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 have 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, 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, where it is possible, we will offer additional (and optional) on-campus activities for students who are in Edinburgh. These may include drop-in Q&A sessions, staff office hours, or other activities that aren’t related to specific courses. They will depend on the course and year group, space and physical distancing constraints, and staff availability.
Each course will include a combination of different online activities, designed so that you can interact with staff and each other, as well as engaging with the material. Examples of these activities include pre-recorded videos, readings, small group exercises, 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.
You will typically need a laptop and broadband WiFi to get the best online experience. There’s information and guidance about this, including how to borrow a laptop if you don’t currently own one, on the University IT Guidance page.
The psychology course handbooks are available at the following links. These handbooks give you a year-by-year overview of the Psychology programmes and are the best place to find out about general issues such as BPS accreditation, or which topics are covered in each year.
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 includes a set of activities. These may be live (also known as ‘synchronous’) teaching, or non-live (‘asynchronous’ activity) through e.g., pre-recorded lectures available within Learn. Note that ‘asynchronous’ doesn’t mean passive learning; you will often be asked to complete tasks, such as answering quiz questions or contributing to discussion boards. It simply means that the activity is designed so that you can engage with it at a time which suits you.
If live (‘synchronous’) sessions are part of your course, you will interact live with your peers and the lecturer digitally, for example in tutorials (planned sessions) or ‘office hours’ (informal sessions in which you can talk to your teachers about the courses you are taking and any questions you may have). You may be required to first complete readings or solve problem-based questions which will then be discussed together.
Asynchronous and synchronous classes will be delivered using a standard set of university tools. Where possible, synchronous online events will be recorded, to make them accessible if you have technical or other issues with online attendance.
If you are in Edinburgh, there may be the opportunity for 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.
Regardless of whether you are taught online or on campus, 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 also be signposted to additional resources such as external videos and media, and news sites.
Each course has a number of Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credits. Each 20-credit course is designed to take 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 as well as hours spent online and on Learn.
All assessment during Semester 1 will be submitted digitally through Learn. This might be in the form of essays, reports, recorded video presentations, reflective journals, multiple-choice tests, and so on.
Because things have changed rapidly over the summer, 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 an eye out for information on Learn.
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 Sociology and Psychology, your degree technically “belongs” to the School of Social and Political Science, and they should be your first port of call for information (but Dr Tom Booth, Teaching Director in Psychology, should be able to answer any Psychology-specific queries).
In addition to the online teaching on individual courses, we hope to hold activities (either online or on-campus as possible) to help you connect with each other and with teaching staff. These will give you the opportunity to e.g., 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.
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):
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: