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This project explored the scope, feasibility and practicalities of enabling optionality in assessment, which provides students with some choice over how they are assessed.

Assessment optionality allows students to have a level of decision-making about when, how and in what format they submit assessments, and whether this is individual or collaborative. This flexibility can bring many benefits, including greater inclusivity and wellbeing, tailored support for diverse learning styles and enhanced student experiences.

The research underpinning this project was wide-ranging, including surveys, focus groups and interviews with teaching staff, students, external examiners, regulators, accreditors, international higher education professionals and administrators. This resulted in findings and recommendations on numerous topics, including student engagement, inclusive assessment, fairness, student outcomes and potential challenges.


Watch the project videos

Check out these two short videos, each under four minutes long, to find out more about the work that was undertaken and nine optionality in assessment recommendations:

Read the project report

The project report explores the feasibility and practicalities of giving students choice in their assessment.


It starts with a brief literature review before sharing findings from the project, with views from both staff and students. It also includes nine recommendations for the sector, enabling staff to continue to improve the student experience – and develop more inclusive and effective assessment methods.

Two key recommendations are:

Optionality in Assessment: A cross institutional exploration of the feasibility, practicality & utility of student choices in assessment in UK higher education

Publication date: 31 Oct 2023

  • Inclusive assessment: Prioritise the introduction of diverse assessment formats to explicitly address accessibility. Crucially, also ensure that resources and skills development are available to prevent unintentionally widening awarding gaps.
  • Student engagement: Staff should actively engage their students in the design process to create meaningful assessment options that reflect students’ interests.

Explore all the findings and recommendations in the report.

The project team curated 12 case studies from across the four institutions involved. These practical examples will support and inspire those looking to embed student choice into their assessment.

Case studies
Author(s) and Institution
Discipline and Form of assessment
Tim Jones
University of Manchester
Engineering Feasibility Report and individual presentation
View case study
Nicole Brown
University College London
Interdisciplinary module entitled "Disability, Chronic illness and Neurodivergence in Contemporary Society"
Choice of essay or recorded presentation based on artefacts students create in any medium of their choice
View case study
Cathy Elliott
University College London
View case study
Monika Pazio Rossiter
Imperial College London
Higher Education
Essay or a recorded presentation
View case study
Susan Laura Ramsdale
University of Manchester
Students choose their own assessment format
View case study
Elizabeth Hauke
Imperial College London
Self-Designed Project
View case study
Susie Miles
University of Manchester
Essay (including a non-graded formative assignment)
View case study
Manuela Mura & Silke Donahue
Imperial College London
Biomedical Sciences
Oral presentation, written exam & laboratory project report
View case study
Paul McFarlane
University College London
Crime Science
Essay - briefing report - video
View case study
Timothy Doheny-Adams & Rachel Hope
University of York
Presentation - show and tell
View case study
Chris Millson & Jennie Blake
University of Manchester
Interdisciplinary / Education
Format is flexible, suggested formats are variations on a blog post
View case study
Jon Chandler
University College London
Website / report
View case study

A practice-sharing conference was held online on 3 November 2023 to discuss the project’s key findings, explore further examples of optionality in assessment and present case studies.

Break-out groups enabled participants to share their thoughts and experiences about the benefits and practical challenges of implementing assessment optionality in modules and courses. Access the conference presentation and Padlet below:

Presentation: Optionality in Assessment - What works and what are the barriers?

Publication date: 15 Nov 2023

Conference Padlet

Made with Padlet

Project lead:

University of Manchester

Project partners:

Imperial College London, University of York and University College London

Other Collaborative Enhancement Projects

QAA supports a number of projects every year, covering a range of topics and interest areas. Each is led by a QAA Member, working in collaboration with other members institutions. You can find more information on all projects, and access resources and outputs, on our website.