(Re)designing summative assessments

Our vision is to create conditions throughout Oxford where excellence in teaching and assessment can thrive.

In 2023-24, we invite you to work with us on projects related to three key priority areas: embedding digital education, integrating academic skills and (re)designing summative assessments. Find out more about our consultancy service.

Find out below how we can work with you on projects related to (re)designing summative assessments in 2023-24.

In 2022-23, we received 17 expressions of interest for the (re)designing summative assessments service and worked with 12 teams to diversify their assessments.

Colleagues in the Centre for Teaching and Learning have opened my eyes and significantly broadened my perspective of what 'diversification of assessment' can truly mean at Oxford and have introduced me to new ways of thinking about the interactions between programme and module level intending learning outcomes and the methods used to assess them. Outputs of work with the Consultancy Service on redesigning summative assessments have yielded exciting transformational changes which have been identified during external review as both innovative and ahead of the curve in terms of introducing diverse synoptic assessments.

Dr Andy Garlick, Deputy Head of Education Policy and Planning, Social Sciences Division

What are some of the drivers at Oxford for (re)designing summative assessments? 

If your course or programme team is interested in implementing changes to the summative assessments, or you are designing a new course/programme to commence from the 2025-26 academic year, we can work with you through the (re)designing summative assessments service.

We promote the role of assessment in supporting inclusive educational approaches, while maintaining the academic robustness and challenge reflective of the high-quality teaching and Oxford's outstanding students.

There are many other drivers for closely considering the (re)design of summative assessments, ranging from reviewing workload, a desire to introduce different marking practices, the development of assessment criteria linked to specific tasks and conditions, promoting academic integrity and responding to the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence tools.

This consultancy opportunity is focussed on (re)designing assessment tasks, conditions and timings to ensure they are working well for you and your students.

How will we work with you? 

Recognising that every subject is different in its assessment needs, we will work with divisions, departments, faculties and course or programme teams, and in partnership with your students, to identify and scope out summative assessments you are interested in redesigning and appropriate timelines for taking this forward.  This could be through a series of structured conversations or workshops with groups of staff.

If you are interested in working with us on this strategic priority, please contact us to organise a 'pre-meet' to discuss your requirements before completing our expression of interest form by the due dates below:


EOI completion dates for 2023-24

Thursday, Week -4, MT23 (7 September) NOW CLOSED

Thursday, Week 3, MT23 (26 October) NOW CLOSED

Thursday, Week 6, MT23 (16 November) NOW CLOSED

Thursday, Week 1, HT24 (18 January) NOW CLOSED

What are some examples of projects? 

Projects related to this strategic priority could include working with you to:  

  • Identify summative assessments for a course or related group of courses that have the potential to be redesigned and choose what would be appropriate to the subject 
    • For example: In 2022-23, we worked with the Nature, Society and Environmental Governance MSc. The summative assessments have been completely revised, removing examinations and introducing synoptic coursework tasks, including a variety of written and oral tasks, staged over the academic year. This has contributed to a more inclusive and diverse range of assessment tasks, and supported workload across students and staff.  
  • Develop and use of assessment criteria (engaging students with criteria and making the most of Inspera) for redesigned assessments
  • Ensure academic rigour and challenge of assessments (to include academic security of assessments and supporting positive academic integrity) for redesigned assessments
  • Explore the potential for digital tools to support students when redesigning assessment tasks, for example, Panopto  
  • Review the pedagogical considerations for summative assessments, alignment with the teaching and formative assessments and feedback to review student preparedness 
  • Identify any policy, regulation, technical or digital impacts of the proposed redesign of summative assessments. We will work with you and Education Policy Support (EPS) and Student Registry to explore further any policy and regulation implications and developments to support the proposed assessment redesign    
  • Develop a timeline for taking forward through the approval process and any ongoing support from us required   
  • Share materials and resources to support the redesign of assessments, including providing examples of different types of assessments, developing marking criteria, and resources to support students and tutors in relation to developing the knowledge and skills demanded by the redesigned assessments.  

We work with you and EPS and Student Registry to identify any policy, regulation, technical or digital impacts of the proposed redesign of summative assessments. We explore further any policy and regulation implications and developments to support the proposed assessment redesign    

It is anticipated that by the end of a project, departments and faculties that have engaged with us in this way will have a plan for how they want to progress (re)design of summative assessments and understand what support, policies and Registry updates may need to be reviewed.  

An example of the initial workshop for redesigning summative assessments  

An initial 90-minute workshop will take place with key stakeholders to explore the topic of redesigning summative assessments as part of the process of working with us.  

This workshop will provide an opportunity for course or programme teams to explore the underpinning pedagogical principles of good practice in assessments within their subject before considerations around assessment redesign to include: 

  • Reviewing current summative assessment practices 
  • Reviewing examples of different assessment tasks 
  • A mapping of the range of summative assessment tasks and consideration of how the conditions and scheduling of assessments tasks supports students learning   
  • Embedding inclusive assessment practices from the outset 
  • Supporting students to engage with assessment. 

Who can you contact for further information about this service?

Please contact us at contact@ctl.ox.ac.uk.

Further support and resources

TESTA and ABC Learning Design

We recognise that many course and programme teams may wish to explore projects that span across redesigning summative assessments. In our initial scoping meeting with you, it may emerge that a broader conversation might be of value. Examples of methodologies we can use to support this conversation are TESTA (Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment) fast-track and ABC Learning Design.  

Additional resources

In addition, the following Centre for Teaching and Learning resources also support departments, faculties and programme teams who are designing, reviewing and/or redesigning their assessments: 

  1. A set of eight principles for designing assessment with a short explanation of each.
  2. A booklet containing summative assessment profiles of 17 different types of assessment. Each profile contains:
    • An overview of the form of summative assessment 
    • Suggestions for formative feedback design for this form of assessment
    • Pros and cons of the assessment
    • At least one example where the form of assessment is currently in use at Oxford.
  3. glossary of assessment terms.