MSc Optics and Photonics
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Imperial this autumn.
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.
We will expect you 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. We plan to deliver your programme through a combination of on-campus and online teaching activities (multi-mode), with a strong emphasis on prioritising your time on our campuses.
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. Lectures 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 in your department are provided in the programme delivery section of this letter.
Our priority is for you to experience everything our campuses and London has to offer. However, you will be expected to adhere to the safety measures in place for the College. This may include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the outcome of this testing to the College. There is also the strong 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. By following the latest guidance we can all support the College community to stay safe and satisfy the UK government that we can continue with in-person on-campus activities, wherever possible.
If there is an escalation of the pandemic, then, in line with guidance from the UK government, we may be required to suspend all on-campus activity. If this happens, 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 your programme cannot be delivered within the advertised timeframe.
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 expected to attend the College in-person from the start of your programme, unless you can demonstrate that you have been impacted by exceptional COVID-19 related circumstances.
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 you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience, and you will be temporarily provided with a remote alternative of any on-campus activities which you might miss. You should contact Dr Andrew Williamson (email@example.com) if 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 resulted 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 your programme may retain some of these approaches in the new academic year to enhance your overall experience on campus, and these are detailed in this letter.
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 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.
For assessments that take place in the autumn term, or at the start of the spring term of the 2021-22 academic year, where there was to be an in-person on-campus written examination, these will be assessed by timed remote assessments, irrespective of whether there are restrictions in place or not. We may continue to deliver examinations by timed remote assessments where these are deemed the most appropriate method of assessment.
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.
Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of 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, considering current and potential future restrictions, are set out on our website.
Delivery of your Programme of Study
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 your programme.
Content of the programme
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.
We are not anticipating changing the term of when modules will be taught or assessed.
Programme Delivery 2021-22
The programme primarily consists of taught modules, laboratory work, projects and pastoral activities.
Taught modules consist of a blend of lectures and more interactive activities that support, promote and enhance students’ learning experience. These activities include problem classes, group seminars, office hours and Q&A sessions.
Our expectation is that:
most of the interactive supporting activities associated with taught modules will be delivered in person;
experimental laboratory work will be delivered in person;
some project supervision will be delivered in person and some online;
some pastoral activities will be delivered in person and some online;
most lectures and some supporting activities associated with taught modules will be delivered online.
Depending on guidance at the time, or in the event of a partial lockdown, some in-person activities may be moved online and/or we may require reduced in-person attendance, e.g., on alternate or pre-scheduled days.
Support for online learning
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; see https://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=4AA7-6811ENUC), 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 at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/ict/self-service/connect-communicate/office-365/apps/microsoft-teams/ .
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.
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. There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme if you have to study remotely.
In-person activities will still be delivered at the South Kensington campus.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK.
We look forward to welcoming you to our amazing optics and photonics community in October this year.
Director of MSc Optics and Photonics & MRes Photonics