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Your education

Check the latest guidance on how you’ll learn and be assessed while the Coronavirus situation is ongoing.

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How you’ll be taught

Discover the different ways you will learn throughout the 2021/22 academic year below.

Coronavirus

As the pandemic continues, there is the potential for the situation to change and develop. We will keep you up to date on any adjustments we need to make to teaching delivery.

We will continue to follow Government guidelines and, if required, we will be able to deliver teaching and learning online to ensure you can meet your learning outcomes.

The primary method of teaching at Sussex is through an in-person experience. We will strive for this as much as possible.

We have also learnt from the pandemic valuable new ways of teaching and supporting you. Where these have been effective, we will be keeping them.

As long as the global pandemic continues, we will need to make some adjustments depending on the situation. But we are committed to ensuring that you will not be disadvantaged as a result of any changes to our ways of teaching.

Different ways of teaching

Even before the pandemic, there were various methods of learning.

We aim to provide a level of consistency while ensuring access and support for students who need to study remotely.

Large lectures

We are planning a return to large lectures.

This will only happen:

  • once permitted by Government requirements, and
  • following an updated risk assessment.

If there are restrictions on numbers of people, you will find out from your lecturer in advance whether you’ll attend in-person or view a live stream.

Small group teaching

We are planning for small group teaching to be primarily in-person, wherever possible. It may be necessary for some classes to be offered on-line and your tutor will plan groups depending on the needs of all students.

Practical sessions

Your course staff will plan these sessions carefully and following risk assessments. You’ll be told if there are extra personal protective equipment needs (such as masks).

Dual-mode teaching

This teaching method (sometimes called “simultaneous teaching”) will vary depending on the situation.

It means that some students turn up for a lecture or seminar while other students on the same module engage with it through a live stream.

However you need to access your learning, you’ll have the opportunity to watch a recording or turn up in-person, and achieve the same learning outcomes for your course.

Teaching terms defined

Throughout your course, you may hear your education referred to in the following ways:

  • asynchronous learning – learning that isn’t accessed at the same time by students on the same module. You can access resources (such as lecture recordings) and communicate at any time
  • blended learning – an established educational approach that includes both in-person teaching and online learning opportunities
  • contact – scheduled hours where you meet your tutor
  • in-person teaching – a teaching session delivered to a group of students on campus in a timetabled slot
  • dual-mode – sometimes referred to as “simultaneous delivery”, this is a teaching session delivered both in-person and online at the same time
  • synchronous learning – a teaching session delivered in real time.

Returning to campus

If you are yet to return to campus, check our roadmap out of lockdown.

If you are a student on a practical or practice-based course and are unable to return to campus, you will not be disadvantaged.

All students’ learning outcomes will still be met remotely and all assessments will continue to be online for the remainder of this academic year.

You should continue to stay at your current address and study remotely in line with the Government’s national lockdown restrictions, unless you are in an exceptional situation, such as where you do not have access to appropriate alternative accommodation, facilities or study space, or where you need to return for health or safety reasons.

We will continue to support you with educational, wellbeing and financial support.

Getting tested

You need to take two Lateral Flow Covid-19 tests if your School contacts you and you then choose to come on to campus.

Book your two Covid-19 tests at our testing centre as soon as possible. Take regular tests every week.

Important: Our priority is to make sure our campus is a safe place to live, work and study. See how we are keeping campus safe.

Getting more information

We’ll update you through weekly emails and the Student Hub as our plans develop – so keep checking your University email account.

If you have any specific questions about your course, contact your School office.

Your feedback on teaching and learning

We’ll continue responding to student feedback, providing opportunities for in-person teaching and other improvements such as:

  • Making it easier to follow the lesson when it’s being taught in person and online at the same time.
  • Improving the clarity of your Sussex Direct timetable and how to access your teaching.
  • Supporting tutors to share good practices for teaching in the current context (working in collaboration with students).
  • Clarifying that all assessments for the academic year will be online, giving greater certainty and flexibility for students.
  • Where it is safe to do so we’re also working to increase the number of social spaces on campus for students to learn together and to provide more opportunities for students to connect and meet in a Covid-secure manner. We know this is a really important aspect that we’re all missing.

