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Email from Head of School | Thursday 9 July 2020

Hi everyone,

We hope you and your family and friends are all safe and well. As Gavin is unwell, I am taking the opportunity to send you this email myself as Head of School.

As you will have seen in the University Student Newsletter on May 19th, teaching is expected to start week commencing October 5. As we have emphasised throughout this very challenging period, our primary aim is to provide a safe environment in which we can continue to deliver the highest quality teaching, meaningful learning, and the best possible student experience. In normal times, our main mode of delivery would be face-to-face and we intend to incrementally return to this mode of teaching and learning as and when circumstances permit. Given this we have developed a set of flexible teaching and learning arrangements which are outlined below.

1. Flexible Blend of Face-to-Face and Online Delivery

From October 2020, we will be delivering a blend of both face-to-face and online learning. Our provision will be flexible enough to allow us to switch delivery methods if required due to health reasons or a second wave of the virus.

Your learning will be supported in the following ways:

  • Lectures in term 1 will be delivered online (asynchronous pre-recorded lectures) to allow everyone to take part, no matter where they are located. Slides and recordings will be made available on Moodle. As you are aware, our problem-based learning model means that we don’t often have lectures in Liberal Arts, but for all modules with lectures or lecture-based content, these will be delivered online.
  • Seminars will be delivered either face-to-face, while respecting social distancing, or online with as much scope for interactivity as possible. Whether seminars are held face-to-face and/or online will depend on a number of factors including the specifics of each module, student and staff personal circumstances, and the availability of teaching spaces.  
  • Online Learning Resources and Platforms Teaching will continue to be supported through a range of online platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Moodle, Talis Aspire reading lists, and more. In addition, essay writing guides, ongoing opportunities to provide module feedback, and a host of other supporting materials will be available online. A team of students and staff are currently also working together to create bridging materials to help the transition from first to second year. We would also encourage all our students to engage with the WOLC, as some sections of it are really useful to support you in this transition. 

2. Academic Support and Student Wellbeing

We will continue to support you on a one-to-one basis (either face-to-face or online) through advice and feedback hours and personal tutor meetings. In Term 1, Personal tutor meetings will take place on Microsoft Teams, but if you need to meet with your tutor face-to-face, arrangements will be made in order for this to be possible.

Gavinour Director of Student Experience, will also continue to provide dedicated pastoral support. Colleagues also remain available for personal tutoring conversations throughout the summer months on Microsoft Teams.

3. Skills and Employability

We will continue to develop your employability and other study skills enabling you to flourish in your degree, and become more prepared for the complex, diverse environment you’ll encounter after graduation. This will be led by Bryan as convenor of IP101: Principles and Praxis and our Employability and Placement Manager, Bodrun Nahar, and they will draw on other experts from across the university.

4. Study Abroad

Despite recent travel restrictions, we still aim to foster and support meaningful international study opportunities for you with other leading Liberal Arts programmes around the world. Our primary aim is to continue offering these opportunities, prioritising your health and safety in everything we do. Bryan will continue to lead in advising on the intercalated year and year abroad as personal tutor. As mentioned in earlier emails from Gavin, if you are interested in an intercalated year abroad and have not yet emailed the office or Bryan to let them know, could you please do so ASAP?

We should also note that even in these strange times, we will be welcoming several visiting international students from our partner institutions into our programme. We sincerely hope that you will be able to help us to warmly welcome them into our Liberal Arts community.

5. Student Experience

The need for social distancing – and the safety of our students – means we will need to adapt our usual programme of events for 20/21. However, we will continue to deliver a high quality student experience and ensure that you feel part of a supportive and encouraging community of students and staff.

We aim to deliver a safe and engaging programme of events -- if you have any suggestions for activities you would like to participate in, or activities that you would like to organise, please do let us know.

6. Further Updates

Please do continue to read your emails carefully and regularly over the summer, for further updates from both the University and the Department.

Please also keep up-to-date with the University Guidance for New and Returning Students.

If you do have any questions in the meantime, however, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

We hope you all have as good a break as possible given the circumstances.

Take care and stay safe.

Best wishes