Covid-19: Information on remote exams

6 May 2020

All teaching is being done remotely. The J F Allen building, in common with many other buildings in the University, is closed. Our students are still encouraged to contact staff members with any queries, and that can often best be started with an email. Staff in Student Services continue to be available, albeit remotely, for consultation with students. We recognise that this is a difficult time for students and staff, and for some members of our community it is particularly so.

General Information



All AS and PH modules that were scheduled to have exams will have an online-delivered exam-paper to be sat under "open-book" conditions, taken under the University's regulations. Please note from the material at the link above that additional time will be permitted for uploading your exam script. We anticipate that most AS and PH candidates will hand-write their solutions on paper, and then will use an app such as Microsoft's Office Lens to create a single pdf file of their work for uploading to the University. Some candidates may use a tablet or other means to create the necessary single pdf file for upload.

The University has put in place a number of allowances to recognise the disruption caused by the Covid-19 situation, please see mention of some below. Some students have had their education affected more than others, for example through significant illness or long quarantines with no internet, and they may wish to consider applying to defer their exams to the August diet.

"Practice" of online exam process - added 29 April, expanded 30 April 2020

We encourage all students to practice the download and upload process in the new exams online system, as requested by the Deans and referred to as a dress rehearsal. No exam papers are supplied in this practice process, and it it not likely that uploaded material will be looked at. However, it is essential that exam candidates get familiar with the way that the exam papers will be provided to you, and to get familiar with using Microsoft's Office Lens (or similar) to photograph your work and create a pdf file and upload that to the exam system.

Copy of email from the Deans, 28 April 2020 section


Taking the exam - added 6 May 2020

Students must show the mathematical workings in all their answers. Simply stating that some computational package says that the answer to this set of equations is something is not the same as you demonstrating line by line that this is the case. Many questions will require the mathematical working to be shown to obtain full marks. Additionally, showing your working may allow you to gain some marks if you do not get the full answer out successfully.

Please note that if you are using MS Office Lens then there is a 30 page limit to the pdf file it can generate in one go. Therefore, if you think you might write a script of more than 30 pages, we strongly recommend that you practise merging two pdf files into a single file.

We ask that you number each page of your script in the top right hand corner, so that you and the examiners can check that each page has been captured in the pdf you upload.

Please carefully check that the pdf file that you upload contains all your work, and that your answers are clearly labelled with the question numbers.

Please retain the paper copy of your exam script securely till after the module results are announced. It may be that we will have to ask you to post that paper copy to us for inspection.

Please re-read the exam guidance provided on the University's web pages to check that you are clear about what is expected.


Recommendations for preparation for open book exams in AS and PH modules - added 29 April

Our recommendation is that you prepare for the coming open book exams in a similar way to what has been successful for you in past exams. This time round you know that you have the fallback of referring to your notes if you need to, but for the benefit of your future studies as well as these exams you want to be as familiar with the module material as you can be. Your coming exams are still time-limited, so you are not likely to have lots of time to refer to your notes.

AS and PH exams are in a similar style to usual, so there may be some relatively "easy" marks on definitions and the like. There will also be some marks that require a good functional understanding of the content in the module and associated skills.

We suggest aiming for a good functional understanding of the material in the module, as usual. That will likely be of great help for those of you studying with us again next session, and will likely be useful for you in the online exam.

We suggest that in preparation for the exam you generate a two or three page summary of core ideas in each module and how they inter-relate, and maybe relate to work in prior or concurrent modules. This will likely be useful in "seeing the wood for the trees", getting a better functional understanding, in seeing how things link together, and for quick access during the exam.

We recommend not spending substantial time re-listening to lecture-recordings for revision: you will likely gain much more from actively working with the material. If you can not make sense of something in the recording, there is probably a gap in your knowledge or understanding that is not in the recording itself, so that it is likely to be much more useful to consult other resources such as textbooks and your notes from earlier lectures, or discuss with peers, etc.

Once you feel that you are on top of the ideas and techniques in a module, or a chunk of a module, we recommend that you then get practice in problem solving from tutorial questions, past exam papers, and maybe exercises and questions in text books.

We note that past exam questions can be useful to practice, but these should not direct your revision. It could be that this semester's exam questions cover material that has not featured in the exam for that module in recent years. 

The University publishes past exam papers for AS and PH modules; these are accessible from MySaint, Academic Activities. The School of Physics and Astronomy publishes for most of its modules one past exam paper with a draft solution and often the generic feedback supplied to that set of candidates.
These are now available on the School's website via Current students > Undergraduates > School information > Examinations - Past Paper Solutions

Honours Entry (from second year) for BSc and Integrated Masters

Information about BSc honours entry is in the "Entry to Honour" section of "Assessment and exams" of this link; the usual threshold has been decreased.

For entry to MPhys honours programmes, any requisite modules or groups of modules where the previous grade threshold for Honours entry was 15 or an average of 15, will have the grade threshold and mean threshold reduced to 13.5, with all modules passed. This is regardless of which semester this academic year the modules were taken in. For entry to the MSci Chemistry and Physics programme the above statement holds for the Maths and Physics components.

Transfer between BSc and Integrated Masters at end of JH

Students may apply in the summer to the School to move from the MPhys programme to the BSc honours programme or vice versa. For transfer from BSc to MPhys the necessary threshold of mean grade over JH modules this session has been reduced from 15 to 13.5.

Honours and MSc modules

For students in Junior Honours, Senior Honours, and the MPhys year, and some postgraduate taught modules, the University has special regulations on retrospective S-coding of modules that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis. This is covered in the "Impact on Degree Classification (S-coding)" section of "Assessment and Exams" in the above link.


If you would like to talk about any stress or problems, you can still seek support from Student Services: you can email If you would like an appointment with a counsellor, wellbeing adviser or mental health coordinator, you can email You can also book an appointment online. The University has detailed its Wellbeing resources on the University's website.

You are also welcome to contact Paul Cruickshank, the School's Wellbeing officer ( 

There are other University-provided resources that may also be helpful:

  • SilverCoud CBT is a computer-based system with programmes addressing low mood and depression, anxiety and stress (amongst other things) and you can find out more about accessing it here.
  • Nightline is the student-run listening service, running an instant messaging service. We run from 8pm to 7am on phone (01334 46 22 66 (ext. 22 66 in halls)), until midnight on instant messanger and you can also email them at
  • The Peer Support Network run by the Students' Association is operating remotely. You can find out more about it here and contact them by email at

Double rainbow over the Physics and Astronomy building.

20.04.2020, updated 6.05.2020 E&OE