As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to ensure that your degree programme can be safely delivered, we are writing to update you on how the College is planning to support a safe return to study and on how we intend to deliver your programme in 2021-22. 

You should each have had an email from us confirming your project allocations for next year.  You are expected to be in London from the start of the autumn term and for the whole of the 2021-22 academic year in order that you can attend on-campus activities, though, as noted in our email, we recommend you get in touch with your supervisors as early as possible to discuss requirements for your in-person and on-site project activities We plan to deliver your programme through a combination of in-person and online teaching activities (multi-mode), with a strong emphasis on prioritising your time on site.  

We are planning for the most crucial and engaging learning opportunities to be delivered in-person and without social distancing in place. We anticipate UK government guidelines will support this decision by the time you arrive for the new academic year.  Large group teaching may be hosted online when this method is considered to be educationally beneficial to students, and when it is clear that online mode will reduce the risk of sustained COVID-19 transmission as our community emerges from the pandemic.  

We will use our experience of our past academic year when deciding how best to timetable your teaching. 

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance of on-campus and online teaching may be subject to change. However, we share students’ hopes that we will be able to offer on-campus learning activities consistently throughout the coming year. 

Further details on the mix of on-campus and online activities and support available to you are provided in the programme delivery section of this letter.   

Institutional guarantees 

General

Our priority is for you to experience everything our campuses and London have to offer.  However, you will be expected to adhere to the safety measures in place for the College.  These may include requirements to undertake regular testing and to report the outcome of this testing to the College and strong expectations that you will have been vaccinated.  Adherence to the required safety measures will ensure that we can keep the College community safe and satisfy the UK government and UK Public Health Authorities so that we can continue with in-person on-campus activities, wherever possible. 

If there is a further escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, then, in line with Public Health advice from the UK Government, we may be required to suspend all on-campus activity. In the event of suspension of on-campus activity, in-person activities will be delivered to all students online, or as an online alternative, that delivers the same approved learning outcomes.  No additional fees will be charged if the programme cannot be delivered within the advertised timeframe. 

Details for your programme are set out in this communication.  

Attendance and Delivery of Teaching

As you can appreciate, it is not entirely clear what circumstances we will be working with for the coming academic year, but we are planning the delivery of your programme on the assumption of a phased return to substantial amounts of on-campus teaching over the 2021-22 academic year. 

To accommodate this, we may plan to deliver your programme initially through a combination of on-campus and online activities (multi-mode), the balance of which will be reviewed and adjusted as circumstances change.  This means you will be required to attend the College in-person from the start of your programme, with no delayed arrival permitted. 

We understand there are some reasons you may be prevented from being able to travel to London for the start of the academic year.  In these circumstances this programme will unfortunately not be in a position to offer you a remote alternative to any on-campus activities which you might miss.  You should contact the Faculty Education Office (feo.bmb@imperial.ac.ukif you anticipate not being able to travel to London for the start of term and would like to discuss your options with us. 

As a community, we have learnt a lot from this past year.  Our combination of cutting-edge technology and academic excellence resulting in some new and creative ways of learning and engaging with each other on campus and remotely.  Many of the changes made to the learning experience have worked well, and therefore we may retain some of these approaches in the new academic year to enhance your overall experience on campus, and these are specified in this communication. 

In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity due to an escalation of the pandemic, we will deliver some content online and, if necessary, reschedule activities which cannot be delivered online later in the 2021-22 academic year. Depending on the length and severity of any such scenario, if we are unable to deliver content remotely or re-schedule activities requiring in-person attendance (e.g. labs/practicals etc.) within the 2021-22 academic year to meet the learning outcomes of the programme, we may have to extend the length of your programme, with no extra fees being charged.  You will also be given the option to exit the programme and provided with a transcript of the credits achieved together with an exit award, where appropriate.  

Assessment 

Year 3 of the BMB programme is primarily assessed through a mix of in-course assessments.  We do not expect to make any changes to your written assessments. Oral assessments may be delivered online rather than on-campus – we will provide more information closer to the time. 

Safety

You will be required to follow the safety requirements put in place on campus and in all College buildings (including halls) to ensure we keep the campuses and the Imperial community safe and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, particularly in our ability to deliver your degree programme and to offer you a full student experience. 

There will be requirements and expectations placed on you and other members of the College community to follow the safety measures put in place by the UK government and national and local public health authorities.You can view our current guidance for our community on our website. This may vary once we begin the academic year, but is likely to include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the results of this testing to the College, and an expectation that you will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or that you will take up the opportunity once in the UK, if vaccination is not available in your home country.  Failure to follow the safety measures and any reporting requirements may result in restrictions being imposed on the delivery of your degree programme and on your access to the wider student experience. 

Student Experience 

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), Imperial has been working with your Students’ Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience in all eventualities.  We identified key pillars of the wider student experience: academic experience; research culture and environment; amenities and accommodation; student community; wellbeing support; co-curricular activities and extra-curricular activities.  Information on how we will deliver these, along with information on our Library Services and College-wide induction arrangements, considering current social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our COVID-19 pages. 

