor corrections and referral.  Also introduced will be changes to the time limits for completion of work arising out of the examiners’ recommendations. In addition, candidates whose thesis is referred will be required to provide at resubmission a separate report indicating the specific changes made to the revised thesis, the word limit of which has been stipulated by divisional boards. The outcome types, time limits for changes and report lengths for each research degree are summarised in the tables below.

Doctor of Philosophy

Outcome

Old time limit for changes

New time limit for changes

Report of changes with resubmission?

Minor corrections

3 months (with possible 3 month extension)

1 month (with possible 1 month extension)

N/A

Major corrections

N/A

6 months

N/A

Referral back

7 terms

6 terms

MPLS – 2000 words

Others – 1000 words

 

 

 

 

 

 

Master of Letters/ Master of Science by Research

Outcome

Old time limit for changes

New

Report of changes with resubmission?

Minor corrections

3 months (with possible 3 month extension)

1 month (with possible 1 month extension)

N/A

Referral back

4 terms

3 terms

MPLS – 2000 words

Others – 1000 words

These changes apply to all submissions, including resubmissions. In all cases, the new time limit applies from the date the candidate receives the list of corrections/ revisions required.

Students who submit before 13 October 2013 but who do not have their viva until after 13 October will be examined under the old regulations.

2. Outright failure on the first attempt

Effective 13 October 2013, examiners will no longer have the option of recommending an outcome of outright fail on the first attempt for MLitt/ MSc(Res) examinations.  This aligns with the options available to DPhil examiners.

3. Maximum number of terms’ extension permitted

In addition, the maximum number of terms’ extension permitted for DPhil students will be reduced from nine terms to six terms.  Applications for extensions which would take a student beyond six terms of extension and which will include Michaelmas term 2013 or beyond, can no longer be granted without both the full support of the student’s supervisor(s), college and department/faculty, and in addition, special dispensation from the Examination Regulations agreed by the University Education Committee. Any such application should be made through the relevant Graduate Studies Assistant in the first instance.

Please note that the maximum number of terms’ extension permitted for Master of Letters and Master of Science by Research students will also be reduced, from six terms to three terms; however this change will not come until effect until October 2014.

Research degrees: Use of audio-visual communication in vivas: 21/10/13

With effect from 1 October 2013, in exceptional circumstances, normally affecting the ability of the external examiner to be present in Oxford, application may be made to the relevant board for special permission to hold the examination using audiovisual electronic communication with the external examiner concerned.

The full regulation governing this provision can be found in Examination Regulations, 2013, p.863.

Visiting Students: Code of Practice: 21/10/13

Education Committee has approved a Code of Practice for Visiting Students that sets out the number of such students that a college can admit, as well as the responsibilities of the college in relation to its Visiting Students. The main principles of the Code are as follows:

  • The number of Visiting Students will be set by Council and no college or hall may admit an FTE of Visiting Students greater than 10 percent of its matriculated undergraduate student body. The proportion of Visiting Students in all colleges must not, in any year, exceed 5 percent of the overall undergraduate population (exceptions where they apply, are specifically provided for in the Code of Practice).
  • Visiting Students must gain admission to the University solely on the basis of academic merit, at a level and by a process which is so far as possible equivalent to that applying to matriculated students for the subject(s) concerned.
  • All those who teach Visiting Students must be capable of providing teaching of comparable quality to that provided to matriculated students.
  • The college must nominate a Director of Studies for Visiting Students, who is responsible for overseeing the academic quality of the programme, and ensuring that Visiting Students are integrated fully into the academic and social life of the college.
  • Colleges are responsible for taking disciplinary action against Visiting Students.
  • A Supervisory Committee on Visiting Students will be appointed that will monitor the operation of the Code. Each college taking Visiting Students is required to make a return annually to the Supervisory Committee.

The full Code is available on the Conference Website https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/x/qFRMME.

Graduate induction timetable: 01/07/2013

Following consultation with colleagues in colleges, divisions, departments and faculties on proposals to revise the graduate induction timetable, it has been agreed that the timetable for 2013/14 should only include one minor change: the allocation of Tuesday evening to departments and faculties.

Further consultation on induction and any changes to the timetable for 2014/15 will be carried out over the coming months and a revised timetable for 2014/15 will be communicated in due course. 

The timetable for graduate induction for Michaelmas term 2013 is as follows:

 

9:00am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 5:00pm

5:00pm – 9:00pm

Monday 7 Oct

Dept/faculty

Dept/faculty

College

Tuesday 8 Oct

Dept/faculty

Dept/faculty

Dept/faculty

Wednesday 9 Oct

College

College

College

Thursday 10 Oct

College

Dept/faculty (to 6pm)

College (from 6pm)

Friday 11 Oct

College

College

College