Teaching 2020/21

UPDATED: Friday 8 January 2021

On Friday 8 January the Scottish Government announced that University students should stay at home, and not return to campus in January and February. 

Until further notice, you must not travel to your Edinburgh address, and if you are in Edinburgh you must not travel home.  Travel should only happen in exceptional circumstances, as described on the Student Information Scotland website.

This announcement is part of further restrictions being brought in across Scotland following the emergence of a new, highly contagious strain of the Coronavirus.

The University and the School of Engineering are reviewing our teaching plans in response to this new development.  Our hybrid teaching is able to adapt to any changes in the Scottish Government's Covid restrictions.  Teaching will start on Monday 11 January as planned, and will continue digitally throughout January and February.

For the most up-to-date information on the University's response to Coronavirus (Covid-19), and for details of out-of-hours support, please go to the University's Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates webpage.  This webpage also includes copies of emails sent to students by the University.

Information on how to access your classes digitally can be found on the Learn pages for each of your courses.  If you experience any problems or issues with your timetable, or with finding the information you need to join a class, please contact the Course Secretary for the course concerned.  You can find contact details on your course Learn page.

You can contact your Personal Tutor or the Student Support Team at any time to keep them informed, and to share any concerns you may have.

All School staff are currently working from home, in accordance with the Scottish Government's stay at home guidance, and will respond to your enquiries during normal working hours (9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, UK time).

Please note: the remainder of this page was correct on Friday 18 December 2020, unless otherwise indicated.  Any subsequent updates to this page will show an updated date.

Key information for new and continuing undergraduate and postgraduate taught students at the School of Engineering in the 2020/21 academic year.

Here in the School of Engineering, we have been working hard to adapt to the new conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The safety of our students and staff remains our first priority. Therefore, in response to ongoing Scottish Government guidance, and drawing on the best available practice, we have developed a 'hybrid' approach for teaching and learning.

Here is some key information on what to expect during this academic year.

Additional guidance for all taught students in the School of Engineering can be found on the ETO Hub.  The ETO Hub contains the detailed information you will need to navigate your studies, and who to contact to access support.

Detailed course information is made available to students on each of our courses via the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learn.

If you're unable to find the answer you're looking for, please email: DoLT.Eng@ed.ac.uk

Key Information for New and Continuing Students

Teaching and Assessment

In Semester 2 we will continue to deliver hybrid teaching, and Semester 2 exams will take place online.  Our aim is to increase the amount of in-person course delivery in Edinburgh, but we will keep this under review according to Covid-19 guidance from the Scottish Government and the University.  If you are not able to come to Edinburgh, you can continue to join us digitally in Semester 2.

Returning to Edinburgh - what you need to know

You received an email on Wednesday 9 December from Vice Principal Colm Harmon outlining the Scottish Government plans to bring students back to Edinburgh safely.

This explained that while all teaching will begin as planned on Monday 11 January, there will be a phased return to on-campus, in-person delivery for our undergraduate students at the start of Semester 2.  This forms part of the UK-wide attempt to manage the flow of people across the country in the crucial period at the start of 2021.

The School has emailed all Engineering students with further details on what this will mean for you.  You can find a copy of this email on the ETO Hub:


Hybrid teaching is a flexible blend of digital learning accessed online complemented by in-person teaching on campus, subject to current physical distancing requirements.  (Hybrid teaching is not the same as 100% online teaching).

This style of teaching is designed to be flexible and resilient enough to offer you the best teaching and learning experience possible during the ongoing pandemic.  It makes increased use of digital methods of engagement so that all of our students – attending in-person or digitally - can continue to learn and access our teaching and course materials regardless of Covid-19-related circumstances, such as the need to self-isolate or study in a different time zone.  It works best if we all (staff and students alike) pull together and engage positively – whether we are on or off campus.

Videos explaining the hybrid teaching approach in the School of Engineering can be found on the School of Engineering Welcome 2020 channel and on the School of Engineering YouTube channel.

If you experience any problems or issues with your timetable or with finding the information you need to join a class, please contact the Course Secretary for the course concerned.  You can find contact details on your course Learn page. 

