Examination scripts and other assessed work:

annotation, retention and disposal

1.In February 2005 the committee for Undergraduate Studies received a report from the Academic Registrar about the Freedom of Information Act and student access to examination scripts. As a result it was agreed that the university was obliged under the Act to provide access to examination scripts on request once the results have been agreed by the Committee of Senate. It was also agreed that a University Policy regarding script retention was required. The current regulations for Undergraduate and Postgraduate state:

1.1Undergraduate Examination Regulations E.1.5

Disposal of examination scripts (under review)

The scripts of all candidates in Part I examinations who are deemed to have qualified to proceed to Part II shall be destroyed by departments as soon as possible after the Committee of the Senate has finally determined their results.

The scripts of all other candidates in Part I examinations shall be kept until their future has been determined, whether by deferred admission to Part II or by permanent exclusion or withdrawal from the University. The scripts of candidates who have been permanently excluded from the University because of academic failure at the end of Part I shall be kept however for at least one year after the date of their exclusion.

The scripts of all candidates in Part II examinations shall be kept for one year after the examination.

Disposal of all examination scripts shall be in accordance with the University’s arrangements for the disposal of confidential waste.

1.2Regulations for Higher Degrees, Part I General Regulations and Procedures 11.5

Retention of work

Departments should (i) retain examination scripts for one year, and (ii) either retain written coursework counting towards the final assessment for one year, or make clear to students their responsibility to do so.

2.There are two somewhat separate issues for the university to consider:

(a)how the examination scripts and other assessed work not handed back to the student are annotated by the various parties that are involved in summatively marking them;

(b)what is the most appropriate treatment of the material once the final result of the assessment has been made known to the candidate.

The procedures put in place must apply equally to all students registered with the university, irrespective of level, or the extent to which they are full-time or part-time.

3.All academic staff and examiners should be made aware that any comments or other annotations placed on an examination script or other unreturned assessed work is discoverable by the candidate, and therefore that the same standard of care should be taken as with material that will be returned forthwith to students. In addition, specific marking criteria, model answers and any sheets of notes relating to the material should be retained and stored.

4.The guidance available on retention and disposal suggests that all material should be retained for six years, but this period is not mandatory. There is an increasing likelihood as the months pass that access to the material will not be required, particularly if the university sets an agreed limit of time within which complaints and appeals must be lodged. There is a balance to be struck between the risk of the material not being accessible when required and the logistics and expense of retaining bulky material for extended periods. The institution will therefore benefit, internally and externally, if procedures are officially approved and promulgated.


(a)That all examination scripts, and other assessed work not returned by departments to the originating student, should be retained by the department(s) in which the student is registered for a period of three years (36 months) after the mark has been confirmed.

(b)Scripts and other assessed material should be held securely and clearly labelled, and disposal should be in accordance with the university’s procedures for the disposal of confidential waste.

(c)In the case of an appeal or complaint by the candidate, any examination scripts or other assessed work relevant to the case should be sent to the Student Registry to be held on an indefinite basis with the student’s central file.

Ian Denny

Claire Moore

December 2005