Leeds History students given wrong exam paper

The School of History has come under fire after students sitting the examination for ‘Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union’, on Saturday 16th January, were left dumbfounded at being handed the incorrect paper.

The module had been clearly laid out both by the tutor, James Harris, and the Module Handbook, to show that the essays would focus on the rise of the Soviet Union and the exam would focus on the fall of the Soviet Union. It was, therefore, clear there had been a mistake, as a number of the questions presented were identical to the essay questions, which is not allowed due to University policy.

Students were immediately incensed at the fact that the module tutor had not been present to review the paper and so the error, which could have been flagged before the examination began, went unnoticed, and when they attempted to contact the School of History, they couldn’t, as the department is closed on weekends.

There was a feeling of confusion as to how something of this scale could occur and so the student body, directed by Second Year Student Representative, Jack Bozson, swiftly brought the error to the attention of both the History Department and the Examinations Officer as soon as the Department reopened.

Mollie Osborn, a second year History student and participant of the module, labelled the mistake ‘completely unprofessional’ and a ‘disgrace’ and Ryan Kirkman, likewise, although accepting that ‘mistakes can happen’, found frustration in ‘how avoidable the whole thing was’ and directly questioned the School’s availability stating that ‘if the department offices aren’t going to be open on weekends […] perhaps we shouldn’t have weekend exams’.

Many students called for a reweighting of marks or a mark given based on their module average but the School has since stressed its inability to implement such a system and after long deliberation, and several exchanges, it has been decided that the correct examination will be sat on Wednesday 27th January, three days into the new term. Although this is undoubtedly the fairest outcome, there is understandable displeasure from those having to re-sit the exam at the prospect of having another week of revision.

The University has responded to the issue, saying: “We realise that this mistake has caused inconvenience and upset, and have apologised to all students involved. We would like to thank them for their understanding and patience. Any students who have concerns about the issue should contact Esther Burton in the School of History in person or by email at e.c.burton@leeds.ac.uk
“The University is urgently investigating how the mistake happened so that we can put safeguards in place to avoid similar incidents in future.”

“The incorrect exam paper on the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union was used on 16 January but, unfortunately, the error was not realised until after candidates had completed the exam. In order to maintain the high quality and rigour of our assessment process, it was decided that the students involved should re-sit the examination and take a revised paper. This exam has been rescheduled for next Wednesday.”


Jonny Chard

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