We are looking forward to welcoming you to Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering this Autumn. We are writing to update you on some amendments to your programme which we will be making in order to ensure that it can be delivered safely, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Your programme would normally be delivered in-person on campus. In 2020-21, we plan to adopt a multi-mode approach for the delivery of your education. Multi-mode means that your experience will be a mix of in-person and remote activities.  

In the Autumn Term all teaching will be delivered exclusively via remote interactive methods and you will not be required to be physically present on campus.   

However, because a significant proportion of laboratory teaching on our Molecular Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering MEng degrees cannot be satisfactorily delivered remotely and online the Department will be requiring attendance of all UGs at the South Kensington and/or White City campuses from January 2021. This in particular relates to hands-on practicals that require the use of hazardous chemicals and fumehood provision. These taught activities account for over 100 hours of teaching and have been rescheduled for later in the academic year whilst preserving a fair distribution of the teaching load between the Autumn and Spring terms. For some of our other activities, we have developed lab-in-a-box protocols, but this delivery mode is neither feasible nor safe for the aspects of our wet labs. To ask students to undertake wet-lab-based chemistries at home would be extremely dangerous and would contravene regulations around safety and the use of hazardous substances. By enabling all hands-on elements to be delivered in person and on-site from January 2021, we have ensured that all learning objectives will be met and that both our degrees will go ahead in their full, accredited form, with academic progression proceeding as in previous years. 

Students who are unable to come to campus for healthcare reasons related to Covid-19 will be invited to submit a mitigation claim that will be reviewed by our departmental mitigation panel. If approved, full-remote teaching will be offered to these students so that they can achieve as many of the programme’s learning outcomes remotely.  

In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity at any point during the Spring and/or Summer terms due to an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19, the Department will continue to deliver content remotely and online wherever possible and will re-schedule to later in the academic year learning activities requiring students to be physically present in laboratories. Evidently, depending on the length and severity of any such outbreak it may not be possible to schedule the necessary activities during AY2020–21. Firstly, a review of your studies against the progression requirements will be made as it may be possible to continue on the programme and undertake the required activities in a later academic year.  If this is not possible, options will be offered for students to exit the programme and be provided with a transcript of credits achieved and an exit award where appropriate. All examinations and related assessments will be time-limited and will be carried out remotely. For students who are unable to be physically present on-campus following approval by our departmental mitigation panel, alternative plans have been set-up so that the large majority of learning outcomes can still be met. Plans will include pairing each student with a lab partner present on-campus and equipped with a pad or tablet so that they can follow each lab practical in real time. When appropriate (e.g. for some electronics labs), lab-in-a-box activities will be organised that can be performed safely in the student’s home. For those non-final year students who have been unable to attend during the entire academic year, additional catch-up sessions will be offered during the course of the following academic year so that all learning activities have been satisfactorily met. 

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance in the multi-mode offering may be subject to change.  

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

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 of 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 adjust or even suspend on-campus activity. In the event of suspension of on-campus activity, activities pertinent to specific learning objectives that require presence on campus will be rescheduled for later in the academic year, whereas all other in-person activities will be delivered using remote equivalents that ensure that the learning outcomes are met. 

The College is also developing community building activities to support the multi-mode experience.  

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. 

Departmental induction 

All departmental induction activities for your programme will take place remotely. 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 using 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. 

Scheduling  

Some modules’ (or parts of modules’) teaching and/or assessment(s) have been rescheduled to be delivered in a different term than originally advertised. 

Programme Delivery  

Autumn term 

All teaching activities will be delivered remotely in the Autumn term. 

There will be a substantial number of real-time teaching activities including lectures and study groups that you will be expected to attend. You will receive timetabling information shortly before the start of term. 

January 2021 onwards  

From January 2021 attendance on campus will be required for all students (except for those unable to come to campus for healthcare reasons related to Covid-19 and who had their mitigation claims approved by the department). In order to assist with social distancing, some activities may continue to be delivered remotely for all students on the programme. 

The following activities will require in-person attendance: lab practicals, computing/computer-based labs. 

The following activities will be delivered in a multi-mode format: lectures, some study groups, personal tutorials.  

Support for remote learning 

To access the content of the programme remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer with a webcam, reliable internet connection 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

Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided during the programme induction and through specific modules. 

Potential suspension of on-campus activity  

In the event of a temporary suspension of on-campus activity due to an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19, we will deliver some content remotely and seek to reschedule activities which cannot be delivered remotely later in the 2020-21 academic year. Depending on the length and severity of any such outbreak, if we are unable to deliver content remotely or re-schedule activities requiring in-person attendance in the 2020-21 academic year to meet the learning outcomes of the programme you will be given the option to: 

  1. Continue on the programme assuming you met the requirements for progression and undertake the required activities in a later academic year.  

or 

  1. Exit the programme. You will be provided with a transcript of the credits achieved and an exit award where appropriate. 

or 

  1. Extend your registration and complete the required in-person activities at a later date. The College will not charge any additional tuition fee in respect of completion at a later date, however you will be responsible for your own living/maintenance costs. Where you are living in College accommodation, we are unable to guarantee your accommodation beyond your original completion date. 

Please note: If you are an international student and require a Tier 4 / Student visa in order to study in the UK, you will be responsible for any visa application fees which may be incurred should your programme length be extended. Full support and guidance on visa and immigration issues is provided by our International Student Support Team.  

Programme assessment 

The College has agreed that the default alternative arrangement for any on-campus formal written examinations is to provide a timed remote assessment. For other types of assessment, the method may be amended to accommodate the multi-mode arrangements. All students participating in a piece of assessment will do this is the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely.  

Length of the programme 

We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the timescale previously advertised, unless we are unable to deliver content remotely or re-schedule activities requiring in-person attendance in the 2020-21 academic year to meet the learning outcomes of the programme 

Additional costs 

To study remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer with a webcam 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 choose to study remotely. 

Professional accreditation  

Professional accreditations for this programme remain in place even though it is being delivered in multi-mode format for next year. Professional accreditation bodies recognise that adjustments to the delivery and assessment of engineering degree programmes are unavoidable to protect the health and well-being of their staff and student communities or to follow the advice of government bodies in mitigating the spread and impact of the virus. Adjustments may include to delivery format, order in which modules are delivered, assessment methodologies, re-scheduling of learning and assessment into alternative periods, and possibly extension of end dates to enable work that has had to be suspended to be completed and assessed. 

Location 

In-person activities will still be delivered at the South Kensington campus, or in rare circumstances, at the White City campus. 

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 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 COVID-19 pages