14. Feedback and resits

14.1. Feedback at First Public Examination

The policy agreed by Education Committee following extensive consultation requires the examiners of all First Public Examinations to provide candidates who fail the First Public Examination at their initial attempt with as detailed a breakdown of marks as is available for all the failed papers.

14.2. Feedback for taught graduate courses

Following two rounds of consultation, Education Committee introduced a revised policy on feedback for taught graduate courses. This policy has three parts and requires responsible bodies to:

(a)      ensure written feedback on at least one designated piece of formative assessment, e.g. essay or assignment, during the course of the first term. The purpose of this assessment would be to:

  • provide guidance to those for whom extended pieces of writing are unfamiliar forms of assessment;
  • indicate areas of strength and weakness in relation to the assessment task;
  • provide course members with an indication of the expectations and standards towards which they are working.

(b)      to consider providing feedback, via examination boards, on any elements of summative assessment which are undertaken prior to the final term of the course.  This may include Trinity term assessments for 12-month courses. Supervisory bodies may direct examination boards to provide feedback in one of the following ways:

 (i)   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.’

 (ii)  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 chair is required to approve the feedback on the board’s behalf before it is released to students.

 (iii)  When providing feedback for part-time courses, boards may, alternatively, follow the protocol for provision of feedback established by the Department for Continuing Education.

(c)  Implement (via boards of examiners) written feedback according to an agreed divisional template or framework for all PGT dissertations or theses of 5,000 words or over.

This policy permits supervisors to be provided with copies of written feedback.

The Proctors are aware of the pressure for ‘feedback’ on performance in examinations, particularly at the taught Master’s level where candidates may be thinking of going on to higher research degrees.  It is essentialthat any body of examiners wishing to provide such feedback beyond agreed marks pays careful attention to the requirements of this section, and if in doubt about any aspect of current policy, consult the Proctors.

14.3. Resits

The chair must publish a timetable for resit examinations and communicate with candidates in the same way as for other examinations.  Chairs must ensure that examiners are available for invigilation, marking and for the meeting of the board of examiners at the appropriate time; this is particularly important for the Long Vacation resit examinations.  For resits where only a subset of papers are taken, the chair may nominate a subset of the original examiners to assist him/her, provided that the Head of Examinations and Assessments and the Proctors are notified before the start of the examination.  An external examiner, if appropriate, must be included in this subset.

14.4. Arrangements for resits for postgraduate taught courses

For postgraduate taught courses Education Committee’s normal expectation is that any resits will be taken at the time the subject is examined the following year, unless the special regulations permit an alternative practice.

Where an element of an examination has been successfully completed at the first examination, then the mark for the successful element can be carried over to the succeeding year and only the element or elements which have been failed at the first examination re-taken unless otherwise specified by the special regulations for a course. In this context, ‘element’ refers to an individual paper, submission, or other exercise and not all the written papers or all the submissions.

Regulations should normally indicate what arrangements will be in place for resits. Where it is proposed that a resit may be taken earlier than the time at which the course is next examined (which is the normal University expectation), a full case must be made for this exception. It is likely that such a case will be approved only in relation to qualifying examinations where a delay would significantly increase the total length of a course or, for master’s courses, where a decision about whether candidates can or cannot proceed to PRS or doctoral status in Oxford is dependent on resitting the failed component of an examination on a shorter time scale.