Top Hat

Top Hat is the University’s institutional mobile voting solution, it was implemented in 2019 following an extensive cross Faculty pilot. The rationale behind why Top Hat was chosen is covered in the video introduction to Top Hat. The tool has two distinct uses: active learning and assessment delivery. It is accessed through a web browser or iOS/Android app and is compatible with screen readers. 

How Top Hat Can Be Used in Digital Education

Top Hat for Active Learning

Top Hat provides teaching colleagues with a system that enables them to embed interactive polls and quizzes into their slide presentations (such as PowerPoint), which can then be delivered synchronously and asynchronously.  

The Top Hat gradebook allows teaching colleagues to track performance for individual students or the entire class, and can be used to gauge comprehension and engagement, so that they can reach out to struggling students or adjust their teaching to cover knowledge gaps.  

A weekly summary report highlights what concepts are proving difficult and identifies students who may benefit from extra help. See the IT Knowledge Base article, Top Hat Staff Guide: Weekly Course Report Professor Neil Morris, Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation’s opinion piece Promoting active learning through Top Hat reflects on the benefits of for active learning. 

Top Hat for Summative and Formative Assessments

Top Hat can also be used to assign summative and formative assessments to students, online and remotely, where responses can be typed into a standard keyboard by the student. 

Top Hat offers three test environments and 11 automatically graded question types along with the option to set questions with long answers that are marked manually: 

Non-Monitored Tests

Staff can assign a non-monitored test to students by scheduling it with a start and end time; there is also an option to set a time limit in which the test must be completed by the student once started. Staff can set assessment access arrangements (known as accommodations in Top Hat) to give certain students additional time.  

Once the test is closed, it will be auto-graded (in the case of most question types) or manually graded in the case of long answer questions. *Non-monitored tests work well for open book and online time limited assessments. 

Monitored Tests

Staff start and stop a monitored test manually and must monitor the test for the entire duration that it remains open to students. A unique code is generated when the test is started, which must then be shared with students so that they can enter the test. 

Once the test is in progress, certain behaviours can cause students to get locked out of the test. These are decided upon by the member of staff when setting up the test. For example, if the student tries to open a new browser window or move to a different desktop, minimise the test window or take a screenshot, you can choose for them to be locked out of the test. The member of staff monitoring the test will need to unlock the student’s test for them to continue. 

Once the monitored test is closed, it will be auto-graded (in the case of most question types) or manually graded in the case of long answer questions. 


Top Hat has two ways in which you can use Pages: 

For Homework 

Staff can assign questions as homework for students to complete within a scheduled start and end time period. It is also possible to assign homework to specific students and set assessment access arrangements to give certain students additional time. 

In contrast to a non-monitored test, students will be able to revisit homework content as many times as they wish whilst it is still available, however there is an option to limit the number of times a question can be attempted. As with the other Top Hat test environments, questions are auto-graded (in the case of most question types) or manually graded in the case of long answer questions. *Pages work well for homework style or open book assessments. 

For Review 

Staff can assign questions for their students to reviewSetting content for review provides students with the ability to respond to questions and check their own understanding as the right answer is shown to them after they attempt a question; review content is not graded.


The IT Knowledge base has a number of guides for staff and students on how to use Top Hat, the guides listed below should help staff to get started with accessing and using Top Hat. 

Sign up for a staff account

Top Hat refers to staff as professors and modules as courses. Guidance on how to sign up for a Professor account and create your first Top Hat course is available via the IT Knowledge base, see how to sign up for a staff Top Hat account and create your first course. 

Add students on your Top Hat course

There are two ways to add students to your Top Hat course: 

Sync your Top Hat course with a module in Minerva

It is recommended that staff integrate their Top Hat course with their corresponding Minerva module. This will enable the class roster to be imported into Top Hat so that all the students enrolled on the module can be invited to join the Top Hat course through an automated email. Staff can then choose to export marks for any assessed work delivered from the Top Hat gradebook to Minerva. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the IT Knowledge base, see Top Hat and Minerva Set-up and Sync. 

Manually add students

Students can be manually added to a course; this process involves then receiving an automated email invite which they need to click to join; you will need your students details to add students manually.   

Add staff to your Top Hat course

University of Leeds staff (who have a Top Hat account) can be added to your course to support the creation, delivery and marking of your Top Hat content, see Top Hat Staff Guide: How to Add a Professor or TA to your Top Hat Course. 

Top Hat browser requirements

Top Hat provides the following information on browser requirements. Top Hat recommend the use of Chrome or Firefox, please do not use Internet Explorer. Students can download the iOS/Android Top Hat app; however, it is recommended that they use a laptop or PC for high stake assessments, for further information, see Top Hat Browser Requirements.

Guidance on using online open book assessment

The Digital Practice website also has general guidance on online open book assessment and also contains a detailed comparison of available technologies. 

Case Studies

The Digital Education Service have produced a video showcasing how University of Leeds staff have used Top Hat for teachingsee video testimonials from staff using Top Hat (4:41 mins)

Get Involved

Join the Digital Education Systems User Group (DESUG)

The DESUG is open to all University staff and students and enables systems end users to propose enhancements to our teaching and learning systems, directly shaping the future product roadmaps of our digital education systems.  

Meetings are held 3-4 times a year; attendees receive updates and can feedback on recent and future systems’ enhancements and digital education system projects. If you would like to be added to the Digital Education Systems User Group, please request to join the DESUG Team. 

Join the Digital Education Systems Group (DESG)

The DESG is open to University staff and provides information on what’s happening and what’s coming up. Members are added to the Microsoft DESG Team and are invited to a monthly meeting to input into discuss on systems and projects. Once you are a member of the team, you will find channels for different systems as well as general discussion groups. If you would like to be a member of this group, please request to join the DESG Team. 

Join the Tips Community

The Teaching Innovation and Practice in Student Education (TIPS) Community is a network for teaching and support staff with the aim of collecting and sharing examples of effective practice from across the University. If you would like to join the TIPS community, please request to join the Tips Team.

See Relevant Events

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Join this event suitable for academic staff and PGRs who teach, and SES staff who help set up assessments.


Join this event suitable for academic staff and PGRs who teach, and SES staff who want to use it in their teaching.


Join this event suitable for academic staff and PGRs who teach, and SES staff who want to use it in their teaching.


Join this event suitable for academic staff and PGRs who teach, and SES staff who help set up assessments.