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3.6 Examination bar - a guide to the procedure for BA/BSc/LLB and General Course students

The regulations state that:

The School may at its discretion exclude from an examination a candidate who has not satisfactorily attended the course in that year of study or who has not completed the work required in that course. Regulations for First Degrees [21]

Also, the Code of Good Practice for Undergraduate Programmes [3.6-3.8] states that:

Attendance at classes is compulsory and is recorded on LSE for You. Any student who is absent on two consecutive occasions or is regularly absent without good reason will be automatically reported to their academic adviser. [3.5] Students must submit all required course work on time, whether it is summative course work (ie work that counts towards the final mark) or formative course work (that does not count towards the final mark). In submitting course work, students must abide with the School's policy on plagiarism as set out in the School's Assessment Offences Regulations: Plagiarism [3.] Permission to sit an examination may be withdrawn from students who regularly miss classes and/or do not provide required course work. [3.8]'

While General Course students fall under the rubric of these regulations, the nature of their study programme (1 year at LSE), their assessment procedures (a class grade for their work over the course of the year plus the mark for their end of year exams) and the serious implications that barring could have on their being able to complete their year of study at LSE and their degree at their home university, means that the imposition of an examination bar should only take place in consultation with the Associate Dean for the General Course.

There is no formal barring process for taught graduate students, unlike undergraduates. However, Regulation 16 of the Regulation for Taught Masters Degree concerning Entry to Examinations states: “no candidate shall be eligible to sit an examination unless he/she has satisfactorily attended the course concerned in the year of study concerned and has completed the work required.” It is worth noting however that this regulation is not widely used given the serious implications for a student not being able to complete their degree.

 

The benefits of barring

The imposition (or threat) of an examination bar should be seen as a means to strengthen tutorial and pastoral support, rather than as a punitive mechanism.

Barring has been shown to be very useful in identifying students who are struggling for academic and/or other reasons – thereby initiating a response within the department or directing the student to support services elsewhere within the School – or those students in need of a firm reminder to pay more serious attention to their studies.

Imposing (or threatening) a provisional examination bar is useful in triggering meetings between the student and academic adviser (AA) and/or departmental tutor (DT). Such action allows AAs/DTs to identify more easily those students whose attendance and/ or course work submission is poor across a number of courses and those who need help dealing with non-academic issues affecting their academic work.

Importance of early and consistent intervention

By mid/late Michaelmas Term there are typically a number of 'problematic' students (or students with problems) who come to the attention of AAs/DTs where a provisional examination bar may be imposed or threatened. In these cases, it is important to alert students as early as possible – and to impose a provisional bar where appropriate – since students must be given an opportunity to complete work/improve their attendance in order to have the bar lifted. In previous years, difficulties have arisen when bars have been imposed without attached conditions and deadlines (and so the student does not know what action they have to take by when to get the bar lifted) or when bars have been imposed very late in the session with no prior warning. Tutors/class teachers are urged to check class reports regularly. Prompt response is required to automatic warnings of non-attendance; students, AAs and/or DTs should be alerted of any potential problems as early as possible in the session.

Problems have also arisen in the past due to the inconsistent use of provisional barring. While some AAs/DTs use the barring procedure very effectively to get students to engage with their studies, others do not. This means that many students with a low level of engagement with their studies do not have the opportunity to benefit from the stimulus of provisional barring. It also creates inequities and makes the Dean's job more difficult when dealing with those students whose examination bars are upheld.

Consistent and early intervention not only also has the advantage of enabling preventative and/or remedial action to be taken, but also means that the resources expended are less than those required to deal with students identified late in the session.

Only a small number of students provisionally barred in the Michaelmas or Lent terms remain barred in the Summer Term, indicating that, in most cases, barring has a positive effect in getting students to take their class attendance and/or course work submission more seriously. Courses in which a student is barred are coloured on LSE For You: orange for a provisional bar and red for an enforced bar. This is to encourage class teachers and academic advisers to pay special attention to completing and monitoring these student records.

LSE100

Attendance at LSE100 classes for first year students in Lent Term and second year students in Michaelmas Term is compulsory. Non-attendance will be alerted to AAs/DTs as for other classes and should be followed up with students, but performance on LSE100 does not affect any progression or barring decisions for students' degrees. As the interim and final marks for LSE100 are both partly based on in-class assessed activities and there is an emphasis on group work in the second half of LSE100, AAs are asked to respond promptly to any attendance issues that arise.

Procedure for imposing a provisional examination bar in one or more examinations

Those who can impose bars:

  • The student's academic adviser (AA) – please seek agreement from DT before taking action;
  • The departmental tutor (DT);
  • The Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Although neither course leaders nor class teachers can impose a bar, they may request that a student's AA imposes a bar.

Those who can lift bars:

  • The Dean can lift any bar;
  • The DT can lift any bar except one imposed by the Dean;
  • The DT can lift a bar imposed by the AA.

When a bar should be considered

Using LSE for You, AAs should identify those students whose class registers show one or more of the following:

  • regular and/or repeated absences (shown as A on class registers);
  • regular and/or repeated absences with reason (shown as R on class registers);
  • failure to submit course work;
  • adverse comments from class teachers.

The DT Forum (Summer Term 2008) agreed that, for any course, missing 50 per cent or more classes or failing to submit 50 per cent or more required course work should act as a trigger for considering a provisional bar. However, AAs are free to impose more stringent criteria if they consider such action appropriate. Equally, a student's personal circumstances may be such that imposing a provisional examination bar may be deemed unhelpful.

Mechanisms for imposing a provisional examination bar in one or more courses

Summary of the stages of barring

In the Michaelmas Term – at the very latest by the end of Week 7 of the Michaelmas Term – any students who are not engaging with their studies (ie not attending and/or failing to submit course work) should have been warned about their need to improve and guidance given about how this could be achieved.

At this stage an email (sse link to Template Email 1 in the online version of this handbook at lse.ac.uk/tlc/publications) should be sent by the DT/AA to the student outlining their concerns and the sources of help/advice available to the student.

When initial communications with the student have not resolved the issue, you can impose a provisional exam bar on one or more of the student's courses.

Stage 1: Imposing a provisional examination bar

  • Notify the student that you are imposing a bar, and the conditions/deadlines required to lift the bar by emailing them (see link to Template Email 2 in the online version of this handbook at lse.ac.uk/publications) and attach the Notice of provisional exam bar form (there is a Send Email button on the form to generate a blank email to the Dean and Registry). You will need to retain a copy of each barred student's form, as it may need to be updated. Please copy the email to BOTH registry@lse.ac.uk and ug.dean@lse.ac.uk, and, in the case of General Course students, additionally to gc.dean@lse.ac.uk.  
  • On receipt of this form, the Registry team will enter a code on the Student Record System database which will result in provisionally barred courses being highlighted in orange on LSE for You class registers.

Stage 2: Applying further conditions to a provisional bar

  • If the initial conditions have not been met, you may wish to impose further conditions on the student before you will decide to lift or enforce the bar. Please complete the Stage 2 section of the Notice of provisional exam bar form and again notify the student of the conditions required to lift the bar by emailing them and attaching a copy of this form. Please copy the email to both registry@lse.ac.uk and ug.dean@lse.ac.uk, and, in the case of General Course students, additionally to gc.dean@lse.ac.uk

Stage 3: Requesting a provisional examination bar be lifted or enforced

  • If the conditions have been met, then the DT should notify the student that they have met the conditions and that the provisional bar will be lifted. Please email both registry@lse.ac.uk and ug.dean@lse.ac.uk, and, in the case of General Course students, gc.dean@lse.ac.uk, advising that the bar is to be lifted. In the case of a provisional bar imposed on multiple courses, please be sure to specify the outcome of each individual course.
  • If the conditions have not been met by the deadline, the DT should notify the student of the reasons for the provisional bar being enforced. Please email both ssc.ecambarring@lse.ac.uk and ug.dean@lse.ac.uk, and, in the case of General Course students, gc.dean@lse.ac.uk, advising that the bar is to be enforced. The Dean's Office will arrange an appointment for the student to meet the Dean of Undergraduate Studies who will then make a decision about future action.

If you have a student who would benefit from meeting with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, please notify Rosie Jones: r.r.jones@lse.ac.uk|

Options available to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies

For those students who either remain provisionally barred or have a bar enforced, the Dean decides, on the basis of available evidence, whether to:

  1. lift the bar if procedures have not been followed correctly such that the bar is unfair to the student;
  2. see the student immediately;
  3. refer the student back to the DT (if they have not already seen them);
  4. make further enquiries as appropriate (eg, if the student appears to have gone AWOL, Registry will write to them – see AWOL procedure); or 
  5. see the student only after (iii) and/or (iv) have been implemented.

Once the Dean sees (or decides not to see) a student, the AA and /or DT involved is informed, asking them for the imposition of further conditions if necessary. Normally, the Dean will see any students who are provisionally barred by the end of Week 3 of the Summer Term.

The Dean has the power to release a student from the bar up to the day before an examination is scheduled to be taken. Being released from the bar means that the student has to either sit the examination or choose to absent him/herself from the examination. In either case, this would count as an 'attempt' at the examination.

It is rare that a student is completely barred from their examinations but, in cases where the Dean decides the bar should remain in place, the student loses an 'attempt' for those papers for which the bar is enforced. Students who have a bar enforced in any course will be required to apply to the Repeat Teaching Panel (RTP) for repeat teaching, if they wish to continue their studies at LSE. The barred students are then referred to RTP for consideration at their Summer meeting.

Students who are barred in only one paper and who pass their remaining papers can progress, but only if an application for repeat teaching in the barred course is approved by RTP. Students who are barred in only one paper but who fail one or more additional papers cannot progress.

From the 2009/10 session, an upheld bar will count as an attempt and the student will be deemed to have failed in those papers to which the bar applies. Students who consider they have mitigating circumstances which have prevented them from meeting the conditions for lifting the bar or which have affected their ability to make contact with their department and/or the Dean of Undergraduate Studies to discuss their situation, may apply for exceptional permission for an enforced bar not to be considered an attempt. Mitigation should be submitted by students in the normal way and will be considered by the Chair of the School Board of Examiners, in conjunction with information supplied by the department and/or Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Action timeline

In order for the barring procedure to be successful, it is essential that AAs/DTs take an active role in monitoring that the conditions and deadlines set as part of the provisional bar are being met by the student.

Michaelmas Term - by the end of Week 7:
As soon as class attendance and/or course work submission is identified as problematic, AAs/DTs should (i) see students to discuss their lack of engagement and identify support mechanisms, (ii) send a letter/email to underperforming students outlining their concerns and the sources of help/advice available.

Michaelmas Term - by the end of Week 10:
AAs/DTs should have imposed provisional bar exams, notified students and submitted the appropriate forms to Registry and the Dean. Under certain circumstances, requests for provisional bars may be made in the Lent Term, normally up until the end of Week 3.

Lent Term: by the end of week 10:
AAs/DTs should monitor condition deadlines and take appropriate action according to stages 2 and 3 above and notify the students, Registry and the Dean. In particular for those students who have failed to comply with conditions it is often useful to set further conditions to be completed by the beginning of the Summer Term.

Summer Term - by the end of Week 1:
AAs/DTs should lift or enforce provisional examination bars according to stage 3 above, notifying the students, Registry and the Dean.

Summer Term - Weeks 2 and 3:
Dean sees students for whom a bar has been enforced or not yet lifted.

 

There is no formal barring process for taught graduate students, unlike undergraduates. However, Regulation 15 of the Regulation for Taught Masters Degree concerning Entry to Examinations states: “no candidate shall be eligible to sit an examination unless he/she has satisfactorily attended the course concerned in the year of study concerned and has completed the work required.” It is worth noting however that this regulation is not widely used given the serious implications for a student not being able to complete their degree. 

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