Due to physical distancing, the course content that would usually have been delivered through an in-person lecture will be taught through other formats for the majority of our courses. Depending on the course, these formats may include a mixture of:

  • specially created video content
  • written materials
  • additional content to support self-study
  • live-streamed lectures where appropriate (for example in the case of guest lectures).

All course material will be made available to you through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learn, in advance of the course schedule, so that you can watch it at a time convenient for you, wherever you are in the world.

Group teaching simultaneously takes place both digitally and on-campus, and is included in your student timetable.  Social distancing means that we must work within strict building capacity limitations, so students are scheduled for in-person attendance at a proportion of the on-campus activities available for their course.  For the remaining activities, and for those unable to be on campus, you can attend digitally.

What is a hybrid seminar?

A hybrid seminar is a form of group teaching in which students participate either in-person or digitally at a scheduled class time.  Hybrid seminars generally take the form of “worked examples” classes where specific problems are introduced by the lecturer, worked on by the class and then discussed.  

Hybrid seminars are delivered alongside the other digital content for your course, and are facilitated by the academic course team, sometimes with the help of tutors and demonstrators.  They help foster connections and a feeling of community between learners in each course cohort. 

Hybrid seminars have been designed to enable you to attend group teaching safely in-person on campus, and you can find details of the measures which the School has taken to safeguard your health and safety in the Health and Wellbeing section of this page.

Will hybrid seminars be live and interactive for all students?

Hybrid seminars will be live and interactive, whether you are attending in-person or digitally.  The methods of interaction will naturally be a bit different for those who are at the hybrid seminar in-person to those joining digitally, but our aim is that all will be able to participate equally.

Depending on the type of activity being held in a hybrid seminar, all students will be encouraged to participate live.  Hybrid seminars may include work carried out in smaller breakout groups. 

If I’m scheduled to attend a hybrid seminar in-person, can I attend digitally instead?

Hybrid seminars have been designed to be flexible, so if, on the day, you decide to attend digitally you will find the link in your timetable to enable you to do so.  

How can off-campus students in different time zones take part in hybrid seminars?

If you are unable to attend a scheduled event due to a time zone difference, or for any other reason, you will be able to watch a recorded version of the event, or in some cases participate in a repeated session.  Hybrid seminar recordings will be available to all students on the course for review after the event.

Each course will be designed to offer other opportunities to collaborate and ask questions outside scheduled classes, for example through discussion boards on Learn.

Most courses include weekly surgery hours.  Surgery hours provide an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the course - including course content, assessment, or how to take your learning to the next level.  They are a chance to meet with the Course Organiser, and attendance is entirely optional. 

Surgery hours are also an opportunity to ask the Course Organiser questions in a more private environment than in a seminar or on a discussion board.  Session audio and video will not be recorded, though text chat will be retained.  You may be able to request a private breakout with your Course Organiser during the session.

Surgery hours are particularly important this year as it isn’t generally possible for students to ask lecturers questions at the end of each live class (although other methods are provided e.g. discussion boards on Learn).

The time of the surgery hour for each of your courses and how to join can be found in your course information.  You will usually find surgery hour joining information on the course Learn page, or in your personalised timetable.  A complete list of surgery hours is published each semester on the ETO Hub.

Occasionally, students may find a clash between their scheduled surgery hour and their other timetabled activities.  If this occurs, please contact the Course Organiser, who will be able to work with you to make alternative arrangements.

Where it is safe and reasonable to do so, the School will be opening our practical and experimental labs for on-campus laboratory classes in Semester 2.  The amount of on-campus laboratory classes you can expect will depend on the courses you are enrolled on.  More details will be provided by your Course Organiser on each course's Learn page.

Courses which would usually include practical and experimental laboratory elements, but where it is not possible to provide these on campus, will be delivered digitally.  All on-campus laboratory classes will be delivered on a hybrid basis, so if you are not able to come to Edinburgh, you can join these classes digitally too.  Please note, you may need to complete the in-lab component in the next academic year to meet the requirements of our accreditation bodies.  Additional guidance will be circulated to students in Semester 2.

