Senior Sophister Business, Economics, and Social Studies (BESS) students are raising concerns over how their modules are to be assessed, as the end-of-year revision period is reduced from three weeks to one.
With the introduction of the Trinity Education Project (TEP) this year, changes to College’s academic calendar include the introduction of a revision week and assessment week at the end of Michaelmas Term, while revision time at the end of Hilary Term is set to be reduced from three weeks to one and the assessment period is to lessened from four weeks to one.
A cornerstone of TEP is that modules are to be semesterised, meaning that modules should now be taught and assessed within the same semester. However, BESS students raised concerns with administration that final year business and economics modules, which are worth 15 credits, were heavily weighted on end-of year exams.
Speaking to Trinity News, Business School Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning, Kristian Myrseth, stated: “We’ve asked our fourth year module leaders to consider adjusting their assessment structure in light of the new semester structure. But it is important to emphasise that the decision about the module assessment structure sits squarely with the module leader. That comes with academic freedom.”
“Overall, our fourth year modules have reduced the weighting of the final exam,” continued Myrseth. “We have also instructed module leaders to bear in mind the reduced preparation time when they mark the final exams.”
Certain modules have redistributed the weighting of marks this year. For instance, a module on marketing which last year was graded on 70% examination and 30% group work is now entirely assessed by continuous assessment. However, as the lecturer for this module has also changed, it is unclear whether the decision was taken in response to students’ concerns or at the lecturer’s discretion.
A small proportion of modules place low emphasis on end-of-year exams, such as Applied Economics, for which the end-of-year exam is worth 25% of the overall grade. Other BESS modules, including Political Economy, Managing New Product Development, and International Business in the Global Economy, are to be assessed by an end-of-year exam which is to account for 50% of the student’s overall grade.
Several students raised attention to the issue by reaching out to BESS administration and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Education Officer, Aimee Connolly. Speaking to Trinity News, Connolly outlined that she has made contact with the Heads of Schools for Business and Economics. The Economics department informed Connolly they were “working on the issue”, while she did not receive a reply from the Business department. Connolly then brought the issue to the TEP Project Manager, who said she is making contact with the Business School.
“It is definitely something that is very much still on our radar,” said Connolly. “We don’t want students being done over badly with their assessments this year.”
In email correspondence seen by Trinity News, former TCDSU Education Officer Alice MacPherson said that BESS schools had made assurances to her at a meeting of the Undergraduate Studies Committee that measures would be implemented to minimise any undue burden on students and encourage academic success.
For some students, the confusion around module assessment has significantly impacted the modules they chose for their final year of study. “The main thing is that it’s influenced people’s module choices,” explained fourth year BESS student Emma McCarthy, who is specialising in Economics and Politics. “I’ve chosen the ones that aren’t heavily weighted towards exams for Economics, and based my Politics choices on the few modules that scrapped exams this year in place of essays.”
Senior Sophister BESS student Hazel McMahon, who is studying business and sociology, expressed a similar sentiment. “This whole issue of only one week to study for the exams was a big factor in choosing my modules for this year – which was annoying seeing as many modules have subsequently reduced the percentage dependent on the exam, which I was led to believe wouldn’t happen.”
Another final year BESS student specialising in Economics and Politics said that “the Politics department have been great to be fair to them, almost all the modules have switched to continuous assessment only, but the Economics department is being less cooperative”.
Multiple students noted that any correspondence from staff on the matter took place on an individual basis, with no department-wide email being sent to address the issue.