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During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Faculty of Law rapidly shifted its assessment model from one that relied heavily on closed-book handwritten examinations to a system based on open-book online examinations. In the light of this experience, and with the benefit of detailed student surveys conducted following the online assessments that took place in 2019 and 2020, the Faculty has reflected very carefully on how students should be assessed now that the constraints arising from the pandemic are (we hope) receding. We have concluded that rather than returning to a traditional assessment model, online open-book assessments should be retained, in order to align better with contemporary working and studying methods and to ensure that the focus of the Faculty’s assessments is on students’ capacity to understand and analyse, rather than to memorise, legal materials.

Against this background, the Faculty of Law will be retaining (with some significant modifications) the online open-book format as its default assessment model in the academic year 2021–22.

The ‘frequently asked questions’ set out below are intended to help current Law Tripos, LLM and MCL students to understand how examinations will work in the Faculty of Law in 2021–22. Details on other forms of assessment such as dissertations are covered by the Tripos, LLM and MCL Handbooks and are available on Moodle. Students who, having read the FAQs, have unanswered questions should consult their College Director of Studies in the first instance.

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 other measures where any breach of the University Rules of Behaviour for Registered Students as detailed in the Academic Misconduct in Law Examinations rules is suspected.

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

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". For the purposes of the present examination this is interpreted to mean that any communications between students from the point at which the examination paper is released until the end of the period in which students are permitted to submit their examination script should not, under any circumstances concern 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 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.

Q. How will plagiarism or collusion 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. 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 collusion or the only basis on which decisions to investigate plagiarism or collusion are taken. The Faculty may use other means of detection or investigation of plagiarism or collusion as appropriate.

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 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 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 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 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 Law Tripos and LLM examinations will take place during Easter term 2022. The examination timetable is determined by the University Student Registry and will be published around the beginning of Easter term 2022. The Faculty of Law does not and cannot set the dates for examinations. The timetable will not be available until it is published by the University.

MCL module examinations take place in December and March. In Easter term MCL students submit the Deals assessment and sit the exam for the corporate-related LLM course.

Q. What is the duration and word limit of each examination?

The duration of and word limits for the examinations are:

  • Law Tripos full papers: Five-hour online open book exam; 5,000-word limit
  • Law Tripos half papers: Three-hour online open book exam; 3,750-word limit
  • LLM papers: Five-hour online open book exam; 6,000-word limit
  • MCL module papers: Three-hour online open book exam; 3,750-word limit

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?

Information about accessing papers will be available nearer to the examination period.

Form and conduct of examinations

Q. How do I find the applicable Form and Conduct Notices

The applicable Form and Conduct notices will be published here in due course:

  • Law Tripos & Examination in Law for European Students
  • LLM Examination
  • MCL

Online examinations are subject to the University Rules of Behaviour for Registered Students as detailed in the Academic Misconduct in Law Examinations 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. What happens if I exceed the word limit?

The word limits for the examinations are:

  • Law Tripos full papers: Five-hour online open book exam; 5,000-word limit
  • Law Tripos half papers: Three-hour online open book exam; 3,750-word limit
  • LLM papers: Five-hour online open book exam; 6,000-word limit
  • MCL module papers: Three-hour online open book exam; 3,750-word limit

    If the applicable word limit is exceeded, Examiners will stop reading at the point at which the word limit is reached.

    Students that are entitled to disability adjustments may have an indicative only word limit. In which case although examiners will not stop reading once the word limit is reached, candidates are reminded that examiners will reward concision of expression and would not expect answers to exceed the word limit. For all other students the word limit is a firm limit and examiners will stop reading once 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 of the Word document in which you type your examination answers. 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 in a conventional closed-book exam. 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 when purporting to identify the content of the British constitution. His reasoning is that all interpretations 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 the examination window 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 the examination window 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?

    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 three or five-hour window (as applicable) is not to lengthen the examination writing period but to provide students with a degree of latitude in case of technical difficulties. Examiners’ expectations will be the same as they would have been under our pre-Covid examination conditions when examinations were sat in-person and written by hand within (in most cases) a two– or three-hour period. You are advised to approach online examinations accordingly, although you will not be penalised if you spend longer than the period that would have been available for the completion of the examination pre-Covid.

    Q. What are examiners’ expectations for this mode of assessment?

    What is expected of candidates is the same as it would have been under the in-person 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. How will I be classed?

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

    Tripos students graduating in 2023, or thereafter, will, in addition to the class awarded for each part of Tripos, also receive an overall degree classification. This will be awarded according to the following classing conventions:

    Special examination arrangements

    Q. What should I do if I have agreed special arrangements for the Law examinations in 2021-2022?

    If you have agreed special arrangements for the Law examinations in 2021-2022, 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 Lent Term, ie. 18 March 2022. 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