School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Postgraduate teaching 2020

Information on the teaching experience you will have as a postgraduate taught student at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Hybrid Teaching

Here at the School we have been working extremely hard throughout the Covid-19 crisis to prepare for the new academic year. The safety of you and our staff is paramount. Therefore, in response to public health and Scottish Government guidelines, we have developed a 'hybrid' approach for teaching and learning. This will be used throughout the School in 2020–21. The exact balance between on campus and digital teaching may change over the year, as we adapt to changing conditions.

Hybrid teaching is a flexible blend of digital and on campus learning, where physical distancing requirements allow. In practical terms, this means that if you are away from Edinburgh for part of the academic year, we will use technology to keep you fully engaged with the School and class cohort (socially and intellectually) despite the physical distance, until you are able to join us. If you can be in Edinburgh, then the University will be welcoming you on campus for some in-person classes where possible - in particular through core courses - and using that same technology for some aspects of your teaching. Teaching will be supported by expanded digital resources, as well as academic and pastoral support.

Our hybrid model allows us to respond quickly to the evolving health situation, and requires all of us (staff and students alike) to pull together and engage positively to ensure we all have the best teaching and learning experience possible.


We will provide you with a timetable, however planning for hybrid teaching and timetabling is ongoing. As such, the exact learning and teaching hours are subject to change. Hybrid classes will be arranged at the beginning of semester by the course organisers.

If you have any specific questions, please contact the Course Organiser directly.

Virtual Learning Environment: Learn

For a number of years, the University of Edinburgh has been using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) known as Learn. This is the platform by which all students receive their programme and course information and learning material. It continues to be the main area through which you will receive your learning content.

We are running an online introduction to the virtual learning environment during Welcome Week. Join the session 

About Learn

Guidance for Students: Using online learning tools 


All lectures will be pre-recorded and delivered digitally via Learn, so wherever you are in the world, you can watch at a time that is convenient for you. The recordings will be available to you for the duration of the course, but you will be expected to watch the lectures during the teaching week that they are relevant.


These will take the form of live 'synchronous' sessions taught via Blackboard Collaborate, or equivalent, and may be recorded for those who cannot attend. There will be non-live elements, such as discussion forums, and there may be specific off-line tasks for those unable to attend the live sessions.  This mixture of delivery will enable students, whether digitally or on-campus, to connect with and within courses. All essential reading for seminars and coursework will be made available to you electronically in Learn.  All essential reading for seminars and coursework will be available to you electronically.

Information on Blackboard Collaborate, the university’s supported virtual classroom/meeting service

Synchronous (Live)

These are live classes, delivered either digitally (via Blackboard Collaborate, or equivalent) or in-person on campus for your core courses. Blackboard Collaborate will be the main platform through which you will engage in live synchronous interaction with your peers and course organiser. You may be required to complete prior reading or solve problem-based questions which will then be discussed together. Course organisers will encourage you to interact, through the chat, audio, video, or whiteboard facilities. They may use the breakout room facility to create smaller learning groups.

Asynchronous (Non-live)

These will be usually be delivered through Learn's Discussion Board function. Course organisers may create 'threads' based on topic areas covered, perhaps identifying particular discussion points, and invite you to post comments on those points together with your peers. You can also use this space to seek clarification on topics and learning content.

On Campus Teaching

While physical distancing measures remain in place, the occupant capacity of our teaching rooms is greatly reduced. Where it is safe to do so, the School will ensure that some campus contact is delivered at programme level for all of our programmes, for those students who can be in Edinburgh, with priority being given to the following:

  • Core courses
  • Lab teaching;
  • Language teaching;
  • Teaching requiring specialist software which is only accessible to students on University PCs


All assessment will be submitted digitally through Learn. This may include essays, reports, recorded video presentations, reflective journals or discussion forum posts etc.

Student Independent Study

It is important to remember, regardless of any current adjustments to delivery, the majority of hours for the courses you take is assigned to independent study. This has not changed. You are required to do self-directed research and reading, and preparation and writing of assessments.

However, we do recognise that hybrid learning will be a different way of studying for many of you. The courses you study will have a weekly structure with content you are required to engage with, and it is important that you follow this structure and establish a routine. There is some very useful guidance on how to study:

Institute for Academic Development: Hybrid learning and teaching


We will support you via an ongoing induction throughout the semester, which includes workshops such as ‘Introduction to Graduate Study in Edinburgh,’ ‘Transitioning from UG to PG Study’ and ‘Stepping up to hybrid learning’ offering lots of tips and advice.

Personal Tutor

You can expect to have individual online meetings with your Personal Tutor and online group meetings with your Programme Directors and the Deputy Postgraduate Director (Taught Masters Programmes).

Graduate School Office

At the beginning of the academic year 20/21 physical distancing is still in place, in line with Scottish Government and public health advice on preventing the spread of Covid-19. While this is the case students should access our local Graduate School Office by email in the first instance,

Our Graduate School Office staff are working 9-5, Monday to Friday as normal. If your query cannot be resolved by email they will set up an online appointment with you. Online appointments will be arranged via Microsoft Teams. The Graduate School Team also have dedicated time throughout the week to set up an in-person appointment with you on campus if your query cannot be resolved by email or via an online meeting.

Out of hours support (out of office hours during the week or any time at the weekend) is available through the University Security 24/7:

Contact number: 0131 650 2257

Out of hours support

Student Disability Service

Please make contact with the Student Disability Service, to discuss any support needs relating to a disability, learning difference or health condition that may impact your studies.


Please see Library Services Update 2020-2021 for current service updates.

Guidance on Recommended Student Technology

Find out about the type of technology you might need to ensure you get the best possible teaching expereince, wherever you are in the world.

Recommended student technology

Short transition courses

The University will be offering a number of short courses in September to support your transition to hybrid learning, from helping you achieve your academic and career goals, to moving successfully into employment or further study.

Postgraduate transition courses

Laboratory access and booking process for Postgraduate Research  

The laboratories are open and can be booked for postgraduate research. Before access is allowed for any researcher, they must attend a short Health & Safety induction. To book lab time, students should email their request to Andy Barlow ( and copy in Robin Bendrey ( stating which laboratory, how much time is needed, and preferred days. Allocation decisions will be managed in a way to ensure safe systems of working while enabling appropriate access based on individual needs. 

PhD Students

We will work to ensure that you can engage with your research and supervision wherever you are in the world. If you are able to be in Edinburgh, then we look forward to welcoming you, on campus where possible and using digital technology for most aspects of your supervision whilst physical disctancing restrictions remain in place. The exact balance between on campus and online contact may change over the year, as we adapt to changing conditions.

While the William Robertson Wing will reopen in advance of the new semester, social distancing measures mean that the capacity of our building remains limited. Initially, we encourage you to work on your PhD programme at home unless your home working environment is difficult, whereby we are inviting you to apply for one of the limited number of study space desks in the building for those in the greatest need. Please contact the Graduate School Office for further details.

If you have any questions please contact your supervisor who will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Further Information

If you would like more information, please contact the Graduate School Office: