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Changes to policy and curriculum

Changes to measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic

In September 2021, The Open University updated students on the additional measures that we had put in place to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic. From October 2021, some of the practices and policies that were put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic will be returning to ‘pre-COVID’ standards. However, some amendments to policies and procedures will still remain in place:


For modules that began prior to October 2021, students are currently able to request additional time to complete any remaining tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). Students will be able to request an extension of up to 21 days on all TMAs due before 31 December 2021, with the exception of the final TMA (the TMA prior to the emTMA, EMA or remote exam).

For modules starting from October 2021, the standard ‘pre-COVID’ extension arrangements for TMAs will apply from the start of the module. Students will still be able to request additional time to complete their assignment should they need it but will need to discuss this with their tutor first. They will decide whether an extension can be granted and how long is appropriate, given a student’s circumstances.

Final TMA extensions 

For modules that end before 31 December 2021, any extension to the final TMA submission deadline cannot go beyond the eighth day of the month in which a module formally ends (e.g., 8 October if your module ends in October).  

From 1 January 2022, the pre-Covid policy will apply, and an extension to the final TMA will only be permitted in exceptional or serious circumstances and cannot go beyond the first day of the month in which the module formally ends. For most modules that start in October, this will be 1 June. 

TMA marking turnaround 

Until 31 December 2021, tutors will have up to 15 working days to mark and return an assignment to students.

From 1 January 2022, we will be returning to the standard assessment policy, meaning tutors will be expected to mark and return TMAs within ten working days. 

Submitting TMAs on paper  

A small number of modules require students to submit hand-written TMAs. Unless it is an absolute requirement that a paper copy is submitted, students should still scan their handwritten work and submit a PDF version through the eTMA system rather than posting it.

If an assessment is posted to the University, there may still be delays in a piece of work being received, marked and scores returned. This is due to the University continuing to limit the number of staff working onsite. Where this results in a marked assignment being unavailable until after release of module results, students will be provided with an updated module result once all processing has completed. 

Special circumstances 

Until 31 December 2021, students are not required to provide any evidence to support their request for special circumstances to be considered.

From 1 January 2022, students will be required to submit evidence wherever possible. From this date we will also no longer be considering all students to have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during their recent studies.

Postponing an exam, EMA or emTMA 

Students are not currently required to submit any supporting evidence when requesting a postponement for a remote exam, EMA or emTMA due to be submitted before 31 December 2021. They will still need to apply for the postponement before midnight (UK local time) on the day after their remote exam, EMA or emTMA submission cut-off deadline. 

From October 2021, where the remote exam, EMA or emTMA is due to be submitted on or after 1 January 2022, students will only be able to postpone in exceptional circumstances. To be eligible for a postponement, students will need to meet strict criteria and provide third-party supporting evidence.  

Tuition and exams for your upcoming module(s)  

Tutorials, day schools and residential schools

All tutorials and most day schools and residential schools due to take place before September 2022, will be delivered online. 

Exceptions may be granted to allow some day and/or residential schools to take place in person from January 2022. These will, however, only be allowed in exceptional circumstances and students will be notified by their module team if this is relevant to their module. An online equivalent will be offered in most cases, and where this is not possible, students will be advised what to do if they cannot attend an event in person. 

From September 2022, we hope to deliver a mix of online and face-to-face tuition. 


If a module requires students to take an exam that is scheduled to take place before 31 December 2022, it will be delivered as a remote exam. This means that rather than attending an exam centre in person, students will undertake their exam remotely (e.g., at home).

Resits and resubmissions 

For modules that release their results before 1 January 2022, students who fail their module, but are offered the opportunity to resit or resubmit the exam, EMA or emTMA, will not have their score capped at the lowest grade of pass.

For module results awarded from 1 January 2022, the results for resits and resubmissions will usually be capped at the lowest grade of pass.

For more help or information

Please talk to your Student Support Team if you need any further information. You can find out how to contact them on Contact the OU.