SPS Autumn Term 2020 FAQ

We are excited about welcoming you back to Kent in September – and are happy to say that we will be open! There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure you still get an excellent learning and wider university experience, but of course there will still be questions.

Some of you may have seen the FAQs that have come out from the Central University with regard to the new term. These contain some very useful information about a number of general aspects of life at Kent in September. However, due to a number of reasons – including the accreditation of our courses and the employability skills associated with completing laboratory work – there are some slightly different answers for students studying Chemistry, Forensic Science, Physics, Physics with Astrophysics and Astronomy, Space Science, and Astrophysics. Please note that these nuances are specific to our School, but it is important you take note of them as they will impact your learning journey.

When will the University have clear information on how term one will look?

As with the wider University, the majority of our teaching and services will be delivered in a blended way –that is both online and in-person. We are preparing a detailed timetable that will provide an exciting and engaging new online learning approach combining academic rigour with the opportunity to engage directly with both staff and fellow students. We will provide you with further details shortly – and there will be an opportunity to ask questions of our team once this has been shared.

What parts of your studies will be online and what will be in-person and on campus will vary according to the course you are on, government requirements, and our health and safety assessments. Our new e-lectures will be complemented with on-campus and/or online interactive sessions, which will be timetabled for your convenience. We will also offer face-to-face activities for small groups and with your Academic Advisers where possible. Lab classes, and other activities where you physically need to be here on campus, will take place in strict compliance with health and safety requirements.


Will I need to return to Canterbury in September?

We want to see you on Campus believing that your learning experience will be enhanced by being here based in an academic environment. We are therefore working hard to ensure there will be a number of face-to-face social, learning, and support activities.

It’s also important to consider that because we will be delivering our e-lectures live, you will need a good study environment with a reliable internet connection. We know from our student survey and talking to you that some home environments may not be suitable for this, therefore it’s important to consider returning to Canterbury where you will be best placed to access and benefit from the good internet, library resources and quiet spaces that campus offers.

However we know the world is less certain place at present so if you can’t come to Canterbury (e.g. because you or other family members are clinically vulnerable or because of travel difficulties) we will make arrangements to support you.  As is common across the Sector your lectures will be delivered online (see below). These will be referred to as e-lectures. However, because our courses are accredited by professional bodies, and they require practical lab-based content to secure core learning skills and competences required by the vast majority of our graduate employers we must provide, and you are expected to attend, face to face laboratory practicals. Indeed your degree would not be recognised (accredited) without practical provision. We are, of course, ensuring practicals and any other face to face teaching comply with strict health and safety requirements. The wellbeing of our students and staff is paramount.


When will we be informed about which of our classes are going to be online?

All “e-lectures” will be online, and we are working hard to ensure they are not only academically rigorous but are also exciting and engaging. These will not be the same as your previous lectures, we are seeking to make them a new experience. They will be complemented by “pre-lecture” material that you will be provided with in advance of the lecture. We are allocating space in your timetable for you to complete this work, as well as set time for follow-up and engagement activities. The lectures will be live and have a component of staff-student interaction, but they will be also recorded so you can view them at a later date for revision purposes.


Student Support


Will the University support my decision not to attend in-person teaching if I am within an ‘at risk’ category?

Yes, the University will support ‘at risk’ students and provide online delivery whenever possible. However where this is not possible e.g. due to the requirements of accreditation of our programmes, this may ultimately mean you having to consider intermitting for the academic year. Should you be unable to return to campus for any reason, we therefore would encourage you to speak directly with SPS’s Student Support team to gain advice and guidance as soon as possible.


Will there be additional academic support and mental health support available to students?

We understand that this is a particularly unsettling time for students. The University’s Student Support and Wellbeing staff are working hard to make sure you have all the support you need. This includes online, and if necessary, in-person appointments with your Academic Adviser and Student Support and Wellbeing. This includes a whole programme of wellbeing events for both students and staff throughout the academic year.

As an SPS student, you will also benefit from our extensive School Student Support. Please email spssupport@kent.ac.uk if you have any questions of concerns.


How will the University support students to prepare for the next academic year?

As well as the excellent advice for studying online that is available on the Kent website, which will be developed further in preparation for the new academic year, we (as a School) will keep communicating with you about our new approach to blended  learning, as well as working with your reps and societies to ensure you are well supported.

This of course is in addition to the University Student Support and Wellbeing team as well as our dedicated School Student Support team and Academic Advisers. We will also be hosting Q&A sessions over the summer with our staff, giving you the chance to ask questions and find out more about the new term. Please keep an eye on your emails and our social media for more information.


International Students


What happens if I am unable to return to the UK in September to attend in-person teaching, due to travel restrictions?

All lectures will be available online, but we will be running our labs face-to-face. Should you be unable to return to campus for any reason, we would encourage you to speak direct with SPS’s Student Support team to gain advice and guidance. However, due to accreditation of our programmes, this may ultimate mean you having to consider intermitting for the academic year. You can also find more information about student visas on our student immigration pages.

Leave a Reply