Information Services

Expectations for Students

The University has several policies outlining expectations for students when engaging both online and offline. It’s important to take these into consideration in all your online interactions.

Online Etiquette and Expectations for Engagement

As a student, you’ll use multiple online and digital communication technologies throughout your studies. Email, discussion boards, Microsoft Teams, and Blackboard Collaborate are just some of the tools you’ll use to interact with your tutors and fellow students. It’s important to remember that the same expectations for how you conduct yourself as a member of the University community apply to both physical and digital spaces, even outside the virtual classroom.

As a starting point for online engagement, consider the following:

  • Treat all participants with dignity and respect. Support your fellow students as you want to be supported, even if your opinions differ.
  • Be polite, professional and inclusive. Address people as they wish to be addressed.
  • Use clear and concise language. Be respectful of each other’s time and attention.
  • Check your spelling and grammar but don’t chastise anyone for their mistakes. Remember that your fellow students might be anywhere in the world and English may not be everyone’s first language.
  • Use standard fonts optimised for online reading (sans serif, 12-14 pt. font).
  • Avoid typing in capitals as this may be interpreted as shouting.
  • Be careful with humour and sarcasm – not everything is clear when conveyed through text so it’s important to minimise chances for misinterpretation.
  • Be mindful of sharing personal information online – both yours and others’.

The following resources offer more information on netiquette for your online studies:

Understanding misconduct

The University has a zero-tolerance stance towards any form of harassment or bullying, including online misconduct. Examples of online harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Offensive language, racism and hate speech
  • Sexual harassment, including sexualised bullying and unwanted sexualisation
  • Intimate image abuse or revenge porn
  • Doxing – the publishing of someone's personal details online, often as a result of online shaming campaigns
  • Engaging in a cybermob or dogpiling – ganging up on someone in mass criticism
  • Message bombing – the intentional flooding of a user's online accounts with messages meant to limit or block their access to an operating system or platform
  • Failure to safeguard personal or confidential information
  • Trolling – purposely saying something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users
  • Orbiting – staying in someone's social media by liking and engaging with their posts, without ever actually reaching out for a genuine chat
  • Cyberstalking – using social media to harass, intimidate or frighten someone
  • Hacking – seeking to compromise digital devices or networks
  • Online impersonation

The Online Harassment Field Manual offers a comprehensive glossary of terms relating to online harassment and misconduct.

If you’re at all in doubt about what kinds of behaviour are strictly prohibited for members of the University community, Section 12 of the Student Code of Conduct (pp.4-5, linked below) provides a list of examples pertaining to both physical and virtual spaces. Please bear in mind that, as per the Code of Conduct, which applies to all students, the University may choose to investigate and take action on any reports of misconduct occurring online and in social media.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Online

The University is fully committed to fostering safe and inclusive spaces both across campus and online. Unfortunately, the internet was not created with equality, diversity and inclusion in mind, meaning we all have to make a conscious effort to promote these values and protect the most vulnerable members of our diverse and international community. 

Respect at Edinburgh Hub

This hub brings together information and guidance on the Dignity & Respect policy, the processes for raising and addressing concerns, and the support and training available. You can find up-to-date information on the University’s #NoExcuse campaign and the Students’ Association’s Liberation campaigns in the Respect at Edinburgh hub as well.

Respect at Edinburgh web hub

Information Security

The following policies outline how to keep your data and devices safe and secure, as well as appropriate use of the University network.

Information Security Minimum Required Reading

The InfoSec team have collated the minimum policies every student must read and comply with while computing as a University of Edinburgh student. These policies include the University’s Computing Regulations and Information Security Policy, as well as relevant laws that relate to both.

Information Security Minimum Required Reading

University Information Security Policy

University policy states that the information it is responsible for will be appropriately secured. The Information Security Policy provides a framework for how this will be done.

University of Edinburgh Information Security Policy

Guidance on How to Conform with Policy

University Computing Regulations

These regulations govern the use of all University computing and network facilities by staff, students and all authorised users. If you have any questions about what you're allowed to do while using a University network or device, be sure to consult these regulations.

University of Edinburgh Computing Regulations

Information Security BYOD (bring your own device) Guidance

Guidance when using your own device at work or when you manage the configuration of a computer yourself.

Using BYOD or Self-Managed Devices

Information about BYOD within Teaching Spaces

Social Media Use

University guidelines and advice for using social media as a member of the University of Edinburgh community.

University of Edinburgh Social Media Guidelines & Policy

Guidelines for those using social media in a work context, while representing the University. While the University encourages colleagues to engage, collaborate and innovate using social media, it is important to be mindful of the potential impact of your online engagements. This page also contains a link to the University's Social Media Policy, which applies to all staff.

University of Edinburgh social media guidelines

University of Edinburgh Policy on Employee Use of Social Media (PDF)

Information Security Social Media Advice

The University's Information Security team have put together some handy advice on the risks and benefits of using social media. Click on the link below for advice on how to prevent your social media posts working to your disadvantage.

Information Security Social Media Advice

Institute for Academic Development (IAD) e-Professionalism Guide

E-Professionalism refers to the way you engage yourself online in relation to your profession, including your attitudes, actions and your adherence to relevant professional codes of conduct. Find the IAD’s guidance on e-Professionalism below.

IAD e-Professionalism guide

General Policies and Regulations

When thinking about digital safety and citizenship and your own role within the University community, the following policies and regulations should be considered.

University Code of Student Conduct

This document sets out expectations for student behaviour and the procedures the University uses to resolve disciplinary infractions.

University of Edinburgh Code of Student Conduct

University Virtual Classroom Policy

This policy clarifies rights and responsibilities when delivering and recording teaching and learning using online communication and collaboration technologies. The policy covers a number of very important areas such as intellectual property, data protection and appropriate use of recordings.  It complements the lecture recording policy and is based on the same principles.

University of Edinburgh Virtual Classroom Policy

University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Policy

University Dignity & Respect Policy

This document sets out expectations for ensuring that all members of the University treat one another with dignity and respect.

University of Edinburgh Dignity & Respect Policy (PDF)

University Equality & Diversity Strategy

This document outlines the University’s strategy to ensure equality and diversity across all Schools and departments.

University of Edinburgh Equality & Diversity Strategy (PDF)

University Trans Equality Policy

This document outlines the University’s approach to providing support and understanding to those individuals who wish to take, or have taken, steps to present themselves in a gender different to their birth gender.

University of Edinburgh Trans Equality Policy (PDF)

Data Protection

The University is committed to data protection and supports the data protection rights of all those with whom it works including, but not limited to, staff, students, visitors, alumni and research participants.

University of Edinburgh Data Protection Policy

This document sets out the accountability and responsibilities of the University, its staff and its students to comply fully with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (“the GDPR”) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (“the DPA”).

University of Edinburgh Data Protection Policy

University Privacy Statement

This document outlines how the University processes your personal information and who this information is shared with.

University of Edinburgh Privacy Statement


© Victoria Madden, Shivani Rao, University of Edinburgh, 2022, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.