We wrote to you in June 2020 outlining how the College’s plans for teaching will be adjusted due to the restrictions caused by Covid-19 during the Autumn 2020 term.  We are writing to you today to provide more details about our plans for the year ahead and to again emphasise that we are committed to providing the same world-leading education whatever happens.  

As we outlined previously, teaching during the Autumn term will begin on schedule and will be a combination of on-campus (face-to-face) and remote learning (online). We call this multi-mode form. This muliti-mode form will now be in place for all 3 terms of the academic year 2020-21. 

Multi-mode means that your experience will be a mix of in-person and remote activities. It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout next academic year, the balance in the multi-mode offering may be subject to change. We hope to be able to offer you increased on-campus learning activities throughout the year.  

If you are unable to travel to campus you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience, and you will be provided with a remote alternative of any in-person activities.  

Students coming to London part-way through a term may be expected to continue with remote activities for the remainder of the term, though the Department will try to accommodate such students in on-campus sessions where requested and if possible. 

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

 

Engagement with multi-mode delivery and equipment needed: 

To study and access the content of the programme in the multi-mode delivery you will be expected to have access to a computer with webcam and microphone, reliable internet connection and be able to use Microsoft Teams. A separate headset/ microphone is desirable, but not essential. Students will also require equipment for digital writing and annotation, such as a graphics tablet and stylus. This equipment will be required for on-campus and remote sessions. Coursework and remote examinations will need to be scanned (using a scanner, document camera or smartphone). There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme during a period in which you may be studying remotely. 

A graphics tablet and stylus that will enable you to engage with your studies effectively do not need to be costly. You may already have one, or if you need to purchase one, you are welcome to purchase the type of tablet and stylus you feel most suits your current study needs and equipment. Examples of possible tablets range from expensive options such as the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to cheaper options such as a  Wacom tablet and pen. You may find something else that suits you best, but the most important aspect of this is that you can write on a digital pad in order to share and collaborate with others as you may have done on a whiteboard in a tutorial classroom or a piece of paper in a problems class.  

If you find that this extra cost (or other costs associated with remote study) are prohibitive to the continuation of your study at Imperial, please look out for an email around this so that we can discuss possible support.   

 

The Mathematics Undergraduate Programme 

In Mathematics we are working over the summer period and Autumn term to adapt our modules to this “multi-mode” delivery. Our planning is informed both by our experience within College and the expertise we have gained in the Department in developing on-line courses - notably a new MSc in Machine Learning and Data Science that is scheduled to launch in 2021-22. We are designing learning activities to provide you with a great educational experience with multiple opportunities to interact personally with Mathematics academic and teaching staff and with other students.  We believe that personal engagement is central to leaning Mathematics. 

 

For second year students this means: 

  • Lectures: We are planning for the case where social distancing precludes lectures from meeting in person on-campus.  Thus, all lecture content will be on-line and we are producing high-quality, pre-recorded lecture segments, accompanied by typed notes or a suitable text, that we will mix with short quizzes and other exercises like those that we would include in interactive, live lectures. These activities will be ‘scheduled’ to provide structure to your learning. Of course, if social distancing is eased, we may be able to provide more live on-campus activities.  

  • Problems classes:  These will be run with much smaller groups of students than was the case for your 1st year problems classes. We expect to have 20-25 students in each group and you will typically have seven 50-minute problems classes per module per term. Some groups will meet in-person on campus and others will be run ‘live’ remote (not pre-recorded). Under current 2-metre social distancing rules, we expect all students will be able to join in-person on-campus sessions for about 40 percent of their problems classes. Students will have the option to participate remotely in all of their problems classes. Should social distancing ease, more on-campus problems classes will be available. Should government increase restrictions on gatherings, transportation, or social distancing, fewer on-campus problems classes will be available.  Modules will also be supported using office hours and discussion forums. 

  • Assessment:  The College has agreed that the default alternative arrangement for any on-campus formal written examinations is to provide a timed remote assessment. This means that all assessments, including the main exams in term 3, will be taken remotely in 2020-21. 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 in the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely.  

  • Meetings with your personal tutor:  Subject to government advice, College guidance on social distancing and access to campus, these meetings will be conducted on-campus if this is convenient for you and your personal tutor, otherwise they will be conducted remotely.  

  • Study spaces in the Department will be open but restricted in number to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Configuration of rooms will also be adjusted. Access will be limited to the days you are expected on campus for problems classes/tutorials to allow all students to have fair access. Students who may need access to Departmental specialist computational facilities on other days for their projects/research should look out for further information on this.  

