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Exam mitigation and cohort equity

Q. What mitigation measures has the Faculty of Law adopted for the 2020-2021 examinations?

All Tripos and LLM Examiners with responsibility for papers that offer a choice of questions have been required to consider whether their papers contain a range of question choice that is fair in the particular context of the current academic year. Examiners have been asked to take special account of the fact that students may have experienced disruption or difficulty this year that may have diminished their capacity to prepare as thoroughly and consistently across the full scope of each relevant syllabus as might be expected in a ‘normal’ year. Where it was judged appropriate to do so, Examiners were expected to make suitable changes to their papers. In those circumstances, such changes might involve one or more of the following measures:

  • adding new questions;
  • rewriting existing questions;
  • supplementing existing questions by introducing an ‘either/or’ element to give candidates an additional option in respect of a given topic (while ensuring that questions that would unduly overlap cannot be attempted consistently with the rubric);
  • in the case of papers that are normally divided into sections, altering the rubric to remove any requirement to answer at least one question from each section.

Draft examination papers prepared in the light of that guidance were sent to exam scrutiny panels, which were asked to evaluate draft examination papers with reference, among other things, to the requirement that the range of question choice should be fair in the context of the current academic year.

Q. How will cohort equity operate in 2020-2021?

Examiners will ensure cohort equity, namely that the class distributions for this year’s cohorts of students are no less favourable than the last three years before the pandemic (2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019).

The Law Faculty has clarified with the University that cohort equity will only operate in students’ favour: in other words, cohort equity would not require any scaling down of marks in the event of cohort outperformance of the relevant three-year norm.

This cohort equity model operates at the level of classification for each part of the Tripos ie. Part IA, Part IB and Part II, as well as for the LLM and MCL.

Integrity and rules of conduct of examinations

Q. How will the academic integrity of the exams be maintained?

Maintaining the academic integrity of the exams is of paramount importance to the Faculty and the University. The Faculty may make use of plagiarism detection software and/or vivas where any breach of the University Rules of Behaviour for Registered Students as detailed in the Academic Misconduct in Law Examinations 2020/21 rules is suspected.

Q. What declarations regarding examination conduct will students make in submitting their examination scripts?

Students will be asked to submit an electronic cover sheet with their examination answers. This cover sheet contains the following declaration:

In submitting this form with my examination answers, I acknowledge that under the Rules of Behaviour for Registered Students no such student shall engage in any form of academic misconduct, which includes plagiarism, and that academic misconduct can lead to serious disciplinary consequences.

I further acknowledge that this examination is subject to rule 8 of the rules made by the Examination and Assessment Committee for the conduct of examinations, that is "No candidate shall communicate with any other candidate during an examination session", which, for the purposes of the present examination, is interpreted to mean that any communications between students during the 24 hour assessment period for this examination should not, under any circumstances, discuss the nature and content of the exam, nor the course to which this exam relates.

By completing this form you signify your understanding of the terms above. You do not need to sign this section.

Students must not include their name in the cover sheet or in their examination answers.

Q. What is Academic Misconduct?

‘Academic misconduct’ is gaining or attempting to gain, or helping others to gain or attempt to gain, an unfair academic advantage in formal University assessment, or any activity likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship and research.

Academic misconduct also includes:

  • Plagiarism: using someone else’s ideas, words, data, or other material produced by them without acknowledgement;
  • Self-plagiarism: using the Registered Student’s own ideas, words, data or other material produced by them and submitted for formal assessment at this University or another institution, or for publication elsewhere, without acknowledgement, unless expressly permitted by the assessment;
  • Contract cheating: contracting a third party to provide work, which is then used or submitted as part of a formal assessment as though it is the Registered Student’s own work;
  • Collusion: working with others and using the ideas or words of this joint work without acknowledgment, as though it is the Registered Student’s own work, or allowing others to use the ideas or words of joint work without acknowledgment;
  • Impersonating someone or being impersonated in an examination or arranging for someone to impersonate someone else by sitting their examination;
  • Fabrication, falsification or misrepresentation of data, results or other outputs or aspects of research, including documentation and participant consent, or presenting or recording such data, etc, as if they were real; or
  • Failure to meet legal, ethical and professional obligations in carrying out research. This includes failure to follow agreed protocol if this failure results in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, other sentient beings or the environment, and facilitating of misconduct in research by collusion in, or concealment of, such actions by others. It includes any plan or conspiracy to attempt to do any of these things.

