17. Anonymity

17.1   ‘Anonymity’ is defined as the use of an identifier, which cannot be related to a student’s name without reference to a central register or other mechanism, in the assessment process. An identifier is adopted in order to: avoid unconscious and conscious bias in marking, respect student confidentiality, and ensure fairness when progression and award decisions are made; however, it does not necessarily mean that it is impossible for a member of staff to uncover the identity of a particular student.

17.2   Members of staff must respect anonymity where it is employed and not identify, or seek to identify, students unless it is a requirement of their role or there is a clear benefit to the student in doing so e.g. the provision of specific feedback to the student, the correct treatment of exceptional circumstances.

17.3   Where students might be identifiable e.g. because they are part of a very small cohort or they have an unusual pattern of study, anonymity must be respected as for any other student.

17.4   Schools are responsible for informing students of how they should identify their work.  

17.5   It is the responsibility of students to employ the anonymity mechanisms provided to them.

17.6   Where any cases for non-anonymity deviate from those described in section 16.7, decisions with respect to the preservation of anonymity should be taken by the chair of the relevant Faculty examination board.

The marking of credit-bearing ‘summative’ assessment of learning

17.7   Summative assessment should be anonymous when it is marked where that is possible and practicable, and consistent with the assessment and its objectives. The table below sets out where anonymity may or may not be expected at the first marker and moderation stages, by assessment type.

Assessments where anonymity is expected at both the first marking and moderation stages: 

  • Exams  
  • Timed Assessments  
  • Summative coursework not included below 

Assessments where anonymity may not be expected at the first marker stage: 

  • All formative coursework (where a mark does not contribute to the unit mark and passing is not required for credit)  
  • Summative assessment where formative feedback is provided on an early draft as part of the design of the assessment
  • Final year and PGT projects / dissertations  
  • Presentations  
  • Group work (especially where ‘equity-share’/student contribution marking is a component)  
  • Bespoke coursework – where all students formally agree the specifics of their coursework with a tutor, such that they are necessarily identifiable.  
  • Practical in-person assessment e.g. in labs, fieldwork tasks, medical practicals, oral exams   
  • Summative assessment that accounts for a small part of the unit mark and where the provision of individualised feedback for learning is an inherent part of the design of the assessment

17.8   Anonymity is a general expectation when the marking of student work is moderated

17.9   The marks awarded for summative assessments should be released individually to students.  

17.10   Specific moderation techniques must be used for non-anonymous summative assessments e.g. multiple markers.  

The marking of non-credit-bearing `formative’ assessment for learning

17.11   When designing formative assessment, priority should be given to the educational benefits of the assessment rather than anonymity, for example it should not interfere with the provision of feedback to students.

17.12   While anonymity is not required for formative assessment, it may still be preserved where it is consistent with the assessment and its objectives.

Boards of examiners

17.13   When students are being considered for exceptional circumstances, anonymity must be preserved insofar as is practicable when marks are considered at boards of examiners.

17.14   Academic information with respect to exceptional circumstances (e.g. which assessments have been affected, the period of time affected by the circumstances, nature of the effect of the circumstances upon study) may be introduced in examination boards where that would be to a student’s advantage.

17.15   In exceptional cases, information about exceptional circumstances themselves may only be introduced in the Faculty Examination Board and only when all the following conditions are fulfilled:  it is to the student’s advantage; it is essential for a fair decision to be arrived at; permission is given by the chair of the Faculty Examination Board. Chairs of School Examination Boards may refer cases to the Faculty Examination Board where it is felt that consideration of a student’s progress or qualification may benefit from disclosure of the nature of the exceptional circumstance.