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
We’ve been working very hard throughout the last few months to prepare for the new academic year and to make sure that we give you the best teaching and learning experience that we can. 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 re-designed and adapted all of our courses to run with recorded lectures (which will be available to everyone, regardless of whether they are in Edinburgh or not), and synchronous tutorials (which will be held both online and in-person). Because the physical distancing requirements and health and safety requirements set by government significantly reduce classroom capacity, even those students in Edinburgh may have some of their philosophy tutorials online. But as much as possible will be in-person, and full details will be given at the start of each course, subject of course to any changes in public health guidelines that may develop as the semester progresses.
This page provides more details of what to expect, especially if you are studying online, 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 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.
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.
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.
Blackboard Collaborate will be the main 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.
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 synchronous events due to, for example, being away from Edinburgh, isolating, or facing technical issues
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:
In addition to the teaching on individual courses, there will be activities (both in-person and digitally) to help you connect with each other and with teaching staff. These will give you the opportunity to discuss the challenges and successes of the coming year, get tips, advice, and support from your peers and lecturers, and maybe even learn something you wouldn’t learn in a course.
All assessment during Semester 1 will be submitted digitally. This might be in the form of essays, reports, recorded video presentations, reflective journals, multiple-choice tests, and so on.
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.
Planning and timetabling is still ongoing. You should receive your timetable at the latest by the end of Welcome Week. Additional activities may be arranged by individual course organisers or for whole programmes without appearing in the timetable, please look out for this information in Learn.
During Welcome Week, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor - a member of staff within your subject area 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). You will have the opportunity to meet with your PT and other students in group meetings, and you are also welcome to request individual PT meetings.
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 your joint degree belongs to another School, please feel free to get in touch with the following members of academic staff in Philosophy, who will be happy to assist you with any PPLS-specific queries:
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 our health and safety measures, accessing the library, social spaces and other buildings on-campus by visiting Campus Safety (Covid-19):
Get in touch
If you have any questions, please let us know and we will reply as soon as we can: