January 16, 2017, by Kathryn Steenson

You May Now Turn Over Your Papers

Term begins this week and many students will be plunged straight into exams. We’ve had a look through the University Archives to find out what the students of yesteryear faced when they turned over their papers.

Music, 1939

Prior to 1948, University College Nottingham had no power to confer degrees. All qualifications (and therefore, examinations) were issued by the University of London. This paper is marked for ‘external’ students (i.e. one at a University college rather than one who attended the University of London itself).

Exam paper for the University of London's Music Degree, with empty music staves for the student to add notation

Exam paper for the University of London’s Music Degree, ‘Harmony’, 1939

History, 1948

Proof that the modern focus on the Tudors and Stuarts is not a recent phenomenon! Some of the exam papers for European history asked students to comment on extracts from primary sources that were written in the original language – and occasionally assessed their translation of the sources as well as their analysis.

Printed exam paper showing four essay questions about Henry 8th and James 1st

Exam paper from the University of London’s B.A. examination, ‘Modern English History from the beginning of the 16 century’, 1948

Education, 1950

The only postgraduate exam paper featured comes from Education. Nottingham has run teacher training courses since the 1890s. As well as the theory papers we also have records from the practical teaching component in local schools.

Printed exam paper showing 6 questions about the theory of visual methods of education

Exam paper from the Faculty of Education’s Masters Degree in Education, ‘Visual Methods in Education’, 1950

Russian, 1960

The University has taught Russian for over 100 years, and has one of the oldest Slavonic Studies departments in the country. Exams were a mixture of Russian translation and essay questions on Russian culture, literature, and history. This essay question on the ‘Young Men of the Archives’ caught my eye.

Printed exam paper with both Russian and English questions, including 'Explain the Aims and Importance of either the Young Men of the Archives or the Stankovitch circle'

Exam paper for the School of Medieval and Modern Languages ‘Russian Life and Thought’, and ‘History of the Russian language’, 1960

Physics, 1997

Some of the current Physics undergraduates were born the year this paper on Nuclear and Astrophysics was set. The references to ‘self-contained silent electronic calculators’, some of which were so advanced they were capable of storing text, date it more than some of the arts and humanities papers.

Rubric on an exam paper about the use of calculators and dictionaries

Rubric on an exam paper from the Department of Physics on ‘Nuclear and Astrophysics’, 1997

Historic past papers for various faculties are available from Manuscripts and Special Collections on King’s Meadow Campus. Selected past papers for 2014 and 2015 are available for students via the Intranet Portal, with instructions on how to search for your modules here. Exam information and timetables are available online and students can find places to revise and free computers across all campuses from the Library’s Study Anywhere page.

Good luck to everyone sitting exams! It’s a nerve-wracking time, but if you feel overwhelmed then don’t forget that the University’s Health Service can provide help and advice on Exam and Assessment Stress.

Posted in From the collectionsUniversity archives