The Oxford University English faculty have announced today that they will be holding the 2022 finals in an open book format for most exams, with eight hour online papers like students were given this year. Only one set of papers, Course II Paper 6 Language papers, will be held in-person. 

In an email to students, the English faculty acknowledged that “we could have chosen to aim to return to three-hour, closed book, in-person exams.” They cited the cancellation of Prelims and online collections as one of the central reasons behind their decision: “a fair mode of assessment needs to be in tune with the educational experience that you have had, including the opportunities that you have had to practice being assessed.” 

The faculty went on to state that by committing to online assessment now, they will be prepared to examine students even if social distancing measures are re-imposed, giving students more time to prepare with certainty as to what their finals will be. 

The faculty acknowledged, however, that “some of you will not be pleased by this decision, and we recognise that when you began your degree here, you expected to sit your final exams as three-hour in-person exams in the Exam Schools.”

However, some students were relieved at the announcement. Abigail, a finalist studying English at Magdalen College, told Cherwell: “I’m happy that the English Faculty have considered the impact of the pandemic across all years of our degree, rather than assuming we’d be prepared for standard conditions in summer. It’s great to have confirmation in such a timely matter and I really hope other departments are similarly understanding of their students’ concerns.”

Image: Oliver Mallinson Lewis/CC BY-SA 2.0 via

For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!