We’ve been doing lots of work behind the scenes to make sure your course runs smoothly next term. Things might be a bit different to usual, but we think new ways of learning could benefit everyone.
Pre-recorded lectures available 24/7. One-to-one meetings from the comfort of your own room. In-person seminars with small groups in a spacious room. It’s not all bad!
To keep everyone safe and to follow government guidelines, your course at St Mary’s will look a bit different from now on. However, we see it as an opportunity to make more teaching available at a time and place to suit you.
We’ve made sure the unique nature of your course hasn’t changed. But we have changed the way it’s delivered. Whether through splitting you into smaller groups for practical sessions or arranging video calls for Q&As, these changes are for your safety and the safety of everyone in our community.
If you need extra support, our usual range of services are available. And with online appointments, you can get that support whenever it suits you.
I don't have a computer or fast internet connection
We can help if you can’t access the technology you need. We have a digital equality fund that provides equipment to those most in need, to make sure you get the same teaching experience as everyone else, regardless of your personal situation.
What will my course induction be like?
Your first week will have plenty of online events where you can meet staff and your fellow coursemates. We’ll explain how the course will work and how to access online materials. The Students’ Union are also planning a programme of social events for freshers’ fortnight.
Will the technology work?
We have lots of technology in place to make sure everything runs smoothly. Our virtual learning environment has a great track record, and we have a new teaching and learning capture system (TLC) so more programme content will be available remotely. Some of our courses were already entirely online and working well before the pandemic.
Online and face-to-face learning
Will my whole course be online?
Because each of our courses are unique, the blend of online and face-to-face teaching will be different for each course. Course leaders have worked hard to keep the feel of the course the same as previous years while introducing the new safety measures. Most courses will include a mix of teaching formats including live teaching, face-to-face teaching in small groups on campus, recorded lectures and online meetings.
Will ‘online’ lessons be live streamed or pre-recorded?
This will vary from module to module. Most programmes will use significant pre-recorded components (which could include lectures or explanatory videos) and will complement these with sessions broadcast in real-time over Zoom, Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams. These sessions can range from lectures to less formal question and answer sessions (something we know students really value). Each module will have a page on Moodle, our virtual learning site, and you will find detailed guidance there.
Will my teaching sessions be live?
This will vary from module to module. Programme teams will be working hard to enable students to engage online in real-time where this is possible and will give you more information during your academic induction.
Will ‘live’ streamed sessions be interactive? Can I ask questions in ‘real time’?
Our blended approach will focus on promoting active learning activities that allow students to engage with the tutor and each other. You will normally have opportunities to ask questions in these live sessions, either verbally or with a chat function. Your programme team will give you more information about what to expect in your academic induction.
Will lectures be filmed so that I can watch them back later?
Yes, where this is possible. You will see references to Teaching and Learning Capture, or ‘TLC’, at St Mary’s. This function allows you to watch a recorded lecture online in your own time. You can pause, watch parts again, and even search for specific words so that you get the most out of the lectures. If recorded lectures are available for your modules, they will be available on their Moodle sites.
Will there be a specific time when I am timetabled to watch a pre-recorded lecture?
You will usually be able to watch these lectures at a time that suits you, although you may sometimes be asked to engage with some materials at a specific time to enable an activity. Some lectures may be available for the whole semester, whilst others may only be available for a certain period of time. Your programme team will tell you how pre-recorded lectures will work for your course during your academic induction.
Will there be a virtual Q&A session with the academic after a pre-recorded lecture?
Pre-recorded lectures will normally have other activities associated with them. These might be on-campus sessions, or an online question and answer session. You can also e-mail your lecturers with questions.
Can I study online-only?
A small number of our programmes have been designed specifically to be completely online. If a programme is available to study in a purely online or distance learning format, this will be clearly indicated in the programme details on the course pages of our website. All other programmes will be using a blended learning approach which will include a combination of face-to-face sessions on campus and online elements.
Can I choose if I want to be in the session in person or not?
If a session is being taught on campus, you are expected to attend in person. These sessions will be designed to maximise the value of everyone being in the same room at the same time. This is especially important for courses that use specialist equipment or that include performance. If you can’t attend an on-campus session, please alert your Programme Director and your Module Convenor immediately. If it’s possible for you to attend the session online, they will let you know.
How many contact hours can I expect on my course?
All of our courses have different academic requirements, so they vary in the amount of contact time they offer. These differences will continue with our blend of online and in-person teaching this autumn. Your programme team will explain how much contact time you’ll have and what this will look like during your programme induction. This autumn, types of contact will include face-to-face teaching on campus and live-broadcast online lectures, seminars or webinars. All these options provide opportunities for you to interact with your lecturers and other students.
What size will my seminar groups be?
At St Mary’s, we know that students value small seminars, which provide a supportive environment for them to get to know each other and their lecturers. This small group approach will continue with blended online and in-person teaching. Almost all our programmes have seminars that normally have 8-20 students in each session. You’ll get detailed information about your seminars and tutorials at your programme induction.
How often will I meet my lecturers?
You will have weekly opportunities to meet with your module lecturers either on campus or online. In addition, all students on taught programmes at St Mary's are allocated a Personal Tutor. This is an academic from your subject area who will meet with you at least twice each semester. Your Personal Tutor will get to know you well and will give you a mix of academic and pastoral support to help you get the most out of blended learning. Look out for an introductory email from your Personal Tutor during induction week.
How many of my personal tutor meetings will be face-to-face?
To enable social distancing, meetings with your Personal Tutor will normally take place online in autumn 2020.
How much time will I be spending on self-directed study, lectures, seminars, tutorials etc?
The time spent varies depending on the academic needs of each module. During most weeks, students will normally have 3-6 hours of structured tutor-led teaching time for each module in their timetable. Some of that could be online and some could be face-to-face. Most full-time students will take 3 modules per semester.
How many days per week will I have a lecture, seminar or tutorial?
Teaching patterns differ across courses, and your programme team will explain how your timetable works during your programme induction. In general, you should expect to have teaching on campus at least one day per week in autumn 2020, with online sessions on other days. Your programme will usually try to give you at least one day per week with no scheduled sessions. You’ll be able to see your individual timetable around the time that induction starts.
Which teaching sessions are compulsory to attend?
We expect students to attend all the sessions in their timetable. Because missing sessions could have a negative impact on your programme, this expectation is part of our Attendance Policy. If you experience ongoing personal difficulties that prevent you from attending teaching sessions, either online or face-to-face, please bring that to your Personal Tutor’s attention. He or she may encourage you to inform the University of these issues by submitting an Extenuating Circumstances application.