Newcastle University reverse decision to cancel exams for medical students

Students have now been told they will have assessments

Medics at Newcastle University have been told the decision to cancel their end of year exams has been reversed.

In an email that was sent to medical students, the school announced there would now be assessments despite being told that they had been cancelled.

These changes differ dependant on the stage of study.

Despite the change, it does seem that all assessments will continue to work under the university’s safety net policy.

Most of the exams and deadlines are being scheduled after the university’s formal examination period.


Emails to students said: “As a result, we are going to have to reverse our decision to have no further assessment in this academic year.”

Professors also cited, in the email that, the decision in March taken by the department to cancel all planned exams, and said this decision (taken before any university-wide action) was “at odds with the subsequent University advice.”

“We are very sorry for this, we know that it will cause confusion, anxiety and distress for some of you. In the next section we outline what this decision means for you.”

1st Year

First year students will sit an exam on 18th June, almost 2 weeks after the University’s official assessment period. Their final grade for this year will be a 50:50 split between the marks achieved in semester one and the new exam.

Assessment will still come under the university’s safety net policy.

2nd Year

Second year medics received an email stating: “We are going to have to reverse our decision to have no further assessment in this academic year.”

Students will now have to complete a take home exam with a pass mark of 50%. The exam will take place on 16th June. This again lies outside of the exam period.

3rd Year

Everyone in 3rd year is being asked to write a single 1500 word reflective essay with a submission deadline of 16th June, again after the formal examination period. A choice of three options have been given and more details will be released on 5th May,

If students were red for professionalism and engagement, the decision has been made to give these students a second essay which is a “reflective professionalism assignment”.

4th Year

Fourth year students will have to either write a report on activities in semester two or complete an online education course. The deadline for both is 4th June.

The Newcastle Tab contacted the university about the reversal and they told us that changes were made after a period of consultation.

A spokesperson said: “In line with emerging national guidance from the Office for Students about teaching and assessments during the pandemic, and after consultation with the Students’ Union, we will hold assessments for MBBS students.

“This will be supported by a Safety Net, which will take into account prior academic achievement of each student.

“Our priority remains providing the best education we can for our students during these ever-changing times.”

If you’re a medical student who is working on the front line or have been severely impacted by the assessment change, we want to hear from you. Email us on [email protected]

Photo credit: Sarah May (Greenhouse Disco Gardens)