The Covid-19 pandemic changed exams significantly. Now a Palatinate investigation can show that the pandemic has had a significant effect on the numbers of students who have had to take resits.
A Freedom of Information request by Palatinate has revealed discrepancies between the number of students taking resits in different modules and at different levels of study. The department with the highest proportion of students taking resits is the Centre for Academic Development, with 41.8% of undergraduate students.
There are significant discrepancies between undergraduate and postgraduate levels. On average, 7% of undergraduate students in the Economics and Finance department have had to take at least one resit in a given year, compared to 28% for postgraduate taught students.
In the School of Government and International Affairs, the figures are 3% and 14.8% respectively. Discounting 2019-20 as an outlier, accounting had the second-highest proportion at undergraduate level, with 15.5% of students having to take resits. 2% of students did so in 2019-20.
This trend is reflected in other subjects. For the 4 years from 2015-16 to 2018-19, an average of 12% of sports science undergraduate students had to take resits.
In the academic year 2019-20, when exam format across all subjects was first changed due to the pandemic, that number fell to 2%. This significant decline is reflected in some other subjects, including Sociology, Computer Science, and Economics and Finance.
For Natural Sciences undergraduate students, the average in this period is 9.5%; in 2019-20, it fell to 2%. The departments with the lowest percentage of students taking resits at undergraduate level are Modern Languages, History, and English. The number of students taking resits in these subjects, frequently ranked as Durham’s most prominent courses, never exceeded 1% from 2015-16 to 2019-20.
Close behind them is Geography, which was 2% or below for all of this period. The five year average cannot be calculated because specific values below 1% are not given. The data provided by the University covers the period from 2015-16 to 2019-20, with figures from the most recent exam period unavailable.
Image: Durham University