Whilst the Student Union activities may not be quite the same as normal, the dedicated Imperial College School of Medicine Students’ Union (ICSMSU) will still be active and here for you for the years ahead. ICSMSU is looking forward to your arrival at Imperial and is busy preparing for the Autumn term. 

 

Delivery of your Programme of Study                         

Departmental induction

The core departmental induction activities for your programme will take place on-campus. These activities will be supplemented by some online activities.  Further details will be provided nearer to the start of the year. 
 

Content of the programme

The year begins with a welcome week, starting on Monday 04 October.  

Following welcome week, LABP stream students will begin their projects. WKBP and LITP stream students will have two weeks of Science Communication and Public Engagement (SCPE) Advanced before embarking on their project or placement.  

Projects and placements will go ahead, but in some cases, adjustments may be necessary if social distancing requirements remain in place.  As every project is unique, adjustments will be discussed with you in consultation with your supervisor on an individual basis.  This may involve continuing with your proposed project but with reduced lab access, working with existing data held by your supervisor, producing pilot data which can be written as a grant application, converting your wet lab project to a dry lab project or other approaches agreed with the Head of Year.  Work placements will continue within the remit of the company policies and any Government guidance in force at the time. You should expect to be available to attend your project or placement in person throughout the project period.  

We have reviewed the learning outcomes for your programme to ensure these can be taught and assessed in a multi-mode format.  

No changes to the programme or module learning outcomes have been made as a consequence of moving to a multi-mode format.  

Some staff within the Faculty of Medicine may be temporarily unavailable due to their professional or clinical responsibilities.  We will make alternative arrangements if this directly affects your teaching.  

Scheduling

We are not anticipating changing the term of when modules will be taught or assessed.  

Programme Delivery 2021-22

The following activities will be delivered in person:   

  • All practical project work. 

  • Some small-group teaching.  

The following activities will be delivered online:   

  • Project supervision and non-practical aspects of the project may be delivered online.  

In the event of a partial lockdown, the following activities will be delivered in person:   

  • As many of the practical project activities as possible will continue to be delivered in person.   

In the event of a partial lockdown, the following activities will be delivered online:   

  • All theoretical teaching and pastoral activities will be delivered online. Some practical elements may need to be altered to enable your project to be delivered.  

Academic and welfare support

The School will continue to support you academically as you progress to Year 3. Your Academic Tutor will be available to you throughout this year, alongside the Head of Tutoring, Dr Kirsty Flower, and the Academic Study Skills team. Your Tutor, Senior Tutor, and the FEO Welfare team will continue to be available to you in the year ahead and you can contact them at any time with any concerns or if you need extra support. 

Your Senior Tutor will remain Dr Rebecca Salter this year, who, together with the FEO Welfare team, will ensure that appropriate additional wellbeing/welfare adjustments are offered, including the option to apply for mitigating circumstances. 

We have updated the Student Support Zone specifically in response to the pandemic, and we hope it will be helpful for you if you need extra resources during this time or in future. There, you can find support for careers, mental health, and disability services, along with study and wellbeing support, and the College chaplaincy.   

For those who find themselves in financial difficulties, the School of Medicine Hardship Fund is available. 

All students are welcome to apply multiple times as circumstances require. You can contact FEO Welfare (feo.welfare@imperial.ac.ukdirectly or find all the information on this via the Your Finances section on MedLearn. 

Support for online learning

You will still have access to your College-issued Apple iPad to support your academic studies. 

In addition, to access the content of the programme online you will be expected to have access to a computer (comparable to the laptop we offer for loan; HP EliteBook 840 G7, i5-10310U processor, 16Gb RAM, 256Gb solid state disk, 14” HD screen, Windows 10 Pro 64, webcam),  reliable internet connection with a minimum of sustained 10 MBps down/upload speed  and be able to use Microsoft Teams. Your College IT account will provide you with free access to the Office365 suite of tools, and further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available on our ICT webpages. Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided during the programme induction and through specific modules. 

Length of the programme

We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the timescale previously advertised. 

Additional costs

You will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, microphone and to a reliable internet connection, and you will need to cover any associated costs for these. Eligible students may apply for financial support from the Student Support Fund.  There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme. 

Location 

BMB projects are delivered across the Faculty of Medicine’s campuses and at external placement providers.  Other teaching is normally delivered primarily at the South Kensington and Hammersmith campuses, and we plan for that to continue.  

Visas and Immigration

If you require a visa to study in the UK, it is important that you have read the guidance provided by the International Student Support Team at the College. 

Imperial has a team of specialist immigration advisers who can provide specific advice on your immigration situation and on the best options for you. They can be reached by email on international@imperial.ac.uk. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK. 

Next steps

We are looking forward to welcoming you on campus for 2021-22.  We wish you all an enjoyable summer and look forward to seeing you later in the year. 

Professor Alison McGregor and Dr Vania Braga 
Head of BSc Medical Biosciences (BMB) and Head of BMB Year 3