Assessment and exams explained

All On-demand Learning courses that carry credits are assessed in some way.

Courses that do not carry credits are not formally assessed. But they may include assignments and quizzes to help you check your progress and understanding.

Types of assessment


Ongoing assessment throughout your course to help you and your tutor monitor your progress. Formative assessments do not count towards your final mark. Most of our courses feature some element of formative assessment.


Assessments that take place at the end of units or at the end of your course to evaluate your understanding of the materials you’ve studied. Summative assessments contribute to the final mark you receive for your course.

Assessment methods we use

Formative and summative assessments can be carried out in many ways, including:

  • essays
  • quizzes
  • online tests
  • group work
  • projects
  • poster creation
  • presentations
  • your contribution to online discussions
  • final exams.

Check the assessment section of any of our online short course or degree pages to see which methods the course or degree uses.


Some of our courses may involve formal exams that you have to attend in person at the end of your studies.

Where this is the case, we will always make this clear to you on the course page.

You can attend exams:

  • On campus at the University of Aberdeen.
  • At your local British Council Office if you’re overseas.
  • At another university or exam centre that is closer to you.

We can help you find a convenient location to sit your exam, wherever you are in the world. You then make the arrangements and book the exam yourself.

Our staff will contact you 6-8 weeks prior to the exam to ask where you want to sit your exam, so we recommend exploring your options well before then.

It’s free to sit exams at University of Aberdeen campuses.

Sitting exams elsewhere

If you need to take your exam at another university, an exam centre, or a British Council Office, they may charge you a fee to sit an exam on their premises. This is an additional cost that you will have to pay on top of your course fee. You pay this fee to the exam centre, not to us.

Exams for online courses follow our on-campus exam timetable. All exams, for both online and on-campus courses, take place at the same time. The dates and times of exams cannot be changed.

View the latest exam timetable.

Where to find exam dates

We will always make exam dates available to you as soon as possible so that you can plan for this in your schedule.

If your online short course or degree features an in-person exam, you’ll find a dedicated ‘Exam’ section on the course or degree page. Check that section for specific exam period details.

What if you cannot attend an exam?

If you’re unable to make your exam date (for health reasons, or due to exceptional work commitments, for example) you should let your School Office know as soon as possible.

They will require supporting evidence for your request. This could be a letter from your employer or health practitioner.

What happens next?

The School Office Special Circumstances Committee will decide whether your reasons are enough to be considered ‘medical or good cause’. If this is the case, it means that when you take your exam it will not be considered a resit and you will not be charged for it.

You will then need to sit your exam at the next available opportunity. This is usually a few months after the original exam date, either in January, May, or during our summer resit period.

Rebooking exams elsewhere

If you’re sitting your exam outwith a University of Aberdeen campus, you’ll need to arrange to rebook your exam with your local exam centre or British Council Office.

Have questions about assessment or attending exams?

We’re here to help.

Get in touch