Study and engagement advice for students during COVID-19 lockdown

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Director of Education, Dr Chris Shepherd, shares a round up of advice on exams and engagement in light of coronavirus.

Engagement and Community

It’s now even more important than ever that we pull together as a community. Your reps and societies have been fantastic at helping disseminate messages, from you to us and vice versa, as well as ensuring the wider cohort is safe and well. We are due to catch up with the course reps in the next week or so via video, so do feel free to feed questions into them to pass. However, any questions or worries can be fed into the DoUGs and

To help communicate clearly with you, we have streamlined our communications to you. From next week, the previously daily emails will become less frequent as news slows down, but they will still come from your DoUGS team and contain vital information and advice. We have also set up Moodle Q&A forums that we set up in each Moodle page, which are being used widely and successfully, so do keeping using these.

For those of you who haven’t been able to go home, things may be harder. But we want you to know you are not alone. We have set up a group for “SPS students living locally on or off-campus and away from home” which we will be starting to make use of soon for non-academic social interactions.

We will also be looking at running a SPS Quiz night towards the end of the month – a chance for you to catch up, virtually, with your fellow students and staff from the School. We will be posting more information about this over the coming weeks, so watch this space. But in the meantime, we encourage you to use whatever technology is available to keep in touch with each other – either for revision or social purposes. We have been running virtual coffee mornings for SPS staff (and their children and pets) which have helped keep us all smiling!

Exams, preparation and support.

As with all aspects of our daily life, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way you will be assessed this year. Exams will still go ahead, and they will be normal exam papers – just taken under slightly different circumstances.This year, exams will be online and you will have a 48-hour window to complete each exam (access/download the paper, provide answers and upload these).

The other important news is that after a massive quantity of work and investigation, taking into account information from us (students and staff, we passed all your messages on when you raised issues) and nationally, the university has decided to implement a no-detriment policy that will safeguard the contribution of your academic performance in the outcome of your studies for this academic year. This approach will hopefully give you comfort in knowing that under the no-detriment policy your final average overall mark for the stage will not be impacted adversely as a consequence of the current conditions caused by COVID-19.

What’s important in the meantime is to make sure that you engage with all of the online materials that we are working hard to produce for you. The Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) is continuing to provide individual study, assignment and exam prep tuition and guidance, through Skype and email appointments, for all students from foundation to postgraduate/doctoral research. Students can book online now.

SLAS also have a range of online resources (workshop materials and learning resources) to support undergraduate, postgraduate taught, postgraduate research students and Higher Degree apprentices. They are also in the process of developing specific guidance for online exams and assessments in collaboration with other departments/services.

If you have any questions or concerns please do get in touch with me, or if you do have technical concerns regarding exams, please contact Alternatively, our Senior Tutor or student wellbeing team are available. If you question is about a particular module, please contact the module convener, or get in touch with the relevant DoUGS:


Stages 0-1: Dr Ewan Clark or deputy DoUGS Dr Donna Arnold.
Stages 2 to 4: Dr Ewan Clark or deputy DoUGS Dr Emma McCabe.

Forensic Science:
Stages 0-1: Dr Chris Shepherd and deputy DoUGS Dr Donna Arnold
Stages 2 to 4:  Dr Chris Shepherd and Bob Green.
MSc Students: Dr Chris Shepherd and Robert Barker.

Physics/ ASSA:
Stage 0: Dr Gaby Roch
Stage 1: Dr Gaby Roch and Dr Michael Hughes
Stage 2: Dr Silvia Ramos
Stage 3: Dr Adrian Bradu
Stage 4: Dr Michael Hughes

Do get in touch if you have any other questions, and stay safe and well.