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Rules of the classroom

Covid-19 safety guidelines will be displayed in all rooms. In particular:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before entering a room. Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to kill germs and help reduce the spread of coronavirus. You should also wash or sanitise your hands each time you readjust your face covering and when entering a building.
  • Wear a face covering. Face coverings are an effective way of limiting viral particles in your breath from being passed onto others. Wear a covering unless you have a medical exemption or you’re presenting within the marked zone at the front of the room.
  • Maintain safe social distancing. Coronavirus can be spread much quicker when people are closer together. Be especially mindful when entering or leaving to avoid congestion in large groups. Remain in marked seats only when undertaking group or paired work.
  • Do not relocate furniture – it should remain in the layout displayed at the front of the room. Also avoid moving between seats if possible.
  • Wipe down your desk when you arrive and leave. This helps kill any particles that may contain coronavirus. This includes ITS equipment (mouse and keyboard) and any shared items. Cleaning materials will be provided during taught sessions.
  • Avoid eating or drinking – if you need to drink, it should be from a closed container you return to your bag or pocket. Put rubbish in the bins provided at the end of the session.
  • Avoid sharing resources, such as paper, where possible and clean any items that need to be shared.
  • If you’re exempt from wearing a face covering, you can wear a lanyard – see information about face coverings and exemptions.

We’re encouraging all teaching staff to use face visors, which will be made available by the University. This allows easier communication during teaching.

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Monitoring your attendance

Download the SussexMobile App or add the browser-version link to your favourites. This may be used by some tutors to help record attendance at classes.

If you’re studying on a visa, we need to monitor your attendance for UKVI purposes. You can do this through the SussexMobile app. See our visa guidance for international students.

Students who can’t arrive for the start of term

If there are travel restrictions or reasons due to the pandemic, which mean that you can’t arrive for the start of term, you can study online until the time you are able to travel to join us on campus.

You can let us know about a reason preventing you from arriving at Sussex through the online registration process. If your circumstances change, it’s easy to update the information you’ve provided. You can do this through online registration or in Sussex Direct.

Students studying remotely will be able to access Canvas, our virtual learning environment, where you will find details of the learning and teaching of your course.

New and returning undergraduate or postgraduate students who can’t get here for the start of term can study online (with the exception of students in BSMS).

Postgraduate research students who can’t get here should contact their supervisor to discuss options and whether their research can be supported from a distance. See questions about starting in January 2021.

See more about arriving late if you’re a new student.

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Learning online

Monitor your Canvas site for details about your learning activities. You will find essential readings or preparatory tasks as well as details of scheduled contact – whether it's face-to-face or online. Where online synchronous contact is planned your Sussex Direct timetable will show the location as 'Online' and advise you to check Canvas for details.

As a starting point, we have guidance on the technology you need to study with us. We also advise you download the SussexMobile app to your smartphone.

Other Sussex materials designed specifically for you include Skills Hub, which has tips on time management, essay writing, referencing guidance and advice on digital wellbeing.

See our guidance about assistive technology for students, such as support for learners with literacy difficulties.

Important: Follow the guidelines for online behaviour [PDF 26KB] to help everyone learning online have the best experience.

We understand that the availability of study space, access to a good internet connection and technology is not the same for everyone. Ofcom has provided a list of tips to improve broadband speed, such as connecting to your router using a cable instead of relying on wi-fi.

If you are finding things hard, we want to help you. Contact your School office if you have issues with online learning.

Your wellbeing will always be our priority. We took online learning measures because of Covid-19 as we believed they were best for our community. We’re always evaluating the best options for you.

Software

You can install the full Microsoft Office 365 suite of products – including Outlook for email, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access and Publisher – on personally-owned computers and mobile devices at no cost, and access 1TB of free storage. Download the apps for access on the move at all times. Find out about installing Office 365.

There are more than 100 different software titles you can use, particularly to help with learning online. You can get all of these packages through the software list. Use your Sussex email to sign up. The list includes End Note, Zoom, SPSS, Solidworks, Matlab and MindView.

Zoom

We have a special licence for the video and chat platform Zoom. You can use it to virtually meet students and staff. You can do this while conducting live chats and recording sessions to view later. Zoom will be used extensively for remote teaching so we recommend you download and install the apps on all your devices.

If you already have your own Zoom account, you can keep using it however the University’s institutional account offers some distinct advantages: meetings can be longer than the standard 40 minutes and up to 300 people can be included at a time. Unlimited cloud storage is also available.

See how to access your Sussex Zoom account and log in.

Answering questions and keeping in touch

Kelly Coate, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at Sussex, will be in touch regularly by email. Kelly’s messages will include answers to questions and give clarification on new guidance and procedures.

You can also follow developments around your education and other aspects of your student life by checking the Student Hub for updates.

Recording of teaching

Our mix of online and face-to-face teaching activities involves recording lectures or seminars to support students' learning. We do this in line with our policy on the recording of teaching activities and other uses of Panopto.

All recordings are stored securely for only as long as necessary, then deleted. See how we process personal data for education purposes.

If you have any concerns about your personal data, you can contact our Data Protection Officer. Email dpo@sussex.ac.uk.

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Using the Library

In response to government guidance, you can only visit the Library for essential use. It operates using the Click and Collect service during its spring opening hours.

Library resources can also be accessed remotely. Library Search is a good place to start and on your Library Subject Guides you’ll find the highest quality academic resources for your subject area.

The Library also offers one-to-one support remotely. You can book a time using this online form. Support, including online tutorials, is also available through Skills Hub.

Library Chat is available if you have any questions, or you can email library@sussex.ac.uk or check the Library’s common questions.

You need to wear a face covering inside the Library, unless you are exempt from wearing one.

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Your grades

For exams or other assessments, find out about handing in work or sitting exams.

Important: To make sure that students have enough time to prepare between sits or resits in the A3 assessment period, we will be extending the duration of the A3 assessment period by one week. The A3 period will therefore run from 9 August to 28 August 2021. Further updates will follow on this in the coming weeks.

Your tutors will make sure you are assessed in the most appropriate way.

Towards the end of Semester 2, we will be providing support for students with their revision and assessments.

If you have a learning impairment, check our assistive technology guidance for students.

Exceptional circumstances

If you have experienced something personally that has impacted your assessments, we have expanded our exceptional circumstances process. There are a wide range of reasons for which you can submit exceptional circumstances, and if you cannot gain evidence for these you can submit a self-declaration form instead.

See our guidance on claiming exceptional circumstances.

The No Detriment Policy - Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q1. What is the No Detriment Policy?

    The No Detriment Policy has been designed to ensure that where possible, students will not be disadvantaged in the awarding of grades as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The No Detriment Policy has been designed to focus on mitigating the impact of the pandemic on assessments taken in both Semester 1 and Semester 2, particularly at the cohort level, and is backed up by the existing Exceptional Circumstances process which has been expanded and includes a range of COVID-related reasons that can be self-certified.

    Measures that we have taken to support assessments in relation to the pandemic include:

    • increased capacity for exam boards to review module grade averages where they are out of line with previous cohorts (see Q3)
    • an expanded range of Exceptional Circumstance reasons that students can apply for with, if necessary, self-certification (see Q12)
    • flexibility in exam assessments by continuing to hold on-line exams within windows of at least 24-hours (including, depending on assessment type, dedicated time for preparing your exam or flexibility to submit them within the 24-hour window)
    • departments have adjusted all of your course content and assessments to ensure that they are adapted to online learning
    • if you were studying with us last academic year, your Spring 2019/20 modules during the Covid-19 pandemic will also have had the 2019/20 No Detriment Policy applied to them where eligible
    • additionally, our regulations relating to condoned, compensated or trailed credit, and classification borderline consideration provide powers to exam boards to support students, where criteria are met, and are described here: Your degree explained.
  • Q2. I heard that there would be two separate phases to the No Detriment Policy this year?

    The University took the decision that a No Detriment Policy would be required for this year following the re-introduction of a national lockdown in early January 2021 which coincided with the winter assessment period and as acknowledgement of the general disruption that many students were experiencing as a consequence. The first phase of the No Detriment Policy was approved by Senate and communicated to all students in February 2021.

    The University has continued to monitor the impact of the pandemic and acknowledges that many students are continuing to be adversely impacted by the pandemic either here in the UK or elsewhere across the globe. At the end of Semester 1 the University committed to review the situation for Semester 2 assessments. This was a careful process in which a wide range of options were considered and assessed for their likely impact (including parity across cohorts, whether they would cause unintended consequences, whether they replicated already existing exam board powers, and protecting fairness and support), after which the decision was taken that we should extend the No Detriment Policy applied in Semester 1 to assessments taken in Semester 2 in order to mitigate the continuing impact of the pandemic. This approach was approved by Senate in late May 2021.

  • Q3. How will the No Detriment Policy consider module grades?

    The No Detriment Policy looks to mitigate impact on all modules taken in the 2020-21 academic year and will look closely at the performance of all students on a module (the cohort) and decide whether this year’s performance is out of line with previous performance on the module.

    To do this Module Assessment Boards (MABs) will be provided with statistical data to enable them to review the performance of the cohort currently taking a module by comparing this year’s average marks against the historical mean for the module. Where there is evidence that the performance of the current cohort has been impacted the MAB may consider using one of the following strategies to mitigate the impact:

    • Reweight questions within an individual examination paper
    • Zero weight a question
    • Reweight the different assessment modes for the module
    • Scaling of marks.

    In deciding which strategy to adopt, the MAB will be required to maintain academic standards and ensure that appropriate learning outcomes can continue to be met.

    Where a MAB decides to implement one of these strategies, the Chair of the MAB will consult with the relevant External Examiner and then make a recommendation for approval to the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students.

  • Q4. My provisional mark on Sussex Direct was a fail grade. Is it possible that my mark could be changed to a pass because of the No Detriment Policy?

    It is possible that where a Module Assessment Board decides to implement one of the above strategies described in question 2 a provisional fail mark for a module may be adjusted to a pass. Your adjusted mark will be visible on Sussex Direct and will also show on your Transcript.

  • Q5. What happens if, following the application of the No Detriment Policy, my mark is now in the compensation zone?

    Where a mark has been increased, through the application of one of the strategies described in question 2, and is now within the compensation zone (35 – 39% for undergraduate modules at Level 3-6 and 45 – 49% for integrated masters and postgraduate modules at level 7), standard University regulations will apply and the Progression and Award Board (PAB) which sits in the summer, and which will be see all your marks for the year, will apply compensated credit up to a maximum of 30 credits, where the criteria have been met. Find out more about the use of Compensation.

  • Q6. What happens if there are not 3 years of historical data for my module?

    Where a module does not have 3 years of historical data, the mean will be calculated on the basis of those years that are available. If a module is new and running for the first time this year, the 2019/2020 Departmental mean at the appropriate level for the module will be used as the point of comparison.

  • Q7. Do I have to apply for No Detriment?

    No, the Module Assessment Board will automatically consider the performance of each module against the historical mean and apply the strategies described in question 2 where appropriate.

  • Q8. Was No Detriment considered during marking?

    No. All assessments have been adapted to be on-line, and all modules have been designed to integrate on-line assessments. Marking will have been conducted using standard marking criteria, with all modules being subject to internal and external moderation, in accordance with University regulations, to ensure that academic standards are being maintained.

  • Q9. What can I do if the No Detriment Policy has not been applied to my module?

    The University expects that where there is evidence that the performance of your cohort is out of line with previous performance on the module, the Module Assessment Boards (MAB) will consider recommending application of one of the strategies outlined in question 2. This recommendation will be based on statistical evidence, academic judgement and discussion with External Examiners. If the MAB determines that the marks for the cohort do not warrant one of the strategies outlined in question 2, this aspect of the No Detriment Policy will not be applied.

    Following the MAB your marks for this academic year will be considered by the Progression and Award Board (PAB) in the Summer where a decision regarding progression to the next stage of your course or an award will be made. If you are unhappy with the decision of the PAB, you may submit an academic appeal. However, you should be aware that there are limited grounds upon which you can appeal and should read this information carefully in advance.

  • Q10. Why is the No Detriment Policy different to last year?

    The No Detriment Policy for this year is necessarily different from that implemented last year. This is fundamentally because of timing. The 2019-20 Safety Net was introduced following the first national lockdown in March 2020 when the University had been required to shift to online learning and to adapt what would have been in-person assessments to online alternatives part way through the semester. At the point that this switch was necessary, the assessments for Semester 1 and been completed and the marks assured by examinations boards. The average of the Semester 1 marks formed the basis of the 2019-20 Safety Net policy.

    This year, the decision to introduce a No Detriment Policy was taken following the Government decision to reimpose a national lockdown in January 2021, which coincided with the winter or A1 assessment period. There were therefore no pre-existing marks from this academic year which could be used for a Safety Net Policy and the University therefore needed to design an alternative No Detriment Policy. This year’s policy also needed to take into consideration that the delivery of teaching and assessment had been adapted for online delivery this year.

  • Q11. Why was the No Detriment Policy not announced in one go?

    Last year our No Detriment Policy could be announced in one go, as it came towards the end of the academic year. This year we have taken a more comprehensive approach, providing a range of measures to be applied across the year.

    We initially focussed our attention on mitigating the impact on Semester 1 assessments. We then undertook a further review and consultation to assess the evidence of impact on attainment from the Semester 1 MABs, the ongoing impact of the pandemic on Semester 2 and on Semester 2 assessments to determine the most appropriate course of action.

  • Q12. I’ve encountered problems over and above the general COVID-19 related disruption. How will this be taken into account?

    If you have experienced something personally that has impacted your assessments, we have expanded our exceptional circumstances process. There are a wide range of reasons for which you can submit exceptional circumstances, and if you cannot gain evidence for these you can submit a self-declaration form instead.

    See our guidance on claiming exceptional circumstances.

    Please be aware that that there are deadlines in place for the submission of Exceptional Circumstances claims. If you are impeded in submitting a claim by the relevant deadline, you may submit an academic appeal.

  • Q13. My Exceptional Circumstances claim has been approved. What happens next?

    If your Exceptional Circumstances claim is accepted, the Progression and Award Board (which meets after the Semester 2 assessments are complete) will consider offering you a sit (for an uncapped mark) in the resit period in August.

  • Q14. What are other Universities doing?

    Each University decides whether it will implement a No Detriment Policy or not, and many have decided against doing so this year. Of those that have, each University develops its own approach based on their specific context and normal processes. This makes direct comparisons between approaches really difficult. For example, many institutions that don’t have the same semester structure as Sussex and who don’t have assessments in January have decided not to introduce a No Detriment Policy for this year. In designing our No Detriment Policy we have drawn on advice and guidance from sector quality bodies and the regulator and have been careful to ensure that the academic standards of your degree are upheld.

  • I have a question that has not been answered above.

    If you have a question that isn’t answered by the above, please contact your School Office who may be able to assist you or refer you to the appropriate team.

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Placements

If you have any queries about a placement you’re on, email placements@sussex.ac.uk.

If you had your placement period curtailed by your employer as a result of Covid-19 (for example, being furloughed), we will recognise your placement year, providing you have completed:

  • a sufficient level of placement learning to demonstrate the learning outcomes of the placement (at least 50% of expected weeks)
  • the required assessments
  • all learning logs
  • your final learning summary.

If you are concerned you do not meet these criteria, email placements@sussex.ac.uk.

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Contacting your School office

You can keep in touch with your School office with enquiries about your course via email.

See a list of School email addresses.