Examination timetabling

The Examinations Team is responsible for the construction and production of examination timetables for the December, February, April/May and August (resit) exam diets.

Timetabling process
The examination timetable is constructed using course enrolments in MyCampus. It is very important that course enrolments are up to date by the end Add-Drop period as changes to enrolments once timetabling has started may mean that a clash-free timetable cannot be produced. Students who have not enrolled on courses in MyCampus by this time are not guaranteed a clash-free examination timetable.

The timetabling process has a number of stages:

1. Data check return
The purpose of this stage is to ensure that key examination information in MyCampus is complete and up to date prior to the start of timetable construction. Changes to examination data once timetabling has started can cause significant problems which may delay timetable publication.

Designated School Examination Contacts are responsible for validating and returning examination data which is sent to them in a spreadsheet by the Examinations Team. Returns must be made be made by the submission deadline which is included in the data check return e-mail to School Examination Contacts. It is important that returns are made in all cases even if all examination data is correct and no changes are necessary in which case the returned document should confirm this position.

Information from the returns is used to update examination data in MyCampus and configure the CMIS timetabling software.

The data check return must include the following information:

  • Additions or deletions - Exams which need to be added or deleted from the list to be timetabled.
  • Corrections or omissions –amendments to existing data, for example, missing script books requirements, changes to exam titles or durations.
  • Blocks and links –Exams which must be scheduled at the same time/venue (e.g. students on different courses are taking the same question paper). Blocks and links from the corresponding exam diet in the previous academic year are rolled forward to help School Examination Contacts with this process.
  • Student numbers – the data check is sent out towards the end of the Add-Drop period and includes the numbers of students currently enrolled on the relevant course in MyCampus. There will still be a small amount of fluctuation in enrolments but the purpose of this check is to identify any significant variations in course enrolments at an early stage so that they can be investigated and corrected prior to timetabling.
  • Timetabling requests – all timetabling requests from Schools must be submitted in the data check return. Typical requests may include, sequencing of papers, distribution of exams over the exam diet and not timetabling an exam on a specific date/week. Please only make essential requests. We regret it is not always possible to meet requests due to timetabling constraints, especially clashing, accommodation and publication deadlines.

2. Timetable construction and constraints
The information used in the timetabling process changes from diet to diet and year to year, for example, the courses on which students enrol and the pool of examination venues available. Therefore examinations will not be scheduled within the diet on the same day or at the same time from year to year.

The Examinations Team use CMIS timetabling software to produce a clash-free examination timetable. Exam events are scheduled in order of size. Large exams are locked in place and smaller exams are timetabled around these events. Once a clash-free schedule has been constructed the exam events are accommodated within the pool of available examination venues.

When scheduling examinations reasonable effort will be made to ensure that student examination load meets the following constraints:

  • No more than three examinations in two days
  • No evening examination followed by an examination the next morning. However a student may have consecutive examinations on the same day; in a morning and afternoon or afternoon and evening slots.

Examinations will normally be timetabled on weekdays but may also take place on Saturdays during the December and April/May diets.

The following timetable slots will normally be used:

December diet

Morning start Afternoon start Evening start
0900 1330 1800

April/May diet

Morning start Afternoon start Evening start
0930 1400 1830 

August (Resit) diet

Morning start Afternoon start Evening start
0930 1400 No evening exams

Students entitled to extra time will have this added on at the start of the exam and therefore earlier start times will apply for these students.

Multiple examinations may be accommodated in a single venue. However, exams of different durations will not be co-located unless this is unavoidable as a result of other timetabling constraints.

In cases where student numbers exceed the capacity of a single venue examinations may be split across multiple venues.

3. Preview examination timetable
A preview examination timetable is circulated to all School Examination Timetable Contacts prior to the publication of the final timetable to students. Preview timetables must not be circulated to students as they may be subject to further change.

School Examination Timetable Contacts are responsible for checking that the preview timetable includes all the examinations that they expect to take place within the diet.

The preview timetable is not intended to produce further requests for changes to the dates and times of examinations (all timetabling requests should have been included at the data check stage).

Additions to the preview timetable will only be accepted if they arise as a result of serious problems such as those listed below listed below:

  • Missing examination
  • Missing block or link

Preview timetables must be checked by the deadline requested and a return made to the Exams Team in all cases, including cases where no errors or omissions have been identified in which case the returned document should confirm this position.

4. Final examination timetable
The final timetable will be published to students on the Registry website. The timetable is normally published 4 weeks before the start of the examination diet. Where exams take place across multiple venues hall-splits will be published alphabetically by surname.

5. Roles & responsibilities

Examinations Team

  • Plan and co-ordinate the construction and production of clash –free examination timetables in liaison with departmental exam timetable leads and stakeholder services
  • Produce an annual schedule of key dates for the collection and submission of timetable date and publication of examination timetables for the academic year.

School Examination Timetable Contacts

  • Check data and provide consolidated feedback by deadlines requested.