Teaching and learning

Over the last year, we have delivered teaching to suit a range of circumstances, within UK Government guidelines. Although we are hopeful that most restrictions will be lifted by this autumn, our planning for next year allows for a range of scenarios that will ensure the safety of our whole community, while still providing an excellent learning experience.

Although most programmes of study for 2020/21 have now concluded, there are some postgraduate taught programmes with teaching scheduled for over the summer months. If this applies to you, you should have received details from your department, and these sessions will go ahead as planned.

As with winter examinations, the summer assessments and resits will take place mainly online (except for some specific practical sessions). We have put a number of assessment support measures in place and these are now available to view on our examination webpages.

Please be assured that if you have already been informed that you can continue to study online for the remainder of this academic year then your position has not changed and we will continue to support you remotely. There is no need for you to take any further action now.

Plans for next academic year

COVID-19 may have presented challenges for everyone over the last year, but the accelerated need to adapt our delivery to suit a range of circumstances has also presented opportunities to re-think our teaching and learning environment and adopt some best practice principles for the future.

We’re very grateful for the feedback many of you have provided about your experience in the current year and would like to assure you that we are using this to inform our plans. Many students told us that they appreciated being able to pause, rewind, review and learn at their own pace. However, they also told us that they would like more time to meet with their peers and tutors on campus. 

For this reason, as long as public health guidance at the time allows, we are planning for the next academic year to look very different to this one, with all students engaging in regular, meaningful, interactive in-person teaching sessions. As we anticipate social distancing measures will still be required, at least for Semester 1, this will be as part of a blended approach.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning means receiving on-campus, interactive face-to-face sessions, supported by online teaching in place of some sessions that would normally take place in larger groups, such as lectures.

It does not mean the absence of in-person teaching and group learning, and definitely should not be interpreted as ‘everything online’.

Blended learning also does not mean other in-person activities will not go ahead, and as long as guidance at the time allows, our campus will be open for all students to make the most of the services and facilities available alongside their teaching sessions. This includes access to both of our on-campus libraries, as well as study space and computer labs across campus, the chance to socialise and relax in our Guild of Students and participate in individual and group sport at our Sports & Fitness Centre. You'll also be able to access our Student Services on campus, including our wellbeing and support services. 

Our blended model centres around a curriculum approach called 'active learning'. Active learning relies on using approaches which engage and challenge students in the learning process through activities, often collaborative and reflective, not only inside but also outside the classroom.

By using this model, programmes can mix different teaching session formats to suit the subject, benefitting from the distinct qualities that online and in-person sessions can bring to the overall learning experience.

Teaching modes

This autumn, most programmes will use a mixture of:

1. Face-to-face sessions

Our in-person learning sessions will offer the valuable opportunity to regularly interact with other students and your tutors to discuss topics further, engage in thoughtful debate, or ask for support. Typical in-person sessions will include seminars, tutorials, workshops, and activities in which students require access to technical equipment or facilities, such as lab sessions.

Over the last year, we all now recognise the value of face-to-face interaction in our own day-to-day lives, and how much it can impact our overall wellbeing. This is why, wherever possible, students will be expected to attend these on-campus sessions because we believe they are a really important part of your learning experience while at University.

2. Online learning sessions

In-person teaching will be supported by online sessions, mainly in place of some larger lecture-style teaching.

Some of these sessions will be delivered live by your tutor to encourage further interactivity. As with in-person sessions, this gives you the opportunity to actively participate by connecting with others during the session and asking questions in real-time.

All sessions will be recorded, or available as an online module on Canvas, our virtual learning environment platform, for you to work through at a time of your choosing. You can set the pace, go back as many times as you like to topics that you are unsure of, and take breaks as and when needed.

Topics discussed in lectures will then be further explored during your scheduled in-person teaching sessions.

We are still working through the detail in terms of exactly what programme timetables will look like next year, however, we are working hard to make sure that we can safely deliver as much in-person teaching as possible. We will communicate with all students as soon as we have further details to share.

Changes to programmes

It is possible, in the event that tighter restrictions are re-introduced by the Government, that we may need to move some or all teaching fully online for a period of time. Our experience from this last year has shown that we can do this very successfully, with measures including; external examiners positively satisfied with outcomes, standards maintained, and learning outcomes achieved.

However, we understand that any changes to teaching can be a cause for concern and we will continue to keep all our students regularly informed to let you know if, or how any changes will impact you.

Support available

Many of our student services and support are fully accessible via our digital channels. This includes among other things, support with your studies through KnowHow, online access to our library services, help identifying and pursuing your chosen career, access to advice and guidance on everything from mental health to money issues, and a range of activities to help keep you occupied away from your studies. We’re always here for you, so please continue to take advantage of any support that may be beneficial to you. 

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