Q. What are the applicable Academic Misconduct Rules?

Online examinations are subject to the University Rules of Behaviour for Registered Students as detailed in the Academic Misconduct in Law Examinations 2020/21 rules. By taking courses at Cambridge and by submitting your answers to the examination questions in each paper, you agree to adhere to the University’s and Faculty’s Academic Misconduct rules (see also the declarations, detailed above, that students are required to make when submitting their examination answers).

Q. What is self-plagiarism?

For the purpose of this year's Law assessments, the term 'formal assessment' in the University's definition of self-plagiarism will be taken to refer only to work that has been submitted for the purpose of summative, as distinct from formative, assessment. For the avoidance of doubt, this means that essays or mock examinations submitted during the course of the year (eg. to supervisors) for the purpose of formative feedback will not be treated by the Faculty of Law as material that has been submitted for formal assessment for the purpose of applying the definition of self-plagiarism.

Q. What are the consequences of breaching Academic Misconduct Rules?

The University requires all registered students to behave in accordance with University regulations and rules. Where it appears that a student may not have behaved as required, this will be investigated, and where a breach of the rules has occurred, penalties or sanctions may be imposed.

Information about the University’s Student Discipline Procedure is available via the Office for Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA) website.

In addition to the penalties or sanctions available through the University’s disciplinary procedures, it is important to note that whilst in general the University has guaranteed that all first and second year Tripos students who take all of their required assessments will automatically progress to their next year of their Tripos, where academic misconduct is found, progression will no longer be automatic and will be dependent on the sanctions or penalties imposed by the Examiners, Student Discipline Officer or Discipline Committee.

Q. How will plagiarism be detected?

Please read the Faculty guidance and University guidance as to what constitutes plagiarism.

The Faculty will use plagiarism detection software (Turnitin) as an integral part of the examination process. This will provide a similarity review, which can be used as a means of detection or investigation of academic misconduct in relation to Law examinations in 2020/21. When undertaking similarity reviews via Turnitin, Examiners and Chairs of Examiners will exercise careful judgement. Similarity reviews are not the only basis for the detection of plagiarism or the only basis on which decisions to investigate plagiarism are taken.

You may be asked to take an online viva (oral interview) in relation to the examinations in 2020/21. Such vivas will be conducted only for the purpose of detecting or investigating concerns relating to academic misconduct and will not form part of the examination assessment as such. You will not be required to make any additional preparations for a viva.

Q. Will I have to take a viva?

You may be asked to take an online viva (oral interview) in relation to Law examinations in Easter Term 2021. Such a viva will be conducted only for the purpose of detecting or investigating concerns relating to academic misconduct, and will not form part of the assessment as such. You are not required to make preparations for a viva.

Q. Can I communicate with other candidates during the examination?

You must not communicate with any other candidate in relation to matters falling within the syllabus of a particular paper, or in relation to questions or answers in the examination, during the 24-hour examination period in that paper. Communication of this sort during an examination constitutes collusion and thus academic misconduct under the Faculty and University Academic Misconduct rules.

Q. Can I communicate with my Supervisors, Course Convenors, Lecturers, Seminar Leaders or Workshop Leaders during the examination?

You must not communicate with members of the Faculty or others in their capacity as Supervisors, Course Convenors, Lecturers, Seminar Leaders or Workshop Leaders in relation to matters falling within the syllabus of a particular paper, or in relation to questions or answers in the examination, during or after the 24-hour examination in that paper.

Q. Can I communicate with my Supervisors during the examination?

You must not communicate with your Supervisors in relation to matters falling within the syllabus of a particular paper, or in relation to questions or answers in the examination, during or after the 24-hour examination in that paper.

Q. Can I communicate with my Director of Studies during the examination?

You must not communicate with your Director of Studies in their capacity as Supervisors, Course Convenors, Lecturers, Seminar Leaders or Workshop Leaders in relation to matters falling within the syllabus of a particular paper, or in relation to questions or answers in the examination, during or after the 24-hour examination in that paper.

You may communicate with your Director of Studies during the examination if you need to notify them (and/or your College Tutor) that you are experiencing illness, technological disruption or other form of disruption which may impede your performance in the examination.

Q. Can I communicate with Squire Library Staff?

Access to library resources, including electronic legal databases, ebooks and ejournals, will continue to be available for use by students throughout the assessment period and will be accessible even when the assessments are taking place. While students are not prohibited from contacting the Squire Law Library team during assessment for the purpose of seeking access to resources, the Squire team cannot guarantee to respond to such queries within the relevant 24-hour examination window. In the light of this, and bearing in mind the possibility of unscheduled disruptions to the online services, students are strongly advised to ensure that they have relevant resources to hand before the beginning of each assessment.

