Undergraduate Student Handbook and Exam Regulations
Contact the Academic Office
The Academic Office is responsible for organising and managing the academic life of Somerville’s students, from undergraduate admissions through to graduation ceremonies, alongside our colleagues working in access and outreach, welfare and student funding.
Fees and Funding
As part of our 360-degree commitment to student wellbeing, Somerville College has evolved into one of the most generous colleges in Oxford in terms of the financial support we offer. Find out more about Fees and Funding via the following pages.
The Year Abroad
Somerville is still here for you when you are on a year abroad, and we will always be happy to hear from you.
We know that it can be daunting to go abroad for a year, but we hope that it will be a rewarding part of your studies.
The University Study abroad web page has a great deal of comprehensive information that you should read and act upon during your preparations to go abroad.
In 6th week Trinity term you will be invited to an informal preparatory year abroad college briefing where you will be reminded how to prepare for your time away, and also given some tips on what to expect while you are abroad.
The Academic Office will email you in August before you start your year abroad with guidance, reminders, and some useful contact details for the college.
While you are away the Principal and Welfare Officer will stay in touch with you to find out how your placements are going and how you are getting on.
Before you go, you can prepare by:
- Reading the information given to you by your faculty or department, as well as that published on the University website
- Attending the information sessions run by your faculty or department
- Attending the college briefing (you will be emailed an invite in Trinity term)
- Understanding what fee arrangements apply during your year abroad
- Talking to other students who have completed a year abroad
- Contacting the college alumni office who can help you find alumni in the region/s you will be staying in
- Learning about the societal norms in the places you will be living in, which might not be the same as your own
- Thinking about how you might handle unexpected or difficult situations while you are away
- Arranging comprehensive travel insurance
While you are away:
- Don’t feel that because you are not physically at college that the college doesn’t want to hear from you
- If you need to get in touch with the college, you can contact your tutors while you are away
- You can also contact the Academic Office or the Senior Tutor:
- The Principal will stay in touch with you termly
- The Welfare Officer will stay in touch with you termly
- Please do bear in mind that the college is not the right place to contact in an emergency, so make sure you know what to do and who to contact should an emergency occur
Academic Dress and Sub Fusc
All members of the University are required to wear academic dress with sub fusc clothing on certain occasions.
- Matriculation ceremony
- University examinations
- Graduation ceremony
Academic dress consists of a Commoner’s Gown or Scholar’s Gown and mortarboard or soft cap. Gowns and caps may be bought at any Oxford tailor’s shop, and may also be available from Oxford University Student Union. Second-hand gowns are likely to be available. It is unnecessary to buy a gown immediately on arrival in Oxford, although academic dress is required for the Matriculation ceremony.
Sub fusc clothing consists of the following:
- Commoner’s Gown or Scholar’s Gown and mortarboard or soft cap, and either a;
- dark suit with dark socks, or;
- dark skirt with black tights or stockings, or;
- dark trousers with dark socks, and;
- black shoes, and;
- plain white collared shirt or blouse, and;
- white bow tie, black bow tie, black full-length tie, or black ribbon
- plus a dark coat if required
You can find out more about academic dress on the University website
Meetings with the Principal
Undergraduates are invited to see the College Principal each year, to discuss your academic progress and well-being.
You will be emailed with details of appointment dates and times, and information on how to sign up for an appointment.
You can also make an appointment to speak to Jan for advice and careers guidance, and to discuss references. You can make an appointment to see her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Collections are exams sat in college by undergraduates at the start of each term in order to help you consolidate the previous term of learning and get valuable exam practice.
While they are less formal than University exams and do not count towards your final mark in your degree, good performance and evidence of excellent progress may be rewarded with a prize.
Collections are an important way for your tutors to see how you are progressing on the course, which means we take a serious view of failing to attend. You must return to College in good time after the vacation (i.e. the Wednesday of 0th week) ready to sit Collections. Additionally, if your performance is well below the expected standard, it may lead to further action intended to get you back on track.
Your tutors should tell you at the end of term whether you will have any Collections the following term. Freshers do not sit collections in their first term; students who have sat formal university exams do not usually sit collections at the start of the following term. If you are unsure whether you have collections, you should contact your tutor.
Collections are always sat on Friday and Saturday of 0th Week, at the following times:
- 09:30 – 12:30
- 14:30 – 17:30
You may also occasionally be set Collections at other times during the year.
The Tutorial and Graduate Officer handles all practical arrangements for Collections. If you already have permission from the Proctors to have extra time and/or use of a computer in University exams, you may, if you wish, also request these arrangements for Collections, if you give enough notice.
Please contact the Tutorial and Graduate Officer as soon as possible to discuss such arrangements.
Late return from vacation
If you have a serious reason why you will not be able to return in time to sit scheduled Collections (e.g. illness, family emergency) then you must contact the following people as soon as possible:
- your personal tutor
- the Academic Office
- the lodge (to let them know that you will not be signing in and collecting your room key by the 0th week Wednesday deadline)
Please note that social events (family or otherwise) are not considered a suitable reason for delaying your return to College.
Deans and the Decanal Team
The Decanal Team handle non-academic disciplinary matters in the college, and additionally provide a 24/7 source of support to students.
