School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Undergraduate teaching 2020

Information on the teaching experience you will have as an undergraduate student at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Flexible Learning Week

Flexible Learning Week begins on the 15th February. In HCA, we’ve created a fantastic set of afternoon sessions aimed at giving you vital skills to improve your skills and performance in assessments, and to help you think about your future careers. You even get a chance to hear about the career paths of some of your lecturers. The sessions will be held via Collaborate and the links to all the talks and Q&A sessions will be available on the Academic Skills section of the UG Students in HCA LEARN pageThe skills events are aimed at pre honours and the careers sessions are aimed at honours but they are open to all.

Monday 15th

12.30 pm Careers – feeling positive, taking action (Helen Stringer, Careers Service)

2.30 pm Library Resources (Caroline Stirling, Academic Support Librarian, HCA)

Tuesday 16th

2pm How to Write a History Essay (Alasdair Raffe, Sarah Thomson, HCA)

Wednesday 17th

12.00 noon How to Write a Classics Essay (Calum Maciver, HCA)

2.30 pm An Introduction to the Institute for Academic Development (Lesley Kelly, IAD)

3.00 pm Coping with your Studies: Strategies for Writing, Reading, & Time Management (Aaron Allen, IAD)

Thursday 18th

3.00 pm Careers in Archives (Tessa Spencer & Robin Urquhart, the National Records of Scotland)

3.30 pm An Introduction to the Writing Centre (Louise Blanke, HCA)

4.00 pm The Writing Centre presents -  live marking of a Classics essay (Thaddeus Thorp, HCA)

4.30 pm The Writing Centre presents - live marking of a History essay (Claire Aubin, HCA)

5.00 pm The Writing Centre presents -  live marking of an Archaeology essay (Guillermo Díaz De Liaño Del Valle, HCA)

Friday 19th

2.00 pm How to Write an Archaeology Essay (Catriona Pickard, HCA)

3.00 pm How did I get here? Career trajectories in History, Classics and Archaeology (Robin Bendrey, Mike Carr, Lucy Grig, Meghan Hunt, Joanne Rowland, HCA)


Hybrid Teaching

Here at the School we have been working extremely hard throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to prepare for the new academic year. We will be ready to teach, and students can expect the same level of support we always provide, albeit in a different way. The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority so whilst we navigate physical distancing guidelines, we shall be taking a ‘hybrid’ approach to teaching in the academic year 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 close to us (socially and intellectually) despite the physical distance, until you are able to join us. If you can be in Edinburgh, then we will be welcoming you on campus for some in-person classes 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.


You will have a timetable, however planning for hybrid teaching and timetabling is ongoing. As such, the exact learning and teaching hours are subject to change.

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.

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. All lectures will be timetabled, and you are encouraged to watch them during the teaching week that they are relevant in order that you are then able to engage in the tutorials.

Tutorials, Seminars and Discussion Groups

These may take the form of live 'synchronous' activity, or non-live or 'asynchronous' activity. Some tutorials and all seminars will be taught live 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 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 tutorials, 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 in-person on campus, though these will be limited whilst physical distancing restrictions remain in place. Blackboard Collaborate will be the main platform through which you will engage in live synchronous interaction with your peers and the lecturer. 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, to connect on-campus and off-campus students during the semester

Asynchronous (Non-live)

These will be usually be delivered using some of Learn's many different functions, such as discussion board forums. 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.

There will be no exams for Pre-honours courses.

There will be no Honours exams in December, but some Semester 1 Honours courses may have exams in the summer. Any exams held will be open book, and conducted over an extended period.

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. There is some very useful guidance on how to study from the Institute for Academic Development.

Hybrid learning and teaching


We will support you via an ongoing induction throughout the first semester, which includes workshops such as ‘Stepping up to hybrid learning’ and you will find helpful resources on the Learn page ‘UG students in HCA’, which has been developed to contain lots of tips and advice. Once you have access to Learn, you will be automatically enrolled on to UG students in HCA, which you will find in your course list.

Personal tutor

You can expect to have regular virtual meetings with your Personal Tutor and surgeries with the Senior Tutor and the Undergraduate Director will also take place.

Student Support

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 student support service by email in the first instance, or via the phone numbers on our website.

Our student support team are working 9-5, Monday to Friday as normal. They also have dedicated time throughout the week to set up an appointment with you if your query cannot be resolved by email. In order to resolve your query quickly appointments will be online, unless there is a particular need to hold them on campus. Online appointments will be arranged via Microsoft Teams.

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 

Peer support

Although we know that learning will look quite different at HCA this year, our student-led peer support teams will continue to facilitate events and workshops to provide you with academic and pastoral support. Both ArchPALS and HC (History and Classics) Peer Support offer a wide programme of activities, from essay writing techniques to beginning archaeological fieldwork, so that you can connect with and receive guidance from your fellow students. Make sure you follow our social media channels to find out about any upcoming events!

Email HC Peer Support -

HC Peer Support Facebook page

ArchPALS Facebook page

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 prepare for university, and developing your library, digital and academic communication skills.

Undergraduate transition courses

Further Information

If you would like more information, please contact the Student Support Office: