Mar 12, 2020

Trinity is Considering Holding Exams in August

A confidential memorandum seen by The University Times sets out the various contingencies Trinity is considering due to the coronavirus.

Donal MacNameeEditor
Alex Connolly for The University Times

College is considering delaying exams until August if assessments do not run as normal, according to internal documents obtained by The University Times.

Final exams could also be converted to written assessments, and the designated exam period could be extended, according to a confidential memorandum delivered to University Council yesterday by Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell.

Council was presented with six options under consideration by the College, with smaller exams in local venues and the redesignation of some modules as pass/fail making up the final measures that Trinity is considering implementing.


Tonight, Provost Patrick Prendergast announced in an email to staff and students that campus will from tonight be closed to everyone except residents, with identity and room cards required to enter the College, after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today instructed colleges to close until March 29th.

The contingency options were put in place yesterday, before today’s announcements.

By the time of publication, Trinity had not responded to a request for comment from The University Times. This article will be updated if a response is received.

Trinity has also put in place additional contingency dates for both the normal exam session and repeats. For summer exams – due to take place between April 27th and May 1st, with contingency dates of April 23rd, 24th and 25th – the College has requested additional contingency dates of May 2nd, May 5th to 9th, and May 11th to 16th.

For repeats – which will occur from August 31st until September 4th, with contingency dates of August 24th to 28th – the additional contingency dates in place are August 17th to 22nd and August 29th.

The memorandum states that the “spread of coronavirus and the resultant public health measures being put in place threaten severe disruption to the continuity of our academic offerings”.

It also reveals that students on placement may be asked to undertake alternative academic exercises instead of their placement, with the possibility that placements may be delayed until the summer.

On exams, the memorandum states that some measures “will be more appropriate for some modules or courses and for some years of study than others”.

Delaying exams until the re-assessment session in August, it says, “would give students only one chance and would mean some students who are being reassessed for first semester modules would have a large assessment load”. It “would also be very difficult to schedule in the current time allotted”.

Redesignating some exams as pass/fail would involve allowing students who have completed sufficient continual assessment to pass without sitting a final exam, according to the memorandum.

Trinity is also considering scrapping exams, and allocating grades based off continuous assessment, in modules where exams make up less than 50 per cent of the grade. This measure, according to the memorandum, “would be more appropriate for first and second year than for third or fourth year”, and “could be very helpful for the largest classes”.

Exams in smaller venues are an option for smaller classes, “especially in third or fourth year”, but “would only apply if large gatherings are banned but the campus remains open”. Trinity does not have the capacity to do this for all exams in the designated period, according to the memorandum.

It advised schools to put in place contingency plans for online assessment even for third and fourth years, “just in case very short notice of closure of the campus is given”.

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