Female student smiling in the library

Learning and support

Find out what teaching, support and assessments will look like in 2020/21

It's likely that social distancing will still be in place by the time you join us – so what will your lectures, seminars, tutorials and practicals look like?

You'll get a blended and connected learning experience. At the moment, we're planning on limiting the number of people in our teaching areas, so everyone has enough space and they feel safe. 

You'll do blended learning using our virtual learning environment, Moodle, and other digital tools – so you’ll get the same amount of contact time with your lecturers, but through a blend of face-to-face and online delivery.

Of course, some teaching just doesn’t work online. We can't replicate all of the lab, workshop and studio-based material online, but you won't miss out. You'll still do the practical learning, with the relevant safety measures in place. We'll also provide simulation experiences so that you can take part in all aspects of your degree right from the start of the year. 

We're also looking into the feasibility of providing you with access to powerful, cloud-based virtual machines. You can either use these for individual work or group sessions that need a pop-up virtual IT lab. Using the virtual machines, you can do activities like advanced modelling, animation or data-crunching in the cloud during an online teaching session or for course work.

We'll make sure every lab, workshop and studio space is adapted, cleaned and equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. You'll learn in smaller groups, so we can make sure the appropriate social distancing rules and other safety measures are respected.

You can read more about our plans for how we'll teach you below.

1. Lectures and other large-group teaching

As part of our blended and connected approach to teaching, we’ll make sure you have access to your course tutors and other students on the course.  You’ll be able ask your course tutors questions as you think of them. You can also talk with other students through online chat and through more formal online discussion forums.

We’ll record lectures and large group teaching sessions – so if you want to check something, you can easily catch up. Though we won’t expect staff to give, or students to listen to, long lectures, all lectures will be broken down into smaller chunks to aid learning and interaction with the material.

It might take you a session or two to get used to it, but you’ll still get a great teaching experience.

2. Practical classes and small-group learning

Things like practical classes, lab and studio work, tutorials, workshops, and face-to-face small-group teaching and support are also important in our blended and connected approach to teaching. 

For your safety, you’ll be in smaller groups than usual, and that means you’ll get plenty of one-to-one time with teaching staff and opportunities to contribute to discussions. 

We’ll also provide opportunities to undertake some practical classes and small-group learning online and through simulation so that you can take part in your own time.

You’ll also be able to join events on campus where social distancing is possible or with the use of PPE.

3. Face-to-face support

Sometimes you’ll need to talk face-to-face with someone – especially if it’s about an important academic or personal issue. 

The good news is that you’ll still get to meet regularly with your personal tutor, and access all our guidance and support whenever you need it.

Your personal tutor

Your personal tutor helps you to adapt to new ways of learning and to study effectively, giving you academic and pastoral support throughout your time at university. 

Their role is to assist you to initially adjust to student life, then thrive as a student of the University of Portsmouth by providing guidance, support and encouragement. They’ll also direct you to further specialist support or guidance if you need it.

You can meet your personal tutor face-to-face, by following safety guidelines. You can also meet via video chat or over the phone, and contact them by email when you need their support. 

Further guidance and support

Our network of MyPort student services hubs across the campus will be open. MyPort can:

  • Support you in your student journey
  • Provide guidance and support on all aspects of your student experience
  • Assist you in accessing other services in the University

You can also access MyPort digitally, rather than in-person.

Your mental and physical wellbeing is the most important thing to look after, so we’re making sure you can access our support teams online, from wherever you are. 

Professional Student Services

Our professional advisors are available via video chat, phone or email, and support services you can access include:

  • Health and wellbeing 
  • Academic skills
  • Learning Support Tutors
  • Finance and money
  • Careers and employability
  • Additional Support and Disability Advice (ASDAC)
  • Student's Union Advice Centre 

Where necessary or appropriate, you can also continue to have face-to-face meetings with a team member, where all appropriate safety measures will be taken.

Male student holding a laptop in the library

4. Registering for your course and getting your student card

Before the start of the academic year in October, we’ll send you an email with all the details of what you’ll need to do, including:

  • When and how to register
  • How to get your University computer username and password
  • How to apply for your student card

Once you’ve completed your registration, you’ll get an email confirmation in your student Google mailbox, along with details about how you will receive your student card. 

Late arrivals

If coronavirus stops you from making it to Portsmouth for the start of term on 5 October, please let us know.  

We allow late registrations, up to a certain point, on an exceptional basis, and coronavirus would be considered valid for this. Details on what to do are on our late registrations page.

5. Using computer software and equipment

You can download the relevant computer software you’ll need for your course for free from the University apps store, AppsAnywhere

Some software requires you to be on-campus before you can download it, but by connecting to the University server through our Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can also download those programs at home.

If you need access to a high-spec lab computer or a computer on campus with specialist software not in AppsAnywhere, you can login remotely from home – just select ‘Remote Access to Lab Computers’ from AppsAnywhere and make sure you’re connected to the VPN.

6. Using the library

The library is an important part of student life and we’re putting plans in place to make sure you can use it properly – both in person and online.

The University library is full of resources to help you with your studies. You can access over 700,000 ebooks online. The library also has a database of hundreds of research journals and ejournals.

If you can’t find one you’re looking for, you can contact the library directly by email or live chat to ask them if it can be added to the permanent collection or borrow it on inter-library loan.

We’re still finalising the details, but we’re planning to make the library accessible in person in the near future. Ideas we’re considering include:

  • Limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time
  • Installing cleaning and sanitiser stations
  • Launching a ‘reserve and pick-up’ service for books

We’ll update this page when we have more information on how you can access the library in person.

7. Exams and other assessments

Exams and assessments will take place as normal. Some will take place on campus with appropriate social distancing in place, and some will take place online.  

We’ll let you know with plenty of time if there are significant changes to planned assessments so you won’t be at a disadvantage.

8. If you need to self-isolate

The NHS has stay at home and self-isolation advice in line with government guidance. 

If you need to self-isolate, the most important thing is to ensure that you are looked after. But if you're self-isolating either at University or at home, you’ll still be able to access all your course teaching materials and much of your teaching online – so if you’re well enough to study, you won’t miss out. You’ll also be able to catch up when you’re feeling better, and we can support you to do this.

You should also let your Personal Tutor know if you self-isolate so they can direct you to any additional support you might need, especially if you miss any face-to-face sessions on campus.

If you’re self-isolating in University halls of residence, contact the University’s Resident Life team. They can help arrange food parcels so you don’t have to worry about going outside.

You can self-isolate for up to 10 days without a medical note from your doctor or NHS 111, and you can do this multiple times.

Self-isolation and assessments

If self-isolation or illness stops you from completing an assessment on time, you can apply for extenuating circumstances so you’re assessed fairly.  

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