Q. Who should I contact if I experience a computing problem during the examination period?

If the problem relates to the examination system on Moodle then you must contact the University Information Services. They can be contacted at moodlehelp@uis.cam.ac.uk. This cannot be dealt with by the Faculty as the system is operated entirely within the University Information Services team

If, however, the problem relates to your own equipment/internet connection, then the Faculty Computer Office team may be able to offer help and advice on this. Please note that the Faculty Computer Office team will only be available during 9am-5pm Monday-Friday UK time. You may also be able to seek support from your College IT office.

Students should also notify their College Tutor if they experience a technological problem during the examination period.

Date and duration of examinations

Q. When are the examinations?

The assessment timetable has been published by the University’s Student Registry.

Q. What is the duration of each examination?

The duration of the examination window for each paper is 24 hours, meaning that you must submit your answers within 24 hours of the published start time of that examination.

Queries during the assessment

Q. Can I raise a query about the question paper during the assessment?

There is no mechanism available to raise a query about the question paper during the assessment (for example, if you think there is an error in one of the questions). If you have queries regarding the question paper or the assessment, please continue with the assessment to the best of your ability and raise these queries with your College Tutor and/or Director of Studies after the assessment; and if you have any concerns that fall within the University’s Examination Review Procedure, you may opt to use that route.

If an error in a question paper is identified, the Examiners will be required to exercise appropriate discretion during marking with due regard to consistency and fairness for all candidates.

Accessing the examination paper

Q. Where will I find the examination paper?

You will be enrolled on a new course on a newly-created 'Assessment Moodle' for each examination you are sitting. The Law Faculty will in due course provide links to these new assessment course pages by posting a message on the normal Moodle course page for each paper (eg. the Civil I (Paper 10) page on Moodle where lecture handouts, past examination papers etc are found) and by maintaining a central web page containing the relevant links.

Your courses will be listed on the dashboard on the Assessment Moodle.

You will be able to access the Moodle courses containing your assessments at 9.00 am BST, three days before the relevant assessment is due to begin. The question paper, rubric and assignment tool for submitting your answers will be displayed but be greyed out and inaccessible until the assessment begins. This means that you will not be able to read or download the question paper until the start of the 24-hour assessment period.

More information on access to online assessments is available on Moodle.

Please check that you have access to the relevant Moodle courses before the assessment period begins. If you have any issues, contact onlineexams@admin.cam.ac.uk as soon as possible.

Form and conduct of examinations

Q. Where can I find the Form and Conduct Notices?

The Faculty’s Form and Conduct notices for the Law Tripos, the Examination in Law for European Students, and the LLM Examination have been revised in line with the Faculty’s policy on mitigation for the 2020-2021 assessments. The MCL Form and Conduct notice has not been revised.

Online examinations are subject to the University Rules of Behaviour for Registered Students as detailed in the Academic Misconduct in Law Examinations 2020/21 rules. By taking courses at Cambridge and by submitting your answers to the examination questions in each paper, you agree to adhere to the University’s and Faculty’s Academic Misconduct rules

Q. What is the examination cover sheet?

Students will be asked to submit a cover sheet with their examination answers to each assessment. This cover sheet asks students for the questions that they have answered and a declaration of the word count. In submitting the examination paper students also agree to make the declaration contained in the cover sheet (see above). The cover sheet must be submitted using the same system at the examination paper.

Q. How many questions will I have to answer? What is the rubric for each paper?

Details about the number of questions that you are required to answer and the rubric that applies in each paper can be found in the relevant revised Form and Conduct Notice.

Q. Can I refer to notes and other resources while writing my answers?

There are no restrictions on referring during the assessment to notes, books and other materials, whether on paper, in computer files or online, including Moodle course pages, subject to the Academic Misconduct rules.

Q. Is there a word limit? What happens if I exceed it?

Details about the word limits that apply in each paper can be found in the relevant revised Form and Conduct Notice. If the applicable word limit is exceeded, Examiners will stop reading at the point at which the word limit is reached.

Do not copy out the examination question in the Word document when answering the question.

You must clearly state the total word count in both your examination cover sheet and at the beginning the Word document in which you type your examination answers: see further below. There is no need to provide a word count for each individual answer.

Presentation of examination answers

Q. In what format should I submit my answers?

All answers must be typed in a Word document as a single file. You must type your answers in the Word document in a 12-point font. The font that you use should be a conventional one, for example, Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or Garamond.

