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General matters

Q. What is the form of the examinations?

The exams will be open-book exams with a word-limit. They are to be completed online within a period of 24 hours.

Q. Why this form of examinations?

Online exams (as described above) allow students to undertake a form of assessment that is close to our traditional model of assessment and, therefore, to receive appropriate preparation during the year, including the benefit of extensive guidance provided by past papers, examiners’ reports and sample answers.

The decision to adopt this examination model was reached in the light of the feedback that the Faculty received from students and teaching staff regarding the examinations in 2019/20, the need to take account of adjustments that would otherwise apply in respect of students with disabilities, and technical considerations. In particular, it was considered imperative that the Faculty put in place an assessment model for 2020/21 that would be resilient in the face of a challenging and unpredictable public health situation, and which would provide maximum clarity and certainty for students and teaching staff from the very beginning of the academic year. In the current circumstances, the Faculty considers online assessment to be the best way of meeting those objectives.

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 is in the process of reviewing its plans, but it is anticipated that additional measures to those specified below (i.e., the use of plagiarism detection software and the possibility of conducting vivas) may be implemented. Further details will be provided as soon as possible.

Q. What rules of conduct will apply to the examinations?

The online examinations will be subject to the Academic Misconduct in Law Examinations 2020/21 rules, details of which will be published as soon as possible. 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. The rules that applied to the online examinations sat in Easter Term 2020 are available online.

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 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 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 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 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 Director of Studies during the examination?

Detailed information about this will be provided in due course.

Q. Can I communicate with Squire Library Staff during the examination period?

Detailed information about this will be provided in due course.

Date and duration of examinations

Q. When are the exams?

The assessment timetable will be issued in due course by the University’s Student Registry, not the Faculty. The Faculty expects the exams to take place in May and June 2021.

Q. What is the duration of each examination?

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

Q. Why is the duration of each examination 24 hours?

The Faculty carefully considered whether students should be able to attempt exam papers within an open 24-hour window or within a shorter time period. In deciding to adopt a 24-hour model, the Faculty was mindful of a number of considerations, including student feedback on the 2019/20 online exams, the importance of accommodating the needs of students who would normally have adjusted arrangements on the ground of disability, and the possibility, depending on the public health situation that applies during the examination period, of needing to accommodate candidates taking exams from a variety of global time zones.

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

Irrespective of the time zone you are in, you will have, during the 24-hour assessment window, the same number of daylight/normal working hours as everyone else to complete the assessment.

Form and conduct of examinations

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

The Faculty’s Form and Conduct Notice for the Law Tripos and Examination in Law for European Students 2020/21 will be published in due course.

Q. How many questions will I have to answer?

Subject to two exceptions, you will be required to answer four questions. The first exception is Paper 37 (Jurisprudence), in which you will be required to answer three questions. The second exception is Paper 49 (Half Papers), in which you will be required to answer three questions.

Details about the number of questions that you are required to answer will be provided in the Form and Conduct Notice.

Q. What is the rubric for each paper?

Details about the rubric that applies in each paper will be provided in the Form and Conduct Notice.

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

There will be 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 Faculty’s Academic Misconduct rules. Further details of these rules will be provided in due course.

Q. What is the word limit?

In all papers except Paper 49 (Half Papers), the word limit is 5,000 words per examination paper. In Paper 49 (Half Papers), the word limit is 3,500 words per examination paper.

Q. What happens if I exceed the word limit?

If the applicable word limit is exceeded, Examiners will stop reading and disregard any further text after the point at which the word limit is reached.

Q. How will online exams work?

Details about how to access the question papers, how to present and submit your answers and other technical issues, including what to do if you experience technical problems during the assessment, will be communicated in due course.

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 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. However, spending 24 hours, or significantly longer than the period that would have been available in relation to conventional examinations, on each examination paper is inadvisable given the likely impact of doing so on your well-being. In addition, spending significantly longer on a single exam may impact on your ability to perform at your best in a subsequent exam as exams can potentially be scheduled in some proximity to one another.

Q. Given that exams will be online and open book this year, will different sorts of questions be set and/or will examiners have different/higher expectations of candidates?

It would clearly be inappropriate, in the context of open-book examinations to set questions that merely required students to recite facts or basic legal rules to which they will have ready access in their notes, textbooks and other resources. However, it has never been the Faculty’s practice to set examination questions that merely require students to recite facts or straightforward legal doctrine. Rather, examination questions have always sought to test students’ understanding of the law whether by means of applying the law to fact situations in problem questions or critically engaging with and analysing the law in essay questions. Examiners will be reminded this year that it would be inappropriate to set questions that merely required the recitation of facts or the law — but since the setting of such questions has never been part of the Faculty’s normal practice in this area, it is not anticipated that this will result in any significant changes to the type of questions that will be set. The Faculty’s marking criteria will continue to apply in the usual way.

Q. What marking criteria will apply?

The Examiners will apply the Faculty’s Tripos Marking Criteria.

Q. How does marking work?

Each paper is marked out of 200 with the exception of Paper 49 (Half Papers), each of which is marked out of 100.

Q. What examinations will be classed?

All Tripos examinations – Part IA, Part IB and Part II – will be classed. The Examination in Law for European Students is not classed.

Q. What classing conventions will apply?

The Tripos Classing Conventions will apply. In line with University policy, the safety net exceptionally adopted by the University in 2019/20 will not apply to Tripos examinations in 2020/21. As normal, Tripos students will receive a class for their Tripos Part based only on the application of the Tripos Classing Conventions to their paper results achieved in their Tripos examinations in 2020/21.

Q. What will appear on my transcript?

You will receive marks for each of your papers, an overall class and a ranking.

Q. Will prizes be awarded?

Prizes will be awarded in the papers advertised in the Law Tripos Handbook.

Special examination arrangements

Q. I have agreed special arrangements which apply to the Law examinations 2020/21. What instructions should I follow?

If you have agreed special arrangements for the Law examinations, 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 and the Examination in Law for European Students is the last day of the Lent Term, i.e., 19 March 2021. Candidates are not expected to know about any legal developments, e.g., cases, legislation, after that date for the purposes of the exams.