The Busyness of Examination Time

Just time this evening for the briefest of brief posts. This is probably the busiest week of the year at the University of Sussex, and it’s not over yet. The main reason for this busyness is the business of examinations, assessment and degree classification.

This morning we had our meeting of the School Progression and Award Board for Years 3 and 4 at which, among other things, we sorted out the classification for honours of our graduating students. This involves distilling the marks gained over several years of assessments down to a final “Grand Mean”. It’s not a trivial process but I’m glad to say it went off very smoothly.

The pass lists have now gone to be officially signed off by the University administration. They will be posted tomorrow at noon, at which time we’ll have a celebratory drink or several ready for those getting their results.

One of my duties as Head of School is to chair this meeting, but I don’t take credit for the successful running of the meeting because all the hard work of preparation was done by our excellent office staff, especially Oonagh and Chrystelle.

That done there was time for a quick sandwich lunch before heading off to Stanmer House for a teaching “away afternoon” for the Department of Physics & Astronomy, at which we discussed ideas for improvements to the way we teach and assess students.


I’m actually in the group sitting under the parasol in the left foreground.

Stanmer House is set in beautiful parkland just a short walk from Sussex University. I took the more strenuous route over the hill, but am glad I did so because the view was so nice in the glorious sunshine and it made be realise I don’t make as much of the opportunity for walking around the campus as I should.

Tomorrow is going to be another busy day but, if you’ll excuse me, I’m now going to have a glass of chilled white wine and a bite to eat.

2 Responses to “The Busyness of Examination Time”

  1. John Peacock Says:

    Peter, do you still have a pass list? In a development that makes no sense to me, Edinburgh has done away with these. For several years, the lists contained exam numbers only. But now there is no list at all: students get their individual results by email, and that’s it.

    I understand that the aim is to prevent public embarrassment of those students with poor results, but it seems to me that it makes things worse. In the old days, if you saw your friend did less well than expected, you had a little time to prepare something sympathetic to say. Now you have to ask them, and so their bad news is encountered in real time, which could be difficult for both. And they have to keep repeating this grisly process with everyone who asks.

    • telescoper Says:

      There was a proposal to stop the ritual of posting the pass list, and just sending an email, but academics (including myself) strongly opposed it. There were several reasons for this, related to the fact that most of the graduating class will be leaving today as it is the end of term. One reason is that we want to congratulate the students in person when they find out they have done well. Another is that we felt it was important that any students who didn’t get the result they wanted should have someone to talk to rather than just getting an email after they’ve left. Finally, I think we have to remember that a degree is a rite of passage in many ways and the Posting of the Pass List is felt to be an appropriate way to mark that passage in a time-honoured fashion.

      You and I both went through the ritual of waiting to see our results on the railings of Senate House, an experience I remember well to this day. I don’t think we should deprive the latest generation of a similar memory.

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