Academic Services


Community building and supporting academic communities.

Sharing Practice in Online Courses 

MSc Clinical Trials students are encouraged to express constructive criticism in the ‘General’ forum under a variety of headings in

cluding the ‘Suggestion box’ and they can informally chat to each other in the ‘Common room’ forum. This has led to a number of enhancements during the running of the programme, including the development of an online academic community.

Contact:  Michelle Evans, Co Director MSc Clinical Trials and Chris Sheridan, Online Learning Coordinator, Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences.

Developing networks

Building Student Community 

Approaches to develop cohort identity and helping students to build relationships with staff members, such as degree programme lunches, changes made to the honours curriculum, and the involvement of academic staff in Year 2 tutorials.

Contact: Dr Nick Treanor, Head of Philosophy.

Chemunity online portal

CHEMUNITY is an online staff-student collaborative project, developed as part of the Student Partnership Agreement, in the School of Chemistry. The project aims to support students academically, enhance the student voice and promote good mental health and well-being.

Contact: Dr Chris Mowat, Senior Lecturer, School of Chemistry

Sense of belonging

This guide, developed by the Sense of Belonging Task Group, includes some practical tips on fostering a sense of belonging.

Contact: Professor Tina Harrison, Assistant Principal Academic Standards and Quality Assurance

SolidariTea project

The School of Biological Sciences hosts SolidariTEA, a regular facilitated tea/coffee morning where postgraduate research students can discuss matters out with the technicalities of their research in a supportive environment. SolidariTEA was developed as part of the Student Partnership Agreement.

Contact: Dr Louise Horsfall, Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences

Find out more about the Student Partnership Agreement 

Programme Directors and Administrators Network (PDAN) and the ‘Lets Gather’ initiative 

PDAN allows programme directors and administrators in the School of Health and Social Sciences to meet on a regular basis. It promotes sharing good practice and provides a consultation forum. The Let’s Gather events are for students and staff to come together as a school community.

Contact: Dr Emily Taylor, Lecturer and Emily Gribbin, Head of Student Administration, School of Health in Social Science.

Social media

Student Recruitment and Admissions increased use of social media and student blogging to represent the diversity of the student population/creating pre-arrival communities. (Commended by Student Support Services Annual Review)

Contact: Service Director

Postgraduate Research (PGR) student experience

QAA Scotland’s Focus On project includes a look at building a research community.

Focus On: PGR student experience

Student Conferences

The School of Chemistry’s annual Joseph Black Conference benefits research students in their research and professional development. Students have the opportunity to work collaboratively and establish industry connections. (Commended by Internal Review)

Contact: School Director of Quality, School of Chemistry

The annual research conference organised by the MA Physical Education and BA Childhood Practice organise an annual research conference for their students. This helps to create a sense of academic community.

Contact: School Director of Quality, Moray House School of Education and Sport

Peer Support and newsletters

Sustainable Development in the School of Social and Political Science has peer support schemes such as SDPALS, SocPALS, and Sustainable Development Families. Sustainable Development Families provides an environment to help develop friendships and support networks for students across different years. The programme also runs a weekly newsletter called ‘SD Briefs’ which includes information on of interest to its students and events. Students are encouraged to submit material for inclusion in the newsletter. (Commended by Internal Review)

Contact: School Director of Quality, School of Social and Political Science

Buddy System

The Institute of Energy Systems operates a ‘Buddy System’ where each new PhD student is allocated a ‘Buddy’ who is further on in their studies. The role of the ‘Buddy’ is to help new students settle in and become familiarised with the campus. The Buddy System also helps ensure new students do not feel isolated and have the opportunity to discuss any issues with someone who has had similar experiences. (Commended by Internal Review)

Contact: School Director of Quality, School of Engineering

Pre-arrival communities

Student Recruitment and Admissions increased use of social media and student blogging to represent the diversity of the student population and create pre-arrival communities. (Commended by Student Support Services Annual Review)

Contact: Service Director


Funding Challenge

A small grant writing competition open to all Clinical Sciences students and post-docs which supports development of community as well as graduate attributes.

Contact:  Professor Matthew Bailey, Programme Director and Kate Farrow, Deanery Projects and Student Experience Manager, Deanery of Clinical Sciences

Community space

The Chaplaincy provides an excellent space for students to engage with and have conversations on issues. (Commended by Student Support Services Annual Review)

Contact: The Chaplaincy


The School of Maths has appointed a Combined Degree Officer who has instigated initiatives such as lunchtime meetings and improved communication between partner Schools in order to build a sense of community and provide appropriate support.

Contact: School Director of Quality, School of Mathematics

Communities at distance

QAA Scotland’s Focus On project included a look at building learning communities at distance.

Focus On: Collaborative activity

Highlighted in School Annual Quality Reports

For more information contact the School Director of Quality.

  • Peer support for dissertations (Edinburgh Medical School)
  • Discussion board threads for workshops and conferences for staff and students to meet (Vets)
  • Staff postgraduate research teaching forum and annual event (Biomedical)
  • Fortnightly ‘Ted and tea’ talks for postgraduate taught students to discuss topics of interest with each other (Health in Social Science)
  • Blog and Twitter account for postgraduate taught students set up; William Robertson Cup (staff/student team competitions) and annual student recognition event to strengthen community; working party of staff/students set up to elicit further ideas (History Classics and Archaeology)
  • Programme of meetings for postgraduate tutors to support their teaching and build academic community (Philosophy Psychology and Language Sciences)
  • Research day for postgraduate students and continuing to build on commended academic community activities (Clinical Sciences)
  • Undergraduate peer support initiatives (Social and Political Science)
  • Year specific Facebook groups (Informatics)
  • Student-led innovations for exampleTED and tea talks (Health in Social Science)
  • Peer Assisted Learning (Informatics)
  • Online distance learning programmes academic community (Molecular Genetic and Population Health Science)
  • Appleton Tower development (Informatics)