Key Information for Students

What is the new structure of the academic year, and when did changes happen?

The major changes have included the removal of the examination period at the end of Semester 1, the introduction of a progressive continuous assessment model across both semesters and the introduction of a series of innovative Development Weeks.

There will be no end of semester exams in January 2018 (unless required by an external regulator) and second semester teaching for undergraduates will begin on Monday 8 January 2018. Second semester teaching for undergraduates will finish on Friday 20 April 2018. Any end of Semester 2 examinations for undergraduates will take place in the period from Monday 23 April to Saturday 12 May 2018.

For postgraduate (taught) students, semester one will begin on Monday 25 September 2017 and finish on Friday 26 January 2018. There will be no end of semester exams in semester one. Semester two will begin on Monday 29 January 2018 and finish on Friday 1 June 2018. Formal examinations, if required, will be scheduled within the second semester. Dissertations for Master’s degrees will be submitted by Friday 14 September 2018.

Semester dates are available in full on the Academic Affairs webpage. 

For undergraduate students, the Semester 2 assessment period will be followed by Student Development Weeks, where you will be able to choose from a rich menu of options, including (for example) cross-disciplinary learning, problem-solving skills in the real world, critical analysis, commercial acumen, numeracy for business, leadership, language skills, workplace tasters, skills development, employability enrichment, community engagement, and entrepreneurship and innovation.  Many of these activities have been designed and will be delivered in conjunction with employers and are aimed to enable Queen’s graduates to realise their potential within the workplace.

* Students should note that a number of clinical and professional programmes currently use an alternative timetable, and this alternative timetable will continue.

What are the benefits to students?

In the new academic year structure, we expect that the learning experience and employability of our students will be enhanced.

On some programmes, there may have previously been a tendency to over-assess learning outcomes.  In the new academic year structure, there has been, on a range of programmes, a rationalisation of the number and types of assessments used. This has in most cases involved a move away from formal examinations where these have been used as the primary mode of assessment. The removal of examinations as the primary mode of assessment for most modules enables students to display their knowledge and application of knowledge in an inclusive manner.  Finally, the new academic year structure has removed the stressful examination period in January with the aim of enhancing student wellbeing.  

To ensure that students can demonstrate a wide range of skills and abilities, both to examiners and to future employers, academic staff have reviewed all degree programmes to ensure that there is a sufficient diversity of assessment tasks.

Undertaking a range of different forms of assessment allows you to demonstrate a variety of skills, and enables a full assessment of your knowledge, evaluation and understanding of your subject(s) of study.

Due to the associated change in the academic calendar, graduating undergraduate students will complete Semester 2 exams earlier than was previously the case, and non-final year undergraduate students will be able to choose during the Development Weeks from a range of skills and CV-enhancing opportunities before leaving Queen’s for the summer break. 

The Development Week activities will enhance your employability skills. Just as importantly, though, they will provide you with several further opportunities: to gain skills beyond those embedded within your programme; to meet people from across the University; and to realise ideas in a supportive environment. 

The Development Week activities will, where possible, be student-led and will aim to encourage openness, collaboration, creativity, experimentation, and experiential learning. 

What has happened to exams?

Formal, closed-book and centrally scheduled examinations still take place, where this is appropriate for the discipline. Many courses, however, have seen a reduction in this type of assessment, and examinations now only occur at the end of Semester 2, unless professional bodies have requirements that examinations take place at other points in the programme.

Where can I get further information?

Further information regarding the changes to the academic year structure can be obtained from your Staff Student Consultative Committee Representative and directly from the Director of Education at your school.