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We recognise that this year assessments are being undertaken in challenging circumstances. In response, we are introducing the Academic Safety Net, an integrated set of policies and practices aiming to ensure that no student’s educational attainment is worsened as a result of the pandemic, and that each student receives the grade they deserve.
The Academic Safety Net takes into account the different circumstances in which we find ourselves in 2021: Covid-19 has affected the entire year; however, at the same time, students and staff have had time to prepare for the unique conditions of teaching and learning, and TEIs have not had to make sudden, unplanned changes to assessments and examinations (as was the case in 2020). Prior to the start of 2020/21, TEIs were asked to inform the University (and the National Ministry Team) of the changes to their activity for the academic year in response to Covid-19. This information has been updated by TEIs as more information has become available (e.g. some TEIs were only able to confirm plans on a termly basis). While TEIs have been able to make changes to methods of learning, teaching and assessment to account for the different circumstances under which assessments are being taken, we recognise the ongoing challenging circumstances.
The Academic Safety Net has been designed to apply to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. However, we recognise that not all measures – in particular, the commitment to compare a graduating student’s marks from this year to the previous year – are applicable to all postgraduate or continuing undergraduate students.
Further information on the Academic Safety Net Policy is available here: Academic Safety Net - Durham University
Please review the information contained within the Common Awards FAQs in the first instance and contact the Common Awards Team on the general mailing address if you have any questions.
Previous guidance issued on how to take the effects of Covid-19 into account when marking has been formalised and the guidance can be found in the FAQs.
5th-7th July: The Annual Conference for Theological Educators
16th July: Deadline- CIS Account Holders to complete extension requests. TEIs will receive an email this week (W.C. 7th June), with instructions on how to extend CIS accounts.
TEIs are reminded to submit concession requests and change of registration forms on an ongoing basis.
Similarly, TEIs are required to submit all student module marks 48hrs after they have been considered at their TEI Board of Examiners.
Following recent approvals, the following changes have been made to programme specifications.
V60421 Graduate Certificate
Section 9 – has been amended from:
The Graduate Certificate programme will serve a range of aspirations, from individuals wishing to achieve an award in theology, ministry and mission, to those wishing to undergird their life and work with a deeper understanding of Christian theology. Students will be expected to acquire at least 40 credits of learning in biblical studies and the Christian tradition, thereby establishing a grounding from which to explore an area of specialisation from a theological perspective. The specialism is likely to be related to the student’s own professional, vocational or ministerial context. Specialist subject areas currently included are:
An optional independent learning project offers students an opportunity to demonstrate independent study at this level.
The Graduate Certificate programme will serve a range of aspirations, from individuals wishing to achieve an award in theology, ministry and mission, to those wishing to undergird their life and work with a deeper understanding of Christian theology.
V60422 Graduate Diploma
Section 4 – SSK 1 has been amended from:
give a detailed and coherent account of methods of critical theological reflection, comparing their strengths and weaknesses in a range of new contexts in and beyond the church.
describe and analyse theological, ecclesial and contextual understandings of the nature and practices of Christian discipleship, critically evaluating such practices in relation to a range of new contexts in and beyond the church.
Module outlines are in the process of being updated to reflect this change. However, TEIs are advised to refer to the SSK3 for the BA TMM programme in the meantime for any required curriculum development changes.
Section 9 – the list of level 5/6 modules from which at least 10 credits should be studied has been removed and replaced with the following:
At Level 6 - At least 20 credits from either of these categories:
Theological Reflection and Reflective Practice
Ministry and Mission
V60907 MA in Contemporary Christian Leadership
The Programme Specification for V60907/ MA in Contemporary Christian Leadership is available for delivery from 2021-22 and can be found on the Common Awards website.
The Overarching Board of Examiners are due to be held on September 2nd (Summer) and December 2nd (Winter).
We therefore ask that TEIs hold their own Board of Examiners no later than 6th August (Summer) and 5th November (Winter). This allows the Common Awards Team enough time to process the data received from TEIs, and resolve any queries, before the Overarching Board of Examiners.
TEIs are required to submit all student module marks 48hrs after they have been considered at their TEI Board of Examiners. Further information on the documents TEIs must submit following their Board of Examiners is available here.
If you have not already done so, please let the Common Awards Team know the dates of your TEI Board of Examiners as soon as possible.
TEI’s are reminded that Boards of Examiners must ensure that the following is submitted to Durham in line with the deadlines in published guidance and the Common Awards Calendar:
Ahead of the Board of Examiners, would like to remind TEIs of the principles surrounding the conversion of marks.
Some assignments, like language tests, might produce quantitative scores. Those scores are not the marks for that assignment. In principle, they will always need to go through some process of conversion – where conversion involves making qualitative judgments about what is meant by different levels of achievement in a quantitatively scored test, and then translating those qualitative judgments into numerical marks in the normal way.
Further information on Converting Test Scores into Marks is available on our website.
TEIs are asked to note that, following a recommendation from the Common Awards Management Board which arose as part of a wider discussion around enhancing student engagement, TEIs are asked to include an item on student feedback for CAMB on the TEI Management Committee Agenda. This is to prompt TEI Student Representatives to raise any student issues which are not TEI specific, and which might be appropriate for the consideration of the Management Board. These issues will then be passed to the Common Awards Student Representatives to take forward to CAMB where appropriate. The Common Awards Team is working closely with the CAMB Student Representatives on enhancing student engagement, and will share more information on this when available.