If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student who is undertaking a final year project, it will unfortunately not be possible to carry out work in our laboratories.  You will work with your supervisor to develop a plan to complete your project without the need to carry out any experimental work in a laboratory.

Restrictions on lab access continue due to social distancing requirements, combined with the high level of demand for access.  We will continue to review this situation, with the hope of reopening all practical and experimental labs to students as soon as we are safely able to do so.

If your course involves computer laboratory classes, these will be delivered digitally.  Safe access to our computer labs is not currently possible for teaching and so we have adapted our courses to suit this.  More information about how these courses will be delivered will be explained on your Learn pages.

This is due to social distancing requirements, combined with the high level of demand for access, and the need to convert some of these labs to hybrid teaching spaces.  We will continue to review this situation, with the hope of reopening computer labs to students as soon as we are safely able to do so.

You can access your personalised timetable through your Office 365 calendar.  Find out more about how to access your Office 365 calendar on your desktop and mobile on the Information Services website here

Your timetable is automatically published to your calendar. Some classes may take slightly longer to appear where you need to be allocated to groups.

All courses include teaching which takes place via digital platforms, and which is accessible from your course’s Learn page.

More information on how to access your classes in-person and digitally can be found on the Learn pages for each of your courses.  This includes information on how to request a change to any groups you have been allocated to.

If you experience any problems or issues with your timetable or with finding the information you need to join a class, please contact the Course Secretary for the course concerned.  You can find contact details on your course Learn page.

The assessment arrangements for courses in the School of Engineering have been reviewed, and a number of courses have introduced coursework in addition to, or to replace, end of semester assessments.  You can find out how each of your courses will be assessed on the course Learn page.

Where an end of semester assessment is required, this will be in the form of a “take home” exam. The time you should take to complete this exam should be comparable to the amount of time you would take to complete an in-person exam, for example 90 minutes or two hours.  For most courses in the School of Engineering you will be given an extended period of time - 24 hours - in which to submit your solutions.

Guidance for School of Engineering exams can be found on the School of Engineering wiki.

Links to exam guidance for courses in other Schools can be found on the Information Services website.

Health and Wellbeing

This academic year undoubtedly feels different for all of us. If you are based in Edinburgh, please remember that the School of Engineering and the King’s Buildings campus are open for you.  Academic and professional services staff are waiting to welcome you to class and to our study and catering facilities, to provide you with the on-campus support you need.

Access to spaces within our buildings is carefully controlled due to social distancing measures (of two metres).  We need to ensure that we don’t exceed our maximum building occupancy levels, which take into account scheduled classes, as well as other users.

Keeping you safe on campus

All of our on-campus activities are being carried out in line with Scottish government guidance.  To help limit the spread of Covid-19, we have taken the following measures for the health and safety of our students, staff and the wider Edinburgh community:

  • Detailed signage is provided to help you navigate around our buildings;
  • Queuing zones for access to teaching spaces are in place, with access to teaching spaces supported by student guides;
  • Hand sanitiser stations are located at each entry and exit point, and hand-washing facilities are signposted in each building;
  • University cleaners are attending the building more frequently and are regularly cleaning common touchpoints;
  • Teaching spaces are being thoroughly cleaned, early in the morning and again during the lunch break;
  • Cleaning agents and paper towels are available in every teaching space; and
  • Perspex screens are provided on the lecturer’s podiums.

Your role in helping keep our campus safe

  1. Please do not come to campus if you have any Covid-19 symptoms, feel unwell or have been asked to self-isolate;
  2. Only enter a building when you have a scheduled activity, for example a scheduled class, meeting or if you have booked a study space;
  3. Use the designated entrances and exits for buildings, which may be different to those you are familiar with (see a link to maps below);
  4. Don’t move between linked buildings – only use the designated entry and exit points;
  5. Follow the signs showing where one- and two-way systems are in place, and where to sit to ensure two metre social distancing; and
  6. Make regular use of the cleaning and hand sanitising facilities provided. 

Please note, anyone with a disability can travel against the flow indicated by the signage.  Lifts should not be used, except if you have a disability.  Please remember that not all disabilities are visible. 

More detailed information, including building plans and the locations of building entry and exit points, is provided on the ETO Hub.

Everyone in our University community has a responsibility to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).  We must all follow guidelines to meet that obligation.

To help you to understand your responsibilities, the University has published the Good Citizen Guide.  It explains more about your responsibilities as a member of the University community living in Scotland, where government guidelines are different to those in other parts of the UK, and other countries.

Those who fail to follow the guidelines could find themselves in breach of University regulations, including the University’s Code of Student Conduct.

Protect Scotland app

The University encourages students and staff to download the free Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland's Test and Protect service.  The app alerts users if they have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for Covid-19.  Also, if a user tests positive, it can help determine contacts that they may have otherwise missed, while keeping everyone's personal information private and anonymous.

Keeping your location and method of study up-to-date

The University has asked you to tell us your location and how you are engaging with your studies as part of annual registration.  It is important that we have a record of your location and method of study, and that you update us if your situation changes, so we can provide you with the best possible support throughout the year.

You can update your location and method of study through the My Student Record channel on MyEd.  You can check your current recorded status on MyEd under the Programme tab.  More information on how to do this can be found on the Student Systems website.

In line with Scottish Government advice, staff and students:

  • must wear a face covering in libraries, study spaces (including School study spaces), hospitality areas (including front of house staff), staff welfare areas and staff rooms (unless seated) and communal areas such as corridors (including all student / customer accessible areas in libraries) and toilets unless a relevant exemption applies*; and
  • may wear face coverings when sitting in an office (including shared) or when seated within tutorial or lecture theatres, or if there is a physical barrier (such as a perspex screen at receptions) between staff and students / customers.  All activities currently authorised to take place in School buildings are on the basis of 2m distancing being in place.  Face coverings should be worn if moving around or entering and leaving their spaces.

The University therefore expects everyone to wear face coverings in all University buildings unless individuals have good reasons for not wearing one.

* Staff and students should be aware that there are certain conditions and hidden disabilities that may preclude persons from wearing face coverings and should ensure they understand and respect this.  In line with our Dignity and Respect policy, any bullying or harassment on this issue will not be tolerated.  Details of relevant exemptions can be found on the Scottish Government website.  Those exempt under the guidance and regulations do not have to prove their exemption and should not be made to wear a face covering or be denied access [to public transport or shops].  We ask for people to be aware of the exemptions and to treat each other with kindness.

A face covering can be a covering of any type (except a face shield or visor) that covers the mouth and nose. It is recommended that it be made of cloth or other textiles and should be two, and preferably three layers thick, and through which you can breathe.

Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. Transparent face coverings which assist communication for those who rely on lip reading and facial expressions can also be worn.

Read the BBC’s instructions on how to make cheap and effective masks.

The University has published instructions on what you must do if you are studying on-campus in Edinburgh and need to self-isolate.  This might be on arrival to the UK, due to developing Covid-19 symptoms, or because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.  You can find these instructions on the University website here.

The University’s Covid-19 Support Service will support all students who need to self-isolate while living in private accommodation.  If you are living in student accommodation, support will be provided by the Residence Life team.  

You can find out more on the University’s Self-isolation webpage here.

This page includes links to forms you will need to complete if you are self-isolating in either student or private accommodation.  It also includes information on how to access practical support, e.g. access to food, healthcare and wellbeing support.  

Please remember:

  1. If you are scheduled to attend a class in-person but need to self-isolate, your class information will include a link so you can attend digitally.  Do not go on campus if you have been asked to self-isolate.
  2. If you become ill while you are on the King’s Buildings campus, and are unable to go home immediately, you can use a School of Engineering isolation room.  Details can be found on the ETO Hub here
  3. If you are self-isolating while you are in Edinburgh, you must complete the University’s self-isolation contact form, as this will ensure that staff in the School of Engineering receive official notification and can provide you with any support you may need.  You can find a link to this form on the University’s Self-isolation webpage here.
  4. You do not need to change your location or method of engagement on your student record, unless you decide to move away from Edinburgh.  Self-isolation is considered a temporary absence during which students are expected to continue to engage with their studies unless they become unwell.  
  5. At any time you can contact your Personal Tutor or the Student Support Team to keep them informed, and to share any concerns you may have.  
  6. If you have any questions or concerns which are not answered by the information given above, you can contact covid19@ed.ac.uk

Your health and wellbeing continues to be of utmost importance. The University’s wellbeing services are here to support you as usual; however, they are working remotely in line with the rest of the University and Scottish Government guidelines.

