We are writing to you in our capacity as Head of NHLI, Prof Edwin Chilvers, and as Programme Director, Dr Marta Vazquez-Ortiz. You currently hold an offer from us to commence study on the PGCert in Allergy in October 2020 and we are looking forward to welcoming you to the Department at the start of the new academic year. 

We are contacting you today with the final plans for our PGCert in Allergy programme for the academic year ahead. 

Institutional guarantees 

All on campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the current Public Health advice from the UK Government, College guidelines on social distancing and any additional health and safety measures. In the event that there is an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19 during your programme, then, in line with Public Health Advice from the UK Government, we may be forced to suspend on-campus activity. This may be in connection with either national or local requirements. Since we will already be delivering the taught elements of your programme remotely to some students as part of the multi-mode format, we will continue to be able to deliver these elements to all students remotely. 

The College will deliver your programme to ensure the approved learning outcomes are met and will take steps to make alternative arrangements in any extreme circumstances where this is not possible. The College is also developing community building activities to support the multi-mode experience for students. 

College-wide induction and enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year and there will be no requirement to visit the campus in-person to begin your studies. 

The NHLI induction for all Masters programmes in the institute will take place online on 8th October 2020 and further details will be provided nearer to the start of the programme. 

Social cohesion 

Most of our Autumn term will be delivered online. This will require you to have access to a computer and a reliable internet signal, particularly during the planned live sessions (see details below). The programme will start in the first week of October 2020 and we have planned online induction sessions 

in the first two weeks for you to meet us, your fellow students on the programme, and your tutors. These induction sessions will also be an opportunity for you to familiarise yourselves with the online platforms and tools we will be using in the year, and for all of us to set expectations around the programme and online/on campus learning and teaching. 

Throughout the year, we will continue with these opportunities to socialise and feel part of our PGCert cohort. To this effect, we will organise several online group work sessions, some with our group tutor or Faculty, as well as some social events. These will be incorporated in the induction sessions and teaching weeks. 

Programme content and delivery 

We have reviewed the programme’s learning outcomes and can confirm that no changes will be required as a consequence of moving to a multi-mode format of delivery for the year ahead. Please refer below to details on each module’s delivery. 

  •  Scientific Basis of Allergy, November 2020 

Our first module will be delivered predominantly online. The Programme team has prepared an exciting programme for you to investigate the immunological mechanisms underlying allergic diseases, and how these relate to the clinical presentations, diagnostic procedures and management strategies in Allergy. There will be work that each of you will need to do outside of the virtual classroom and in your own time (asynchronous) to prepare for the live (synchronous) interactive sessions with our academics. The latter will include group work and student-led sessions. 

We have timetabled these activities in a block teaching week between the 23rd and the 27th November to help you organise your work effectively. If you are working, we advise that you take leave for the teaching week. The timetable for the live interactive sessions during the teaching week will be circulated in advance so you can plan your study. You may prefer to work on the asynchronous learning materials beforehand and focus mainly on the synchronous sessions during the teaching week. To facilitate this, the asynchronous teaching materials will be made available before the teaching week. 

We aim to offer a selection of face-to-face on campus sessions during the teaching week. For this, we have secured space and put in place procedures to ensure you and our staff will be as safe as possible at all times. Should you not be able to join us on campus, online materials will be available covering the aspects offered during the on campus sessions. 

The teaching week will include around 40 hours of timetabled asynchronous and synchronous activities which you will have to complement with individual work. Importantly, this approach will provide you with opportunities to develop your immunology and allergy knowledge and skills, individually and in teams. 

  • The Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergic Disease, January 2021 and The Cutting Edge of Allergy, April 2021 

We are currently planning for these popular modules to be delivered on campus as a block teaching week between the 18th and 22nd January 2021, and the 26th - 30th April 2021, respectively. This will be complemented with individual work on the learning materials. Should access to campus be limited in the Winter or Spring terms, the relevant module(s) will most probably be delivered in a blended way, combining online and face to face sessions. If there were to be no access to campus, the module(s) will be delivered remotely with the required adaptations. 

Assessments 

In the Scientific Basis of Allergy module offered in the Autumn term, the main assessment will change from a closed book to an open book examination to enable remote delivery. The two minor group assessments in this module will be conducted remotely using appropriate technology. 

Should the Winter or Spring terms be delivered remotely, we will slightly adapt the planned assessments accordingly. This would include adapting the practical exam in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergic Disease module to be conducted remotely as ‘a virtual allergy clinic’. We will also adapt a minor group assessment in the Cutting Edge of Allergy module to be conducted remotely using appropriate technology. The two main assessments in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergic Disease module and the Cutting Edge of Allergy Module are individual in-course assessments that are normally submitted online and therefore would not require any adaptations. 

Digital resources 

In order to access and complete the learning materials, you will require access to the following technology: 

  • Mobile or desktop device with a camera and microphone that has internet access 
  • Latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge web browsers 
  • Mobile or desktop device where the following can be accessed: 
  • Microsoft Office 365 and its suite of features, including Microsoft Teams 
  • Blackboard Learn 
  • Panopto 
  • Turnitin 
  • Zoom 
  • Mobile or desktop device that allows software to be downloaded and updated from the internet 
  • Mobile or desktop device that allows media to be played such as Vimeo or YouTube videos 

Programme length and location 

Any scheduled on site teaching will be delivered at St Mary’s campus, Paddington. We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the timescale previously advertised. 

Student Experience 

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of COVID-19, Imperial has been working with your Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience under 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 social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our website

How we can answer your questions 

As always, should you have any questions, please contact us and we will be delighted to talk to you to clarify any point or address any concerns. Please contact us at allergypgs@imperial.ac.uk 

Thank you for choosing Imperial as the institution to undertake your postgraduate studies. We are enthusiastic about you joining our outstanding student body, and look forward to welcoming you in the Autumn, online! 

Prof Edwin R. Chilvers, Head, NHLI 

Dr Marta Vazquez-Ortiz, Programme Director, PGCert/ PGDip/ MSc in Allergy