Q. May I include diagrams in my answers?

Diagrams created within a Word document using functions in Word are permitted provided any words or letters in, or associated with, those diagrams are capable of being counted by the word count function. The insertion of photographs, pictures or external diagrams into the Word document is not permitted.

Q. If I use diagrams or tables in my answer will this count towards the word limit?

There is no expectation that you will use diagrams or tables in your answer, but where such materials are incorporated, all words and labels will count towards the word limit.

Q. What candidate ID should I include in the Word document containing my examination answers?

You must use your Blind Grading ID (candidate number) in place of your name at the start of the Word document containing your answers. (For information on how to access your Blind Grading ID, see below). Please DO NOT include your name or your CRSid anywhere in the Word document.

Q. How should I indicate in the Word document containing my examination answers which examination questions I have attempted?

In addition to the cover sheet, you must type the number of each question to which you are responding at the start of each answer. If a question contains parts, you must type the relevant question part at the start of your answer to each part.

Q. Should I use footnotes or otherwise include full references to cases and other sources?

You should not use footnotes.

There is no expectation that references will be fuller than those that you would have provided under normal circumstances. This means, for instance, that you do not need to include neutral or Law Reports citations for cases. The information you provide should be sufficient to enable the Examiner to understand the case to which you are referring. For example, it is adequate to simply cite Donoghue v Stevenson.

Where citing a secondary source it is sufficient to simply state the name of the author. For example, where discussing Trevor Allan’s book T.R.S Allan The Sovereignty of Law: Freedom, Constitution and Common Law (OUP, 2013) it would be adequate to simply state ‘Allan argues…’. 

Q. When must I quote a source and when should I use quotation marks?

You must use quotation marks and indicate the author of the quotation whenever you directly quote from another source. For example:

"Allan ‘denies that there is any neutral, detached, descriptive ground on which a lawyer may stand in drawing conclusions about the requirements of English (or Scottish or European) law, in general, or the content of the British constitution, in particular.’ He ‘insists that any statement of law is always a matter of interpretation, and that interpretation (is in the present context) necessarily normative: it draws on moral and political ideas and values to support one reading rather than another.’"

Where instead of quoting directly you draw upon the ideas contained in a particular source and paraphrase them then you will need to indicate the author of those ideas. For example, where you have drawn upon Allan’s quotation above you would state:

"Allan has argued that it is impossible to be neutral in determining the content of the law his reasoning is that all understandings of law are normative ones that are premised upon moral and political ideas."

Q. Do I need to include a word count?

You must clearly state the total word count at the beginning of your answers in the Word document containing your examination answers, as well as in the electronic cover sheet: see above. There is no need to provide a word count for each individual answer.

Preparation and submission of the examination cover sheet

Q. What is the examination cover sheet?

Students will be asked to submit an electronic examination cover sheet in addition to a Word document containing their examination answers to each assessment. The examination cover sheet asks students to give their Blind Grading ID (candidate number), specify the questions that they have answered and declare their total word count for all examination answers.

In submitting their examination answers, students also agree to make the declaration contained on the cover sheet (see above). The electronic cover sheet must be submitted using the same system as used for the candidate's examination answers.

Q. What filename should I use when saving my examination cover sheet?

Please save your cover sheet for each exam as your Blind Grading ID (candidate number) followed by the paper title. Please ensure the information appears in that order. For example, the file name of the Word document containing the cover sheet with Blind Grading ID 1234A in the Civil Law I assessment it should be ‘1234A – Civil Law I - Cover sheet’.

Do not include your name or CRSid.

Q. How should I submit my examination cover sheet?

You must submit your examination cover sheet within 24 hours of the published start time of the examination by uploading two Word documents (one for the cover sheet and one for your examination answers) using the assignment tool in the Assessment Moodle course. Do not submit these as PDF files.

Once you have uploaded both Word documents, you need to click 'Submit' at the bottom of the page. It is not possible to change your submission after you have clicked 'Submit'. Do not click on 'Submit' until you have ensured that both Word documents are uploaded.

Submission of examination answers

Q. Where do I find my Blind Grading ID (Candidate Number)?

You will be able to view your Blind Grading ID before the assessment period starts, within your profile in Moodle. To find this you need to log in to Moodle in the usual way and then follow the steps below:

  1. Click on your name in the top right-hand corner of the screen
  2. Click on Profile
  3. Your Blind Grading ID will be displayed at the bottom of the User details screen

If the Blind Grading ID field is empty or you need any other assistance in this regard, please contact the University’s Moodle helpdesk: moodlehelp@uis.cam.ac.uk

Please note that the details you may see above your Blind Grading ID might state ‘not set’; these details are not required for this purpose and you are advised to ignore them.

