10. Submission of written work

10.1. Date and time stipulated

The published regulations should stipulate when work must be handed in. The submissions desk in the Examination Schools is generally closed over the weekend and after 5pm, and thus, late submissions made on the following Monday will be three days late or made the following morning will be at least 16 hours late. Divisions have therefore agreed that all subjects should work towards having deadlines at noon rather than 5pm and on days other than Friday, with changes made to regulations as appropriate. In addition, this allows boards of examiners to impose academic penalties, as specified in the relevant conventions, for work handed in on the day of the deadline but after the time of the deadline without further reference to the Proctors (see also 10.4 below). In order to avoid problems when the date falls on a bank holiday or Easter, it is also desirable to avoid selecting Mondays or Easter closure days for submission dates when regulations are drafted. 

The examiners should remind candidates that if they present work late, they may be charged a late presentation fee, receive an academic penalty, or possibly fail the examination.

10.2. Instructions for handing in

Instructions for handing in must be circulated to all candidates in good time before the stipulated date.  A copy of these instructions should also be sent to the Head of Examinations and Assessments.  Chairs must ensure that the date and time specified are correct under the current regulations.

The Examination Schools serve as the central point for the handing in of theses or other exercises for examination.  This is because the Schools have well-established procedures for recording late submissions and notifying the Proctors which include issuing receipts and recording the time when work is presented. Only in very exceptional circumstances will the Proctors give permission for work to be presented for examination other than in the Schools.  Examiners must not accept work sent to them or departments (e.g. electronically) outside the specified handing-in arrangements. Alternative submission arrangements are only allowed if specified in Special Subject Regulations in the Examination Regulations.

Candidates must be instructed to write their candidate number, examination title and subject matter on the envelope containing their written work; they must not write their name or college.  Similarly, the written work itself should carry only the candidate’s number and neither name nor college.

Candidates should also hand in a signed declaration that the written work is their own and has not previously been submitted for examination at Oxford or elsewhere.  This declaration should be in a sealed envelope (which may be included inside the envelope used to hand in the written work).  Standard forms should be available from the department (or the department’s website) for this purpose. See Annex F: Good practice in citation and the avoidance of plagiarism for the form of declaration recommended by Education Committee.

Candidates should be clearly instructed to present their work on time in the Examination Schools.  If they are unable to present their written work by the stipulated time, they should contact their Senior Tutor.   In no circumstances should chairs enter into separate negotiation with candidates or their colleges about revised submission times.  All requests for extension of the submission date for written work must be handled by the Proctors.  Failure to obtain permission for late submission can lead to an academic penalty (see 10.4 below), and possibly failure in the examination.

10.3. Collection and distribution

The chair is responsible for arranging the sorting of written work and its distribution to examiners or assessors.  In an examination with many candidates the chair will need to arrange for assistance with this.  Staff from the Examinations and Assessments Section will assist where such support has been requested well in advance. 

Staff in the Examinations and Assessments Section will verify whether all candidates have presented the required work, liaising with the chair or administrator as necessary.  The name of any candidate who has not handed in the work required will be notified to the Proctors by the Head of Examinations and Assessments.

If the chair comes into possession of work that was not handed in at the appointed time and place, the matter should be referred to the Junior Proctor.

10.4. Late presentation of written work for examination

If a candidate is unable to present work required for examination by the stipulated date and time, the college must make an application to the Proctors for permission for the candidate to remain in the examination. Neither college nor candidate is permitted to approach the examiners direct to request an extension of time and candidates must not be offered extensions informally by tutors, supervisors, or departmental staff.

Requests Ahead of the Due Date

The procedure by which a candidate may request permission to submit a thesis or other exercise after the stipulated time, is found on pages 29-31 of the Examination Regulations 2014. The request must be made through the candidate’s college to the Proctors’ Office. Chairs and other examiners must never negotiate extensions of time directly with candidates or colleges.  After consultation with the chair about significantly long extensions, the Proctors will normally give permission where the reason is illness or other urgent and reasonable cause. Where the extension is likely to take the date of submission beyond the term of office of the current examiners, the application will normally be considered by the Chair of the Education Committee. In all cases, the applications will be considered on the basis of the evidence provided to support the additional time sought.

