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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

6.1.3: University policy on the summative assessment of oral communication skills

1. This policy covers the full range of oral presentations from those of a formal nature to students' informal contributions in tutorial sessions. Each type or style of presentation is likely to require a different assessment strategy. This policy outlines the items of consideration departmental EC should take into account when defining the assessment tasks.

 2. This policy should be read in conjunction with:

 a. the University's Principles of Assessment (;

 b. the University's Quality Assurance of Assessment Policy – Learning and Teaching Handbook Section 6.1.1.

Summative Assessment of Formal Presentation Skills

 3. Departmental/school education committees most ensure:

a. That if one or more of a module's learning outcomes are assessing a student's oral skills the standard University assessment regulations are consulted.

b.  That the oral presentation assessment task outlines clearly identifies to students:

 i. the marking criteria in advance of the presentation date.

ii. the proportion of marks which will be allocated to subject content versus presentation skills.

iii. the presentation timing requirements and how, if at all, these impact on marking criteria.

c. That where possible, evidence of the presentation is retained so that it can be made available to external examiners. For instance, departments may choose to record the presentations or to retain copies of the students' slides or transcripts. At a minimum notes from the markers, the mark proforma and feedback to students should be retained for consultation by the external examiner(s).

d. Where a student has a disability which will impact on their ability to perform in an oral presentation the department make any reasonable adjustment to the assessment task.

Summative Assessment of Student's Small Group Teaching Contributions

4. This section involves the assessment of students' contributions to tutorial sessions. In this instance, it is assumed that a single student is not the primary contributor. For instance, one case where this section of the policy might be applied includes the assessment of students' expression of their opinions on a set reading.

 5. In this case departmental/school education committees must ensure:

 a. That students are made aware, in advance of the teaching session, how they are to be assessed on their contributions.

 b. That students are given clear feedback describing how their contribution was assessed and that this is clearly aligned to the assessment criteria.

 c. That the proportion of the modules assessment formulated from students' participation is aligned to the volume of the evidence collected to assess a student's contribution. Such evidence could include, but is not limited to, examiners diaries and student contribution proforma. The evidence may be supported by peer and self-assessment reports.

 d. that examiners ensure that each member of a tutorial group has an opportunity to participate