Find out more about the University’s Health and Wellbeing resources and services, including how to contact them.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

The University promotes the New Economic Foundation's 'Five Ways to Wellbeing' as a great resource to help you maintain positive wellbeing:

  • Connect: Talk and listen, be there, feel connected.
  • Be active: Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood.
  • Take notice: Remember the simple things that give you joy.
  • Keep learning: Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself.
  • Give: Your time, your words, your presence.

Asymptomatic testing in Semester 2

To support the Scottish Government's plans for the safe return of students to our campuses after the winter break, the University will be offering asymptomatic Covid-19 testing from Thursday 7 January to Friday 12 February 2021.

You can find more information, including details of how to book a test, on the University website.

Health Services

This year in particular, it's really important to make sure you are registered with a doctor close to where you live.  The University provides guidance on health services, including doctors and pharmacies, dentists and opticians, sexual and reproductive health, on the Health services webpage.


The School of Engineering is closed for the winter break from 5.00pm on Friday 18 December to 9.00am on Tuesday 5 January 2021.
If you are sitting an exam over the weekend of Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 December and require assistance, you can contact Exams.Eng@ed.ac.uk  This email address will continue to be monitored until the end of the December examination diet.
If you're staying in Edinburgh over the break, you won't be alone.  The University has rounded up all the activities and sources of support on offer, on a new Winter Break website.
The site outlines the University and external support services that will be available to you over this period, should you need them.

Support for Taught Students

All students, both new and continuing, need to complete the annual registration process to be able to matriculate each year. More information on matriculation and online registration can be found on the Student Systems website here.

An important step in the matriculation process is to have your attendance confirmed by your Personal Tutor. Your attendance must be confirmed by the end of Week 2.

This year it is particularly important that you keep your location and method of study up-to-date as soon as it changes, as this can change the steps you need to go through to complete registration.

You can update your location and method of study through the My Student Record channel on MyEd. You can check your current recorded status on MyEd under the Programme tab. More information on how to do this can be found on the Student Systems website here.

Please note: if you are a Tier 4 student, International Check-in is required if you have stated that our location of study is on-campus in Edinburgh, but is not required if you are studying remotely. If you change your location during the matriculation process you will need to complete online registration again.

Tuition Fees

If you have any questions about your tuition fees and how to arrange payment, you can find guidance through the University's EdHelp service. A link to the Paying fees section of EdHelp can be found here.

It’s really important that you keep your student record up-to-date throughout the year, in particular your location, method of study and contact details.  This will enable the School to provide you with the best possible support throughout the year by:

  1. designing our timetables so that classes have the appropriate numbers of students joining in-person and digitally;
  2. taking into account the time zones our students are based in, and selecting the best times for activities such as surgery hours; 
  3. sending any equipment needed for classes to the correct postal address; and
  4. making the best use of the space available on campus (under social distancing regulations) to provide support, activities and facilities for students based in Edinburgh.

You can update your location and method of study through the My Student Record channel on MyEd.  Check your current recorded status on MyEd under the Programme tab.  More information on how to do this can be found on the Student Systems website.

Please note: you do not need to change your location or method of study on your student record for short absences, unless you decide to move away from Edinburgh.  Short absences would include:

  • a period of self-isolation, which is considered a temporary absence during which students are expected to continue to engage with their studies unless they become unwell; and
  • Christmas and spring teaching vacation periods.

2020/21 will see an increased reliance on technology to support all aspects of teaching and learning.  It is important that you are aware of our technology requirements and how you can access help.

You can find recommendations for IT equipment and software on the Information Services (IS) website here. This includes support if you need a short term laptop loan and are based in Edinburgh.

You can find more information on digital tools for learning and study here. This includes information on our two most-used digital meeting tools: Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams.

IT support

If you experience any problems with the University's IT Services, the first thing to do is to check if this problem is due to a known service issue. You can do this by checking the IS Helpline Alerts Twitter feed here.

If your issue is not already listed here, or on the more detailed IS Status and alerts webpage, then you will need to report it through EdHelp. A link to the IT help section of EdHelp can be found here.

Whether you are on or off campus, you will be guided in your course selection during an individual meeting (in-person or digital) with your Personal Tutor during Welcome Week.

It is recommended that you explore course options using PATH before meeting with your Personal Tutor. 

You can also use the University’s Course Options Hub which explains more about choosing optional courses, including links to talks by academic staff.

Guidance will be provided by your Discipline on course options for students in years 3, 4 and 5, where these are available.


The following academic support services are available to School of Engineering students:

  • your Personal Tutor (PT): a member of academic staff who will meet with you regularly to help you review your learning, academic progress and performance; become a confident, active learner; discuss your future development and career preparation; and deal with any concerns or problems that may affect your studies or refer you to other sources of support as appropriate;
  • ENGpals: a student-to-student support scheme which helps first year engineering students to make the transition to University-level learning through regular sessions run by more senior engineering students, known as Student Leaders;
  • Student Support Officers: staff members who are there to help you with general student support enquiries, including routine advice and guidance on the School’s policies and procedures which govern your progression through your degree programme; and
  • 1-2-1 academic feedback: regularly provided throughout your degree programme.

Will support be provided online or in-person?

We will hold in-person meetings between staff and students when possible and appropriate.  In-person meetings will follow current government guidance, to ensure the safety of all attendees.  Where an in-person meeting cannot take place, a digital alternative will be arranged.

Where will on-campus meetings take place?

All on-campus meetings will be held in rooms where government guidance and physical distancing can be followed.  Safety measures will be in place, including the availability of sanitiser and cleaning products, and the operation of room cleaning regimes and one-way systems.

You can find details of the measures which the School has taken to safeguard your health and safety in the Health and Wellbeing section of this page.

University study space

Study spaces are provided by the University for students on campus. These spaces are subject to maximum capacity limits to ensure that safety measures and social distancing are maintained.

The University has published information on how you can find, book and use study spaces across its campuses, using its SeatEd service.  You can find out more information on the Information Services website, including how to download the SeatEd app.

You can find out more about accessing the University's library spaces and facilities on the Library website.

School study space

Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions, it is not possible for the School to make study space available to taught students at this time.  We will continue to review this situation, and aim to reopen these facilities as soon as we are safely able to do so.


Unfortunately, due to current Scottish Government restrictions, the University's cafes and Student Villages are currently closed.  For the most up-to-date information on these facilities, please visit the University's Accommodation, Catering and Events website.


The School of Engineering’s initial “welcome back” events took place during the University's Welcome Week, from Monday 14 to Friday 18 September 2020.

Recordings of these events can be found on the School's Welcome Events 2020-21 channel here.

Information on welcome arrangements for students joining in Semester 2 can be found on the University's New Students website.

Additional Guidance

The best way to contact staff in the School of Engineering is by email, using your University email address. This is also the way you can request a digital meeting, for example, with your Personal Tutor. You can find staff email addresses on the School Staff List here.

Contacting the Engineering Teaching Organisation (ETO)

The ETO are here to support you, but in a slightly different way this year.

You can find out more about the different ways you can contact the ETO on the ETO Hub (University login required).

The University has published more guidance for new and returning students on their website here:

The University also provides comprehensive information for all students on its Students home page.

You can access help through the University's EdHelp service, which provides answers to common questions and support topics, including:

  • Accommodation;
  • Student cards;
  • Fees and funding;
  • Library and IT; and
  • Access to documents e.g. bank and council tax letters.

You can find out more about EdHelp on their website.

You can find a copy of the emails sent out to students by the Director of Learning and Teaching, Prof Tim Stratford, and the Engineering Teaching Organisation (ETO) on the ETO Hub (University login required).