More information on access to your Blind Grading ID is available on Moodle.

Q. What if I am in a different time zone?

If you are not currently resident in the UK, you must update the time zone in your Moodle profile to ensure that the times shown in the system, such as assessment deadlines, are correct for your location.

To update your time zone in Moodle, you need to log in to Moodle in the usual way and then follow the steps below:

  1. Click on your name in the top right-hand corner of the screen
  2. Click Profile
  3. Click Edit profile
  4. From the Timezone field, select the appropriate time zone for your location
  5. At the bottom of the page click Update profile.

More information on time zone settings is available on Moodle.

Q. How should I write my answers? (for more details, see ‘Preparation of examination answers’ above)

As explained above, examination answers must be typed in a Word document as a single file. This Word document must include your Blind Grading ID (candidate number) and not your name. You must state the total word count at the beginning of your answers. You must also type the number of each question to which you are responding at the start of each answer.

Q. What filename should I use when saving the Word document containing my examination answers?

Please save your examination answers for each exam as your Blind Grading ID (candidate number) followed by the paper title. Please ensure the information appears in that order. For example, ‘1234A – Civil Law I’.

Do not include your name or CRSid.

Q. How should I submit my answers?

You must submit your examination script and the examination cover sheet within 24 hours of the published start time of the examination by uploading two Word documents (one containing your examination answers as a single file, and one for the cover sheet) using the assignment tool in the Assessment Moodle course. Do not submit these as PDF files.

Once you have uploaded both Word documents, you need to click 'Submit' at the bottom of the page. It is not possible to change your submission after you have clicked ‘Submit’. It is therefore vital that you do not click 'Submit' until you have ensured that both word documents are uploaded.

Q. What if I have technical problems during submission?

An additional grace period of one hour will be provided after the end of the assessment window, during which you may still submit your answers if you have been delayed for technical reasons. If you are unable to submit your assessment via Moodle, please email the file to the University Exams Office at the email address provided on your assessment course page on Moodle. You should also contact your College Tutor and/or Director of Studies as soon as possible to inform them about this. In the event that you successfully submit your assessment to both Moodle and the University Exams Office, the version submitted to Moodle will be used.

Marking and expectations

Q. How long should I spend writing my answers?

The point of the 24-hour window is not to lengthen the examination writing period but to accommodate the possibility of participation from different time zones, potential technical difficulties, and adjustments that would otherwise apply in respect of students with disabilities. Examiners’ expectations will be the same as they would have been under our normal examination conditions when examinations have been sat in-person and written by hand within (in most cases) a two– or three-hour period. The word limit specified for this year’s online examinations is intended to approximate to the amount that students can generally write by hand under normal examination conditions. Hence, although there will be a 24-hour assessment window for each paper, the expectations regarding the quantity and quality of the work that you produce in response to the question paper remains the same as would have been the case in relation to conventional examinations. You are advised to approach online examinations accordingly, although you will not be penalised if you spend longer than the period that would normally have been available for the completion of a conventional examination.

Q. Will examiners have greater expectations given the 24-hour assessment model?

What is expected of candidates is the same as it would have been under the normal assessment model. Examiners will not have greater expectations or apply higher marking standards when marking examination answers.

Q. What marking criteria will apply?

The Faculty’s normal Tripos and LLM Marking Criteria and MCL Marking Criteria will apply.

Q. What if performance across my cohort is lower this year?

Cohort equity as detailed above will apply.

Q. Will I be classed?

All Tripos, LLM and MCL students will be classed according to the classing conventions:

Special examination arrangements

Q. I have agreed special arrangements which apply to the Law examinations in Easter Term 2021. What instructions should I follow?

If you have agreed special arrangements for the Law examinations in Easter Term 2021, please follow those arrangements. Those arrangements supersede any instructions found above in so far as the instructions above are inconsistent with those arrangements. If you have any questions about this, please consult your College Tutor and/or Director of Studies.

Other useful information

Q. What is the cut-off date for examinable material?

The cut-off date for examinable material in the Law Tripos, the Examination in Law for European Students and the LLM is the last day of the Lent Term, ie. 19 March 2021. Candidates are not expected to know any legal developments, eg. cases and legislation, after that date for the purposes of the exams.

A step-by-step guide summarising your key action points

Q. See below