After the Due Date

Written work submitted after the stipulated time will be received. The Examinations and Assessments Section will inform the Proctors and Chair of Examiners of late submissions; the email to the Chair of Examiners will provide information on what steps to take depending on the circumstance. The Examinations and Assessments Section will also send an email to all candidates who submit work late, and their College, informing them of the process that will be followed.

Candidates who submit work on the day of the deadline but after the time of the deadline will be permitted to remain in the examination. Examiners should apply an academic penalty as decreed within the course marking conventions. If there are extenuating circumstances beyond the candidate’s control, candidates can ask their College to inform the Proctors accordingly. The Proctors will notify the Chair of Examiners directly if an academic penalty is to be waived, due to extenuating circumstances.

Candidates who submit work after the day of the deadline will only be permitted to remain in the examination with the permission of the Proctors and after the case has been investigated. Candidates are given the opportunity to explain, through the Senior Tutor of their college, reasons for late presentation. In cases of significant lateness the Proctors will normally enquire of chairs whether they are willing to accept the work. In all cases of submission after the deadline day, the work can be marked but no marks confirmed: the Proctors will confirm to the Chair of Examiners whether the mark can be released.

Candidates who present work late without prior permission are liable to an academic penalty, or possibly failure in the examination. A late presentation fee will usually be charged for the extra administrative work caused by late submission. (Examination Regulations, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 14, cll. 14.9-14.10, p. 31, ll. 23-42)

Academic Penalties

The Proctors have discretion to allow examiners to impose an academic penalty for late presentation, in accordance with the scale of penalties approved by the board of examiners for the exam in question.  The penalty is intended to remove any unfair advantage gained by taking more time than was available to other candidates, and examiners should be aware of the importance of fairness for all candidates.  It should be proportionate, and account must be taken of any reasons for lateness provided through the Proctors by the candidate’s college.

If a piece of work is not handed in by two weeks after a due date the Proctors may rule that the work has not been handed in at all. Failure to hand in work can lead to failure in the entire examination. (Examination Regulations, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 14, cl. 14.2, p.29, ll. 36-46)

10.5. Other contraventions of regulations

Examination boards should ensure that guidance and information on penalties is provided on other contraventions of regulations including overlong theses, unauthorised change of subject or title, and plagiarism.

10.5.1. Overlong theses

Under the regulations concerning the submission of theses or other exercises (Examination Regulations, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 16, cl. 16.6, pp. 35-36), examiners may impose an academic penalty where written work exceeds the length prescribed in the Regulations. If they agree to proceed with the examination of the work, they may reduce the mark for that item of work by up to one class (or its equivalent).

10.5.2. Unauthorised change of title or subject

Where a candidate submits a thesis or other exercise whose title or subject matter differs from that which was approved by the faculty board or other responsible body, the examiners may similarly reduce the mark by up to one class (or its equivalent).(ibid., Part 16, cl. 16.6(2), p. 35, l. 45, p. 36, l. 2)

10.5.3. Plagiarism

The Proctors’ regulations state that ‘No candidate shall present for an examination as his or her own work any part or the substance of any part of another person’s work.  In any written work (whether thesis, dissertation, essay, coursework, or written examinations) passages quoted or closely paraphrased from another person’s work must be identified as quotations or paraphrases, and the source of the quoted or paraphrased material must be clearly acknowledged’ (ibid., Part 19, cll. 4-5).  These provisions extend to material taken from the Internet. As of October 2011, the Proctors’ regulations also forbid ‘auto-plagiarism’, i.e. re-use of work previously examined at Oxford or elsewhere, unless such re-use is covered by Special Subject Regulations.  If examiners or assessors have any concern about the content of a written exercise (or about similarities between several candidates’ work), they should discuss the matter with the chair, who in turn should seek advice from the Proctors. An examiner or assessor should not decide to impose an academic penalty if intentional plagiarism is suspected and examiners should not use a viva to follow up concerns.  Any suspicions must be referred immediately to the chair and thence the Proctors.  The Proctors will normally suspend a candidate’s examination while they fully investigate such cases.

Boards of examiners may wish to use Turnitin as one tool in helping to identify potential cases of plagiarism. Points of guidance for this are given in Annex L: Proctors’ guidance for the use of Turnitin in University examinations.