English students ‘can have a high degree of confidence’ exams will be online again

Durham is expected to announce at the end of October about whether all exams will be online again

The Durham University English Department has an announced in an email to all undergraduate English students, that the end of year exams will almost definitely be online again this summer.

Professor John Nash, the Head of Department for English, said in the email that students “can have a high degree of confidence that the overall, general format of exams will be similar to those you have taken in the past two years (if you are current L2 and L3).”

All English exams held for the past two academic years have been online, meaning that Professor Nash all but confirms the same format again for this year. However, he adds that the specific exam format for each module will be confirmed in Epiphany Term, as is usual.

The email also informs students that the University is expected to announce whether all exams will be held online again at the end of October.

This decision is reportedly reaching a conclusion after consulting students and staff over the summer, and comparing data “on various attainment gaps in online and in-person exams”.

The English Department conducted its own student and staff survey on the matter, which found that “online exams (of a standard 2 or 3 hour duration, undertaken over a 24 hour period) work well in English, that they offer a good reflection of expected student attainment and a fair challenge, and have the support of a large majority of students at L2 and L3”.

Whilst Professor Nash impressed the Department’s “clear direction” in how exams will be held, he noted that some modules, such as Old English, may be in person due to the testing of language acquisition, which may be more heavily benefitted by being held online.

First year students who have not sat an online exam before will be invited to sessions explaining the process of online exams, depending on the University’s decision at the end of the month. The preparation of these sessions further hints to how exams are expected to be held.

The email ends with Professor Nash’s hope that the information is “reassuring”, and asks students not to contact module convenors, who will not know anything about the decision until the University’s announcement.


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