York Law School

Frequently Asked Questions


Coronavirus and York Law School

We understand that this is a stressful time for everyone - the situation is rapidly evolving and the pandemic reaches into all aspects of your time here at YLS.

Many of you will understandably have questions you want to ask. In order to pull some of these answers together in one place, this mini-site provides a series of Frequently Asked Questions and the answers. These are divided into three sections: general queries, teaching and learning, and examinations and assessments.

General queries

Where can I find out more information about matters that affect all students at York?

The best source of general information is the central University's Coronavirus information page. This is getting updated regularly as matters develop. We also recommend that you keep up to date with resources being made available via the library, such as the Studying online - Skills Guide. Other services include the Student Hub and your College wellbeing team.

I have a Student Support Plan. Does this need to be updated for the new styles of assessment?

We will do as much as we reasonably can to support students who have Student Support Plans (SSPs) in this new environment. We recognise that SSP advice will have been provided without Covid-19 in view. Please contact the Disability and Welfare Officer relevant to your programme (Louise Prendergast for LLB or Melanie Race for LLM), with any questions you have about your specific needs.

I am feeling stressed and unwell and I'm worried that I will not be able to complete my assessments. What should I do?

We are sorry to hear this. Please reach out for support from your friends and family, your student colleagues, your personal advisor, our Disability and Welfare Officers and/or University services contactable via the student wellbeing webpages. There are also specific resources available via dedicated mental health charities, including Student Minds. Rest assured that the COVID-19 pandemic is, by definition, exceptional. In the light of this, the University has taken the extraordinary decision to allow self-certification of impact for exceptional circumstances applications. There is also the option to take a Leave of Absence. If you want to consider this, please contact your personal advisor and/or the Disability and Welfare Officer relevant to your programme (Louise Prendergast for LLB or Melanie Race for LLM).

What is an Exceptional Circumstances application and what is different about it this year?

As explained on the Exceptional Circumstances page, the University has always recognised that events can happen in your life that are unforeseeable and exceptional (i.e. serious and unusual) and allowed for this to be taken into account by providing the opportunity to defer an assessment or take it again. In most cases this has required the submission of independent evidence, such as a letter from a doctor. The University recognises thet the current circumstances are exceptional and it has taken the extraordinary decision to allow self-certification of impact. It is likely that most applications for an extension will lead to an extra week or, sometimes, two weeks for any particular assessment. Please do remember that we have to keep the assessment process as a whole fair so have to set some limits on extension requests so that other students are not unfairly disadvantaged. While you do not need to prove the extent of your disadvantage due to home sharing, internet challenges, etc, please do try to explain to us in your application what the impact is so that we can make a realistic appraisal. Please do note that self isolation does not necessarily mean that an extension is necessary - you may still be able to work - so if there is an issue of self-isolation within your household, please do try to explain the impact on you so that we can make a fair decision about impact on your ability to complete assessments.

I am currently based outside the UK and my internet connection is weak. What can I do?

This is a difficult question to answer without knowing the extent of the problem. We suggest you continue to work on your assessments as much as you can but if this is proving to be impossible you may need to consider an Exceptional Circumstances application or a Leave of Absence. Please contact your personal advisor to talk over your options if you find yourself in this situation.

I am an international student and am living in a different time zone than most of my friends. How can I communicate with them?

YLS - and the wider University - has a culture of welcoming lots of international students and we were sorry to see so many people have to leave ahead of schedule without the ability to say goodbye properly. We are all now learning how to utilise digital tools to help us to stay connected and we recommend that you do this too. We suggest that you spend some time familiarising yourself with some of the communication resources that are supported by the University - such as Google hangouts. You can then arrange mutually convenient timeslots to meet up online to help you to stay connected with your friends.

I'm an undergraduate and have contacted my personal advisor for advice but they have not responded. What should I do?

All staff at YLS are dealing with all sorts of situations and circumstances including childcare, parental care responsibilities, personal health challenges, etc so if your advisor cannot reply to your concerns quickly, please do try to understand the constraints under which he or she might be operating. If you do want to get advice quickly and the answer is not on this page, please remember that Louise Prendergast and Melanie Race are our Disability and Welfare Officers and that programme leaders are also on hand to respond to student concerns. You can also refer to the student wellbeing webpages.

Will the fact that I am not now returning to York in term 3 have an impact on my visa status?

The University will not be curtailing sponsorship for any Tier 4 student not returning to the UK for the summer term. You don’t need to request an early departure or a change in study location. There is more information about this on the Coronavirus student page and you can email tier4@york.ac.uk for advice.

I'm really annoyed with the University and YLS and want to complain. What can I do?

We are sorry to hear this. Much of the University's decision making around adapting to the coronavirus pandemic has been made in short time frames with the involvement of many parties, including YUSU and GTA student reps. At YLS we have tried to respond to student concerns promptly but we know that this has not always been as quickly as you may have liked. Please feel free to contact your personal advisor to discuss this and/or Louise Prendergast or Melanie Race (our Disability and Welfare Officers) or your programme leader. As a last resort you can also make a complaint.

Teaching and Learning

The library is now closed. How am I meant to undertake research properly?

The closure of the library affects all students equally and the library staff have been working hard to put in place extra information about how you can access resources. Please have a look at their FAQs and also the Law Subject Guide. If you are short of materials or, particularly discover something that seems only to be in hard copy book form, do contact the lib-law@york.ac.uk address to see if alternative versions can be accessed. Copies of a book in the library cannot be posted out for a variety of reasons but it may be possible to persuade publishers to create e-copies of parts of books (and our understanding is that they are increasingly willing to do so in the current circumstances) so do get in touch with lib-law@york.ac.uk to see what can be provided. Do also remember that if you use Yorsearch, it will give you access to an array of journal articles and ebooks of which you may not have been aware. The e-resources extend significantly beyond Westlaw, Law Trove and Lexis and we would like you to be exploring in those areas.

I have sent some questions to my LLB dissertation supervisor and they have not responded. What should I do?

We have responded to student representations and reinstated the third term group supervision meeting to provide extra support. This will be done remotely and will be coordinated by your supervisors. This new arrangement means that you will have had more direct supervision time than any previous YLS cohort. You can also contact your supervisors for guidance by email. However, please keep in mind that, like yourselves, your supervisors and all YLS staff are facing their own difficult circumstances - both at work and at home - and there may be delays in responses etc. In some cases, we may have to provide you with an interim supervisor if a member of staff is unable to work but we are seeking to keep this to a minimum. Please contact Joe if you feel you are not being treated equitably with other students in your cohort in this regard.

Examinations and assessments

I'm a first year LLB student. Why have all my assessments been cancelled and what should I be doing now?

A decision was made by the University Executive Board that all assessments for undergraduate first year students have been cancelled for the remainder of the academic year. At YLS we are going to keep your Foundations in Law 2 assessments as formative opportunities. This means you have the chance to submit some practice assessments and get feedback on them so that you know where you can improve for next year. These are voluntary activities but very strongly recommended. They are:

  • The Foundations in Law 2 Coursework task (Non-anonymous submission point in the Year 1 Foundations in Law > Assessment and Reassessment VLE site; deadline 22nd April). This can also be submitted by the 31st August deadline if you are not able to meet the 22nd April deadline.

  • The Foundations in Law 2 ‘Exams’ (Non-anonymous submission points in the Year 1 Foundations in Law > Assessment and Reassessment VLE site; deadline 31st August)

  • You may also, if you like, submit one of the other three assessments for formative purposes (Portfolio, ILS, Concepts) by 31st August:

    • Portfolio and Reflections - submit portfolio using Google template sent to you

    • ILS or Concepts - submit non-anonymously on the relevant VLE site

We are offering to provide feedback on the FL2 assessments because the subject matter underpins your three foundation modules next year; and is at the core of the requirements of qualifying law degrees for professional qualification. In addition, the subject matter is important as a foundation for ALS, and the majority of Y2 and Y3 options. We are offering to provide feedback on one of the other three assessments as a way to help you to develop your writing skills.

I'm a first year LLB student. Why are Senior Status students allowed to continue to undertake assessments but not me?

Students on the 'traditional route' 3 year LLB do not obtain academic credit towards the final degree classification for the first year of the programme. All of the assessments that contribute towards the 'qualifying law degree' take place in year 2 and year 3. This is not the case for the LLB Senior Status. Because all students on this programme are already graduates the programme is shorter (two years) and all their assessments contribute to their final degree classification. This is why assessments are necessary for first year Senior Status students.

I'm a second year LLB student. Why have the instructions about exams changed?

A decision was made by the Executive Board of the University that all exams had to be replaced with an alternative format to avoid the need for students to be present on campus. We originally modified this to a format as close as possible to the original design. Following student representations and further guidance from the University Executive Board we made a modification to this plan to allow students a longer period to undertake this piece of work. We apologies for the uncertainty around this. For updated information about assessment dates, please refer to the UG Year 2 Foundations in Law site on the VLE.

I'm a final year LLB student and I'm feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I still have to do for my dissertation. What can I do?

We are sorry to hear this. Please continue to refer to the dissertation handbook, plenary recordings and other resources to help you to focus on this task. You can also seek our support from your dissertation supervisor, personal advisor or Joe, the dissertation module leader. Remember too that there are additional resources to help you to manage stress via the student wellbeing pages. Please also be reassured that we shall be taking into account the disruption caused by current circumstances when marking (see "Will my assessments be marked any differently...." below).

Will my assessments be marked any differently to how they would have been marked in a typical year?

All of our assessments are marked by experienced marking teams who use the module learning outcomes, the assessment task and the marking criteria to reach a mark. All marks are then moderated by the team to ensure consistency. This year markers have been instructed to recognise that, due to current circumstances, students may have difficulty in demonstrating fully each of the assessment criteria to the extent that they would have done so otherwise, and to take account of this when marking.The relative weightings of the different elements of the marking criteria will be agreed upon by the marking teams accordingly. For some assessments, including the LLB dissertation, students will be able to attach a Note on Circumstances that will be taken into account by the markers. As a more general point, we need to ensure our assessments are fair for students this year but we also need our standards to be fair when compared with students in past and future cohorts.

What is the August reassessment period?

There have always been some students whose individual circumstances have meant that they have not been able to complete their assessments in term 3 or whose work was not of an appropriately high standard to warrant a pass mark. In August an extra collection of assessments are made available for students to either to resit or sit for the first time to enable them to progress to the next year of study or graduate. This year we anticipate that a greater number of students than usual will need to take assessments for the first time during the August reassesssment period. This will include students who have Exceptional Circumstances and are not able to submit their work by the 'extension cut-off' date of Friday 29th May 2020: they will have the opportunity to submit their assessments in August.

What is the 'safety net'?

The University has created a safety net policy that provides a minimum grade for your year average based on modules due to be submitted in week 10 of term 2. We have now worked out how it applies to you. Here is a link to our explanatory document. We have also created some worked examples.

The overall aim of the safety net is to give you the reassurance of a minimum grade for this year (assuming you pass or get pass compensation for all your modules) and that this minimum grade is designed to reflect the academic ability you have shown so far. The key thing to note is that the safety net will apply differently to each of you depending on your particular situation (modules taken, coursework extensions, etc). This is why looking closely at the guidance will help you.

How do I submit my assessments?

There will be information on the relevant module site about how to submit assessments, including the relevant dates. For general guidance please also see the University's guidance on submitting assignments on the Yorkshare VLE.

What is the final cut off date for LLB assessment submissions (and what does this mean for me)?

The final date that we can accept delayed submissions in time for them to be marked and processed ahead of the Term 3 Exam Boards is Friday 29th May at 12pm.

Delayed submissions include (a) delays accepted due to Exceptional Circumstances and/or (b) delays accepted due to Student Support Plan extensions.

For year 2 assessments submitted before this date, marks will be released on Friday 26th June

For year 3 assessments submitted before this date, marks will be released on Friday 10th July

When will my LLB marks be released?

For year 2 assessments submitted by the final cut off date, marks will be released on Friday 26th June

For year 3 assessments submitted by the final cut off date, marks will be released on Friday 10th July

I have a Student Support Plan extension beyond the final cut off date for LLB assessment submissions. What does this mean for me?

If your Student Support Plan extension allows you to submit your work after Friday 29th May at 12pm, we cannot guarantee that your work will be marked and processed ahead of the Term 3 Exam Boards. You will be contacted by Louise Prendergast (our Disability and Welfare Officer) with further information if this applies to you.

I have had an Exceptional Circumstances application accepted that allows for my LLB assessments to be submitted beyond the final cut off date. What does this mean for me?

If you have been told that you can submit your work after Friday 29th May at 12pm due to Exceptional Circumstances, we cannot guarantee that your work will be marked and processed ahead of the Term 3 Exam Boards. You will be contacted by the Exceptional Circumstances Committee with further information if this applies to you.

Not got an answer to your question?

If the answer to your question isn't above or in the main University coronavirus pages, if you are an undergraduate, your best first port-of-call is the Discussion Forum on the "UG 2019/20 LLB Programme Site". If you are a postgraduate, please contact your personal advisor.