Teaching 2020/21

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 line with Scottish Government restrictions, please do not travel back to your term-time address (or return home, if you are already in Edinburgh).  Under current lockdown / Level 4 restrictions all students and staff are required to comply with the government stay-at-home guidance

The Scottish Government has set out specific exceptional circumstances where travel is permitted.  If you believe you have an exceptional reason to travel, you must review University guidance before travelling, and complete an intention to travel form.  If you do return in-person to university with no exceptional reason for doing so, then you will potentially be in breach of the law.

All teaching for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will be digital for the remainder of Semester 2.  Semester 2 exams will take place online. 

If you are on a one-year MSc and are based in Edinburgh, our aim is to resume on-campus activities for the dissertation phase of your programme, after the end of Semester 2 (2 April).  This will be dependent on Scottish Government restrictions at the time, as Edinburgh would need to move from the current lockdown / Level 4 and into Level 3.  We will keep this under review and will keep you updated once we know more. 

 

Hybrid teaching is a flexible blend of digital learning, complemented by in-person teaching on campus.  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, including increased government restrictions, or 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.

Due to current Scottish Government restrictions, hybrid seminars for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will be delivered digitally for the remainder of Semester 2.   

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, when this is possible under current Scottish Government guidance.  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. 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. 

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.

Due to current Scottish Government restrictions, it will not be possible for the School to deliver on-campus laboratory classes in Semester 2.  Courses which would usually include practical and experimental laboratory elements will be delivered digitally.  More details will be provided by your Course Organiser on your course's Learn page. 

Please note, you may need to complete the in-lab component of your course in the next academic year to meet the requirements of our professional engineering accreditation bodies.  If this applies to you, we will be in touch with further guidance during Semester 2. 

If you are an undergraduate 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. 

If you are on a one-year MSc and are based in Edinburgh, our aim is to resume on-campus activities for the dissertation phase of your programmes, after the end of Semester 2 (2 April).  This will be dependent on Scottish Government restrictions at the time, as Edinburgh would need to move from the current lockdown / Level 4 and into Level 3.  We will keep this under review and will keep you updated once we know more.

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.

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.

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 (you can find details in the Exam Diet section of each course in the DRPS Course Catalogue). 

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.  Where a shorter amount of time is given in which to return your exam script, this will be detailed on the course Learn page.

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.

On 19 February we wrote to you detailing how the University’s package of measures to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus would be applied within the School of Engineering this year.

You can find a copy of these emails on the ETO Hub:

Please read this information alongside that on the University’s webpages.

If you have any questions about how these changes will apply to your studies, please contact your Personal Tutor or our Student Support Team.

On 3 February the University announced that it will not be possible to hold in-person graduation ceremonies in 2021, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the continued restrictions around holding large scale events.  You can find more information about how degrees will be awarded, and about the University’s virtual celebrations in 2021, on the University’s Student Administration website.

We are really disappointed that we will not be able to hold an in-person graduation day in Edinburgh.  However, in the School of Engineering we plan to hold an alternative celebration so that you can mark this important occasion, and look forward to inviting you to this event

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

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 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.

Health and Wellbeing

The School of Engineering's buildings are closed to taught students, in accordance with current Scottish Government restrictions.

Study spaces are provided by the University for students who are currently based in Edinburgh.  Due to the latest Scottish Government stay-at-home restrictions, these facilities should only be used where you have a critical need such as being unable to study in your accommodation, or being unable to access services digitally.  You can find more information about the facilities currently available for students on-campus in the Study space and catering section below.

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 restrictions, taught students should not return to campus until on-campus teaching resumes, other than in specific extenuating circumstances.

If you are already in Edinburgh, and have to come on to campus because you are unable to study in your accommodation, or to attend a pre-arranged meeting, please remember to follow Scottish Government guidance on the wearing of face coverings.

All students and staff:

  • must wear a face covering in libraries, study spaces, hospitality areas such as cafes (including front of house staff), staff welfare areas and staff rooms (unless seated) and communal areas such as corridors and areas in libraries which are accessible to students and other customers; 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 2 metre distancing being in place.  Face coverings should be worn if moving around or entering and leaving these 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 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 Student 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.

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 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.
  2. You do not need to change your location or method of engagement on your student record, unless you decide to move away from Edinburgh (which you should only do under specific exceptional circumstances, in accordance with current Scottish Government restrictions).  Self-isolation is considered a temporary absence during which students are expected to continue to engage with their studies unless they become unwell.  
  3. 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.  
  4. If you have any questions or concerns which are not answered by the information given above, you can contact the University’s Covid-19 Contact Centre

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

In line with Scottish Government restrictions, please do not travel back to your term-time address unless you have specific exceptional circumstances where travel is permitted.  If you believe you have an exceptional reason to travel, you must review University guidance before travelling, and complete an intention to travel form.

The University is offering asymptomatic Covid-19 testing until 31 March to those students who are on-campus.  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.

 

Support for Taught Students

You can access the following one-to-one support in the School of Engineering: 

  • Your Personal Tutor (PT): a member of academic staff who will meet with you to help you review your learning, academic progress and performance and 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.
  • 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.  You can find out how to contact the Student Support Team on the ETO Hub
  • Academic staff: academic staff, tutors and demonstrators who provide regular feedback throughout your degree programme.  Support is provided in class, for example through your hybrid seminars, and through your course surgery hours.  You can find out more about what to expect in the Teaching and Assessment section of this page.  Contact details for each of your courses can be found on the course’s Learn page. 
  • Teaching Support Staff: staff members who are there to help you with general teaching enquiries, including routine advice and guidance on your timetable, course support materials, tutorial and lab group allocations, coursework and examinations.  You can find out how to contact the Teaching Support Team on the ETO Hub
  • 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. 

Will support be provided digitally or in-person? 

All meetings will be offered digitally in the first instance.  In specific exceptional situations where it would not be in your best interests for a meeting to be held digitally, an on-campus meeting may be offered to you.  A room in the School has been set aside for this purpose following current government guidance, to ensure the safety of all attendees. 

Is one-to-one support available outside the School? 

The University offers a range of services to support your health and wellbeing.  These specialist services can help you to cope with a range of concerns, including the impacts of Covid-19.  The Institute for Academic Development offers study skills and learning support for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students.   

University study space

Study spaces are provided by the University for students who are currently based in Edinburgh.  Due to the latest Scottish Government stay-at-home restrictions, these facilities should only be used where you have a critical need such as being unable to study in your accommodation, or being unable to access services digitally. 

University study spaces are subject to maximum capacity limits and study spaces need to be booked in advance 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

If you are experiencing difficulties in booking study space, please contact the EdHelp service.

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.

Catering

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.

 

In line with Scottish Government restrictions, please do not travel back to your term-time address (or return home, if you are already in Edinburgh).  Under current lockdown / Level 4 restrictions all students and staff are required to comply with the government stay-at-home guidance.

The Scottish Government has set out specific exceptional circumstances where travel is permitted.  If you believe you have an exceptional reason to travel, you must review University guidance before travelling, and complete an intention to travel form.  If you do return in-person to university with no exceptional reason for doing so, then you will potentially be in breach of the law.


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. taking into account the time zones our students are based in, and selecting the best times for activities such as surgery hours;
  2. sending any equipment needed for classes to the correct postal address; and
  3. 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 (which you should only do under specific exceptional circumstances, in accordance with current Scottish Government restrictions).  

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.

You will be guided in your course selection during an individual meeting 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.

 

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.


In line with Scottish Government restrictions, please do not travel back to your term-time address (or return home, if you are already in Edinburgh).  Under current lockdown / Level 4 restrictions all students and staff are required to comply with the government stay-at-home guidance.

The Scottish Government has set out specific exceptional circumstances where travel is permitted.  If you believe you have an exceptional reason to travel, you must review University guidance before travelling, and complete an intention to travel form.  If you do return in-person to university with no exceptional reason for doing so, then you will potentially be in breach of the law.


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.

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).