An amended TEI Management Committee Reporting Template can be found the Templates and Forms page of our website.
The Common Awards Student Survey closed on 28th May 2021. For the first time, all TEIs participated in the survey. Thank you for your help in promoting the survey to your students.
1,108 students completed the survey – a record breaking number. This represents 45% of registered students on Common Awards programmes.
Initial results for each TEI will be shared within the next few weeks, followed by detailed analysis reports in the coming months.
The University on Monday 7th June confirmed that unfortunately due to continuing Covid-19 uncertainties the difficult decision has been taken to postpone the Congregation ceremonies planned for September 2021 (delayed from April 2021 to account for the postponed January 2021 ceremonies). The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community are always our first priority.
Awards for Common Awards students were still legally conferred on 7th January 2021 ‘in absentia’ and documents dispatched to TEIs.
The University has secured dates at Durham Cathedral to hold Congregation ceremonies between Monday 28 March and Friday 1 April 2022. We are also planning additional dates around the Summer ceremonies which are scheduled to take place at the end of June / early July 2022.
TEIs are reminded that the University does not hold contact details for registered or graduated students. We would ask that you contact recent graduates who were eligible to attend the congregation ceremony in January 2021 to ensure that you are able to communicate with them regarding the registration processes for the rearranged ceremonies, when the time comes. This will ensure that all graduates who are eligible to attend the rescheduled ceremony will receive notification via their TEI of the registration process when it opens.
Students who previously deferred their attendance to the January 2021 ceremonies (from previous ceremonies e.g. July 2020) will have been contacted directly by the University’s Ceremonies team. Please note that this is the only circumstance in which the Ceremonies team holds contact details for students. Students who have been contacted by the Ceremonies team will be required to refer to the information communicated with them directly.
The following email has been circulated to all relevant Durham campus-based graduates and can be used by TEIs to inform their recent graduates of the postponement.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community are always our first priority.
Due to continuing Covid-19 uncertainties we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the Congregation ceremonies planned for September 2021. We have secured dates at Durham Cathedral to hold Congregation ceremonies between Monday 28 March and Friday 1 April 2022. We are also planning additional dates around the Summer ceremonies which are scheduled to take place at the end of June / early July 2022.
We understand that following a difficult year this will come as disappointing news. Please be assured that ceremonies are postponed, not cancelled. You will still have the opportunity to attend a rescheduled ceremony in the Cathedral.
We’re part of a vibrant and diverse global community, and we’re committed to delivering the best possible experience for all our students. We’re mindful that graduands and their guests already need to make travel plans. However, there is still too much uncertainty about what Covid-19 restrictions will be in place in September for us to be confident that we can commit to going ahead. Even in the most optimistic scenario, international travel restrictions will make it difficult for some graduates and their guests to travel to Durham and celebrate together in September.
We’re also conscious of the uncertainty with regard to what restrictions might be in place that may impact on the capacity and format of the ceremonies, as well as other practical requirements, for example quarantining gowns between uses.
These occasions are special to those graduating, their guests and to us. We will be in touch as soon as possible to provide more information on new Congregation dates, ensuring that you have time to plan your travel to Durham safely.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we now have approximately 10,000 graduates awaiting a ceremony. Though we can’t at this time confirm which ceremony you will be invited to attend, we can guarantee that you will be given the opportunity to attend a ceremony. We thank you for your continued patience while we work to confirm arrangements for 2022 in a way that protects our staff, our students and their families, and the wider community.
We look forward to celebrating with you in the not-too-distant future. Until that time, go well and stay safe
Vice-Chancellor and Warden
We would ask that TEIs distribute this information to their recent Common Awards graduates and ask that they confirm their contact details with you for the purposes of registering for Graduation in due course.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
TEIs are reminded that concession requests which require Durham approval must be requested in advance. This is to avoid a situation in which the Chair of the Common Awards Management Board is unable to approve the request, and a student is inadvertently disadvantaged by the process not being followed correctly.
Only when the request has been approved would we advise TEIs inform the student that they can proceed with the actions outlined in the concession.
It is also important that full details of the request are provided on the Concession Request form. Guidance about the appropriate supporting evidence for each type of concession request can be found on our website.
If the approval of a concession results in a change to a students’ record, please ensure that a Change of Registration form is submitted as soon as possible. Change of Registration forms should be completed accurately and in full, and after the completion of the relevant concessions process.
The Annual Conference for Theological Educators will be hosted virtually in 2021 and will take place between 5-7th July. TEIs are advised to make a note of the date, and booking information will follow shortly.
TEIs are reminded to share details of staff appointment processes with the Common Awards Team in advance, so that we have an opportunity to be involved in the recruitment process if we deem it appropriate. This is part of the contractual arrangement the University has with TEIs.
TEIs are reminded that their library staff (or equivalent) can contact Ken Farrimond at the National Ministry Team (email@example.com) if their students have any requests for online books which they would like to see added to the Common Awards Hub. Please could TEIs continue to remind students to put requests to their TEIs.
St Augustine’s College of Theology has very kindly offered to share their template for the recording of Academic Misconduct Panel meetings. The form can be found on the Templates and Forms section of the website.
The full 2020/2021 academic calendar is available here.
Mike, Frances, Eve, Alyson, Emma, Rhianne, Deborah and Adam