All members of our community have an obligation to their fellow Somervillians to be respectful of each other’s wellbeing and of the spaces that we all share. The Dean is in charge of responding when the College’s Rules (which are set out in the College Handbook, along with our disciplinary procedures) have been breached. In certain circumstances, students might be asked to come and see the Dean during the weekly Dean’s Hour on a Tuesday lunchtime, a meeting we expect to take priority over any academic,s porting or social commitment.
The Junior Deans assist the Dean by providing crisis welfare support for students who experience pastoral issues outside of office hours, and by being available to respond to urgent disciplinary matters – for example, if someone was having a loud social gathering nearby while you were trying to sleep, the on-call Junior Dean would be able to help. One of the Junior Deans is available every night from 7PM until 7AM and over the weekend. The Junior Deans also sign off student event requests for the Quad, Brittain-Williams Room and Flora Anderson Hall.
You can contact the Deans by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 07805 784964 between 7pm and 7am or over the weekend.
Exams and Assessments
Examinations are governed by the University Exam Regulations and you should be familiar with the regulations for your course.
The main role of colleges in examinations is to support students who needing alternative arrangements such as adjustments relating to disability; or those who have mitigating circumstances.
The University publishes lots of information about exams on the Examinations and Assessmentsweb pages which you should read through. We also offer advice and guidance on exam preparation, and the Keep Calm and Carry On leaflet is distributed to all students via their pigeonholes at the start of Trinity term.
If you have a health issue or disability which means it is likely you will need alternative arrangements for exams, then arrange to speak to the Welfare Officer well in advance so that these can be put in place in plenty of time.
If you have to sit any exams in college, the Academic Office will make the arrangements once the exam schedule has been received. They will send you a timetable stating where your exams will take place and who your invigilator will be.
Should you experience sudden health problems that mean you can’t sit a scheduled exam at one of the standard venues (e.g. the exam schools) then contact the Academic Office as soon as possible on 01865 70619 or by calling in to House 5 in person. The office is open from 9am during Trinity term.
If you experience significant disruption during your exam period it may be possible to make a request for mitigating circumstances to be considered by the Proctors. If these relate to health issues then please contact the Welfare Officer, otherwise contact the Academic Registrar who will help you make an application.
Administrative Errors During an Exam
If you experience any administrative issues with an exam (e.g. clocks not being visible or present, procedures not being followed) then contact the Academic Registrar as soon as possible after the event. They will be able to lodge a complaint to the Proctors on your behalf and ensure that factors that have affected your performance are taken into account.
Late Submission of Work
The college is automatically notified if written assessments are submitted late. Please contact your department in the first instance if you wish to contest late submission of written work. If it becomes apparent that a procedural issue outside of the student’s control led to the delay then the department will advise the Academic Office that it may be possible to submit an appeal to the Proctors.
Transcripts and Certificates
You may for future activities need a transcript detailing the course(s) you have taken at Somerville and the results you have obtained.
Students and alumni who began a taught course at Oxford in or after Michaelmas 2007 (for exceptions see below) can order a University transcript via the main University website.
One complete transcript is automatically sent to your home address as listed on Student Self Service once you have completed your course. College transcripts are available for the following groups, with ordering information given below:
Transcripts that need to be ordered through College, and not through the University:
- students and alumni who began a taught course before Michaelmas 2007
- BA Medical Sciences
- BA Physiological Sciences
- alumni who undertook a research course
College transcripts are usually dispatched within two working weeks of receiving a complete transcript request. If you are eligible for a transcript from the College, please email the information below to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- your full name
- your matriculation year
- the course(s) you studied at Somerville
- any information needed in your transcript other than your course details and results
- whether you require your transcript(s) in hard copy, or emailed as an attachment
- if you need a hard copy, the number of copies needed
- the name of the person to whom the transcript(s) should be sent
- postal and/or email address(es) to which the transcript(s) should be sent
- the deadline by which the recipient(s) must receive the transcript(s)
Undergraduate Reports and Academic Feedback
Your tutors will write termly reports on your work with them.
The reports are available for you to read online using TMS, the Oxford Tutorial Management system. You can log in using your Oxford Single Sign On username and password, using the “Log in to TMS” button on the right-hand side of the page.
You should usually be able to see your reports for a given term from Monday of 9th week. If you’re unable to view the content of your reports, please check with your Personal Tutor in the first instance that your reports have been released to you on TMS.
Your Personal Tutor sees all of your reports, and is willing to discuss your academic progress at any time. In addition, at the end of each term, you will have a Report Reading with your Personal Tutor, when you will go over the term’s reports with them.
We place enormous value on your constructive comments and feedback on the teaching you receive, whether positive or negative.
Academic feedback sessions are organised by the JCR. Please contact the JCR Academic Officer for further details.
If you have specific concerns about your teaching that you feel unable to discuss with your tutor, you should arrange to see the Senior Tutor, Steve Rayner, in confidence.
Lost and Broken Bod Cards
Lost or broken your Bod card? Don’t panic – Bod cards can be easily replaced.
Broken Bod cards
Email the Academic Office explaining that your Bod card has stopped working, and they will order you a new one.
The new card will be sent to the Academic Office, who will email you when it is ready to collect.
You don’t have to pay for a replacement for broken Bod cards. You must, however, hand over your broken card when you collect your replacement, to prove it hasn’t been lost.
Lost Bod cards
Email the Academic Office explaining that you have lost your Bod card.
They will send you a link to the University shop where you will have to pay a charge for the replacement card (currently £15).
The new card will be sent to the Academic Office, who will email you when it is ready to collect.