Teaching delivery in semester one, 2020/2021
Information on the teaching experience you will have as an undergraduate student in the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences in semester one, 2020/21
Your safety and the safety of our staff are paramount, and we will be closely following Scottish Government guidelines. To ensure that we will be able to react quickly and responsively as the situation evolves, we have specially re-designed and adapted all of our courses, and our teaching in Semester 1 will be mostly online. This means that people who can’t make it to campus in Semester 1 will not be disadvantaged. However, we will offer additional (and optional) on-campus learning activities for students who are in Edinburgh, where Scottish Government guidelines permit. These may include drop-in Q&A sessions, staff office hours, and other activities that aren’t related to specific courses, depending on the course and year group, on space and physical distancing constraints, and on staff availability.
Each course will include a combination of different activities, designed so that you can interact with staff and each other, as well as engaging with the material. Examples of activities include pre-recorded videos, readings, exercises, small group activities, discussion boards, synchronous (live) events, and labs. Most if not all course readings will be available online.
This page provides more details of what to expect and how to access information about the courses you will be taking.
Getting ready for digital learning
We recognise that learning online will be a different way of studying for many of you, and want to reassure you that there will be a lot of support available. In particular, if you are new to studying with us, we encourage you to take our short self-enrol transition courses which are designed to help you prepare for studying at the University.
For returning students, there is some very useful guidance offered by the Institute for Academic Development.
The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is called Learn. All course information, and details about course activities, will be posted here, and this will be the main arena through which you will receive your learning content such as lecture recordings. Please familiarise yourself with the information below about Learn ahead of Welcome Week (14 September).
Please note that we may reach out to you if we see you are not engaging with Learn on a regular basis, as engagement is a key component of your learning.
During Welcome Week, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor (PT): a member of staff who can provide academic guidance (our Student Support Officers will help you with other issues, and should be your first point of contact for any concerns). There will be a series of group meetings in which you will meet your PT and other students. You can also request an individual meeting with your PT at any time.
If you are unable to be in Edinburgh in Semester 1, you will still be able to start your degree digitally and receive a quality learning experience, wherever you are in the world, and join us later. Please do advise your Personal Tutor and Course Organisers of your plans.
Each course will provide a set of activities. These may be live (also known as 'synchronous') teaching, usually accessed via digital tools such as Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft Teams, or non-live ('asynchronous' activity) through e.g. pre-recorded lectures or Discussion Boards available within Learn. Each course will have a mixture of delivery that will enable you to engage with course material, with the lecturers, and with each other. Lecturers will also be available to interact with you during regular scheduled office hours.
If live sessions are part of your course, Blackboard Collaborate will often be the platform through which you will interact live with your peers and the lecturer digitally. You may be required to first complete readings or solve problem-based questions which will then be discussed together. If your course requires small group synchronous activities, these may take place via Microsoft Teams.
If you are in Edinburgh, we aim to provide some in-person activities, subject to Scottish Government guidance and University building capacity. These will be optional extra activities such as Question and Answer sessions, or staff drop-in sessions.
Please note that all our teaching has been planned to ensure that all students are able to achieve the learning outcomes for their courses even if they are unable to attend any on-campus events due to, for example, being away from Edinburgh or isolating. If students are facing technical issues, and will miss synchronous online events, they should get in touch with their Course Organiser.
Asynchronous (non-live) teaching will include pre-recorded lectures and discussion boards. Learn's Discussion Board provides a platform for lecturers to create discussion 'threads' based on topics covered each week (e.g., identifying particular discussion points) and to invite you to post comments and discuss them with other students. You can also use this space to seek clarification on material covered in lectures etc. The lecturer will review the posts regularly, and provide a collated response to your comments and questions.
Regardless of any current adjustments to delivery, the vast majority of hours for every course you take is assigned to independent study. This has not changed - independent study is a crucial part of your learning at university, and you are required to do many hours of self-directed research and reading, and preparation and writing of assessments. Readings will include journal articles, chapters of books, etc. from the University's extensive online library database. You may well be recommended to read articles written by your lecturers, who are often leading researchers within their field. You may also be signposted to additional resources such as external videos and media, and news sites.
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. The Institute for Academic Development offers some very useful guidance on how to do this:
Each course has a number of Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credits. Each 20 credit course requires 200 notional learning hours. This means you should expect to spend 10-15 hours per week on each 20-credit course. The way that these hours will be spent will vary depending on the course, but will include independent study (see below) as well as activities prescribed on Learn.
None of the Semester 1 courses in LEL will have centrally timetabled exams. Assessments may take various forms, e.g. essays, reports, recorded video presentations, reflective journals, multiple-choice tests, and so on, which will be submitted digitally via Learn. Details of assessment requirements for each course will be available on Learn.
Planning and timetabling is still ongoing - you should receive your timetables at the latest by the week beginning 14 September. Additional activities may be arranged by individual course organizers or for whole programmes without appearing in the timetable - please keep checking Learn for this information. Given the asynchronous nature of much of your learning this semester, you will need to plan your time effectively so that you manage to complete all of the work required of you. You might want to set up your own schedule (e.g. Course A on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am-12pm and Tuesday and Thursday 1pm-4pm) to build some structure into your week. Contact your Personal Tutor for further guidance here.
Many students are concerned about timetable clashes. Please be reassured: much of the teaching will be asynchronous, and where live events do occur, there will often be numerous opportunities for engagement so that in most cases clashes should be avoidable. If you do end up with an unavoidable clash, you will be able to achieve all the learning outcomes for your courses without attending synchronous events.
Each School is planning its own approach to teaching and learning for Semester 1 so it is important to review information relating to your other subject. If you are studying a joint degree and based in another School, please feel free to get in touch with the following members of staff in PPLS who will happy to assist you with any queries that relate to the PPLS part of your degree:
In addition to the online teaching on individual courses, there will be activities (both in-person [on campus] and digitally) to help you connect with each other and with teaching staff. These will include things like writing workshops and other activities that will help you make the most of your learning experience.
Planning for Semester 2 is ongoing as we adjust to the evolving situation. We will keep you up-to-date with developments.
Find out more about the computing equipment you will need:
Find out more about our health and safety measures, accessing the library, social spaces and other buildings on-campus by visiting Campus Safety (Covid-19):
More information can be found on the PPLS Student Hub and on the PPLS FAQ’s:
If you have any questions, please let us know and we will reply as soon as we can: