We hope you’re all safe and well and that the summer break is going well wherever you are in the world. As the academic year 2020–2021 approaches we wanted to get in touch to reassure you of our dedication and commitment to all of our returning students. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to ensure that your programme of study can be delivered safely, we will be making some amendments to your programme. We wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about our exciting plans for teaching in the Autumn term in Chemistry at Imperial College, and what you can look forward to. 

Your programme would normally be delivered in-person on campus. In 2020–21, we plan to deliver it in multi-mode for the Autumn term in the first instance. Multi-mode means that if you are unable to travel to campus for the Autumn term you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme. In order to achieve this, we are bringing together our teaching and digital learning expertise in Chemistry to build a rich and exciting undergraduate experience for the new academic year. 

During the Easter and Summer Terms in 2021 we plan to offer your programme in-person on campus, and this means that your attendance at our campus will be required. We do have contingency plans in place in case of further disruption as a result of COVID-19 and associated restrictions, but these plans assume that you will be in London during 2020–21; you may not be able to complete the requirements of your programme if you are not. 

 

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. If there is an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19 during your programme, then we may be forced to suspend on-campus activity. This will be in line with Public Health Advice from the UK Government and may be a consequence of national and/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 remotely to all students.  

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 and the Department of Chemistry are also developing an extensive suite of community-building activities to support the multi-mode experience for students.  

 

Content and Scheduling of the programme  

The College and the Department have reviewed the learning outcomes for your programme to ensure that these can be taught and assessed in multi-mode format. Following the development of the multi-mode programme no changes to the module learning outcomes have been made. With respect to the scheduling of modules (or parts of modules) teaching and/or assessment(s) may be rescheduled to be delivered in a different term to that originally planned. 

 

Programme delivery 

If you are able to come to campus in the Autumn term, your experience will be a mix of in-person and online tuition with the balance driven by boundaries set by social distancing and compliance with governmental guidelines. 

It is really important to us that all of our students continue to develop their practical skills. We are therefore aiming where possible to run face-to-face laboratory sessions in the Autumn term. Our lab spaces will be modified and enhanced to accommodate safe working practices: at all times health and safety will remain the primary driver. In the event of lockdown conditions tightening significantly our practical chemistry modules have been configured with enough built-in flexibility/contingencies so that content may be delivered remotely to an increased extent but with Intended Learning Outcomes still being met. This will include exciting “lab in a box” approaches that will enable students to conduct experiments remotely.  

Lectures will be provided asynchronously in such a way that students access material online, with structured guidance from the Department concerning timing of student access to lecture materials. This framework will be complemented by extensive opportunities for real-time interaction with lecturers through drop-in sessions, and workshops that directly map onto the lectures. Where health and safety considerations permit tutorials will be a mixture of face to face and online sessions. 

If you are unable to come to campus in the Autumn term, tutorials and non-lab/practical activities will be delivered remotely, and you will also be given remote alternatives to the lab/practical activities that deliver the same learning outcomes. 

To support our mixed-mode delivery students will benefit from focussed training and study skills in digital literacy that will be at a College level and through the Department led i-Engage courses. 

In addition to workshops there will be drop-in clinics to provide 1-2-1 support that will be enhanced through the personal tutorial framework. 

 

Teaching activities from January 2021 

As mentioned above, from January 2021 your attendance at our campus is required. In order to assist with social distancing, some content will continue to be delivered remotely for all students on your programme, but there will be elements of your programme requiring in-person attendance. 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. In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity at this time due to an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19, then we will deliver some content remotely and seek to re-schedule essential lab/practical activities to later in the year. Depending on the length and severity of any such outbreak, then we may not be able to schedule the necessary activities during the 2020–21 Academic Year. In that case, you will be offered the options of exiting the programme and will be provided with a transcript of credits achieved and an exit award where appropriate. Alternatively, you would have the opportunity to extend your registration and complete your lab/practical work on campus at a later date. The College will not charge any additional tuition fee in respect of registration extensions, but you will be responsible for your own expenses.  

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.

 

Research Projects 

Some project options on this programme are software- and/or simulation-based and can be completed remotely. Others require in-person work in our laboratories or other specialist spaces. If your project requires in-person work to be undertaken, then you will be required to attend our campus from January 2021. In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity at this time due to an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19, if your project is software/simulation based it will also be possible to complete this remotely. If your project requires in-person presence on campus, you will be offered the following options:  

  1. switch to an alternative project capable of being completed remotely (depending on how much of your project has already been completed),  

  1. exit the programme with an alternative exit award subject to meeting the required number of credits for that award 

  1. extend your registration and complete your project on-campus at a later date. The College will not charge any additional tuition fee in respect of registration extensions, but you will be responsible for your own expenses. 

 

IT Resources 

To access the content of the programme remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer, 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 will be made available. Training and support for the use of other systems and software will be provided throughout the year including during the programme induction and through specific modules. Minimum hardware specifications will be communicated clearly to you by the Department in the coming weeks, including some details of capability requirements for accessing specific parts of the curriculum (e.g. modelling, database searching, data retrieval/processing) 

 

Year abroad programmes (only for students embarking on this this year) 

The College will need to adhere to partner institutions requirements as well as to UK travel advice during the period of your year abroad. As a result, there is a chance your year abroad (or partial year abroad) may be cancelled or rescheduled. You will be entitled to transfer to the version of your programme without the year abroad option or to exit the programme with an alternative exit award (subject to meeting the required number of credits for that award). 

 

Industrial Placements (only for students embarking on this this year)  

Your placement may be cancelled or rescheduled. The College will need to adhere to your placement provider’s requirements, as well as to UK travel advice during the period of your placement. You will be offered replacement provision by the College, or will be offered the opportunity to change to the version of your programme without the placement element (where available) or to exit the programme with an alternative exit award (subject to meeting the required number of credits for that award). 

 

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. These were successfully evaluated and executed in AY2019–20 for all our year groups. For other types of assessment, the method may be amended to accommodate multi-mode arrangements. The split between use of timed remote assessments, written coursework and other forms of assessment may be optimised/amended in line with circumstances. 

Other assessments such as written coursework will be submitted and evaluated online as previously. 

Vivas, presentations, poster sessions and synoptic oral exams will be carried out online or face-to-face according to guidelines in place at the time; as you know these mechanisms were used successfully following the College’s move to remote teaching and assessment at the end of AY2019–20 spring term. All students participating in a piece of assessment will do this in the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely. For the Autumn term 2020–21 all assessments will be completed in a remote format. Details of individual assessments will be provided in the Programme Handbook.  

 

Length of the programme 

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

 

Additional costs 

To study remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer 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 accreditation for the programme remains in place even though it is being delivered in multi-mode format for next year. Any changes we make will be in line with accreditation framework of the RSC. 

 

Location  

On-site in-person teaching will continue to be delivered at the South Kensington and/or White City campuses, or in accommodation within the South Kensington neighbourhood. 

At this challenging time, we are proud of our colleagues who are playing a leading role in the global effort to develop new ways combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Our graduates, developing the right knowledge and skills as part of our world-leading and supportive community, will be important contributors to global renewal as we move forward. Don’t forget that you can also read more about Imperial’s research and latest developments on our News website, follow us on social media or sign up for our daily news bulletin too. 

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 in the COVID-19 FAQs on our website

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you all back to campus for the start of Autumn term. Naturally we fully appreciate that everyone’s circumstances are different and that this may not be possible for you. Therefore, if you find that you are unable to travel to campus for Autumn term, we have made plans so that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme. 

In this letter we’ve tried to provide as much detail as possible about how your programme will run next year but do please keep looking at your College email for further information and updates. Most importantly, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions and we’ll endeavour to answer these as soon as possible.