For third year students this means: 

  • Lectures: We are planning for the case where social distancing precludes lectures from meeting in person on-campus. Thus, all lecture content will be on-line. The style of delivery may vary somewhat between modules, but, with the possible exception of some reading classes, there will be high-quality, pre-recorded lectures or lecture segments, accompanied by typed notes or a suitable text. These may be mixed with short quizzes and exercises like those that we would include in interactive, live lectures. These activities will be ‘scheduled’ to provide structure to your learning. Of course, if social distancing is eased, we may be able to provide more live on-campus activities. 

  • Problem classes:  These will be run ‘live’ and operate in a similar way to current 3rd year problem classes, scheduled as part of the lecture series. You will be able to participate remotely or, if conditions allow, on-campus. Problem classes for modules with large enrolments (typically, over 50) will run remotely. Modules will also be supported using office hours and discussion forums. 

  • Assessment:  The College has agreed that the default alternative arrangement for any on-campus formal written examinations is to provide a timed remote assessment. This means that all assessments, including the main exams in term 3, will be taken remotely in 2020-21. 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 in the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely.  

  • Meetings with your personal tutor:  Subject to government advice, College guidance on social distancing and access to campus, these meetings will be conducted on-campus if this is convenient for you and your personal tutor, otherwise they will be conducted remotely.  

  • Study spaces in the Department will be open but restricted in number to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Configuration of rooms will also be adjusted. Access will be limited to the days you are expected on campus for problems classes/tutorials to allow all students to have fair access. Students who may need access to Departmental specialist computational facilities on other days for their projects/research should look out for further information on this.  

 

For fourth year students this means: 

  • Lectures: We are planning for the case where social distancing precludes lectures from meeting in person on-campus. Thus, all lecture content will be on-line. The style of delivery may vary somewhat between modules, but, with the possible exception of some reading classes, there will be high-quality, pre-recorded lectures or lecture segments, accompanied by typed notes or a suitable text. These may be mixed with short quizzes and exercises like those that we would include in interactive, live lectures. These activities will be ‘scheduled’ to provide structure to your learning. Of course, if social distancing is eased, we may be able to provide more live on-campus activities.  

  • Problem classes:  These will be run ‘live’ and operate in a similar way to current 3rd / 4th  year problem classes, scheduled as part of the lecture series. You will be able to participate remotely or, if conditions allow, on-campus. Problem classes for modules with large enrolments (typically, over 50) will run remotely. Modules will also be supported using office hours and discussion forums. 

  • Assessment:  The College has agreed that the default alternative arrangement for any on-campus formal written examinations is to provide a timed remote assessment. This means that all assessments, including the main exams in term 3, will be taken remotely in 2020-21. 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 in the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely.  

  • Your 4th year project: : Subject to government advice, College guidance on social distancing and access to campus, meetings with your supervisor will be conducted on-campus if this is convenient for you and your supervisor, otherwise they will be conducted remotely. 

  • Meetings with your personal tutor: Subject to government advice, College guidance on social distancing and access to campus, these meetings will be conducted on-campus if this is convenient for you and your personal tutor, otherwise they will be conducted remotely.  

  • Study spaces in the Department will be open but restricted in number to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Configuration of rooms will also be adjusted. Access will be limited to the days you are expected on campus for problems classes/tutorials to allow all students to have fair access. Students who may need access to Departmental specialist computational facilities on other days for their projects/research should look out for further information on this.  

 

In addition to your strictly academic activities, the Department is committed to supporting student leadership groups, extra-curricular activities and learning.   

Existing or any new student groups with ideas for social initiatives (especially remote) are encouraged to contact Inkeri Hibbins (UG Liaison Officer) or Ella Robson (Student Experience Coordinator) to discuss plans for the new year. 

In the Department we will also be running an Inspirational Lecture Series: This new series of Lectures will involve weekly lectures delivered by Imperial’s world-leading mathematicians on general topics spanning the mathematics. Lectures will be delivered in-person on-campus. Social distancing restrictions, however, mean that the number of available seats in lecture theaters will be limited.  We will use a ticketing system to ensure that all students have equal opportunity to attend in person, though preference will be given to students in Years 3 and 4. Lectures will also be broadcast ‘live’ remote (not pre-recorded). Should social distancing be eased, there will be greater capacity in the lecture theaters and/or the talks will be followed by a reception. Should government increase restrictions on gatherings, transportation, or social distancing, fewer spaces will be available in the lecture theaters or if necessary the talks will be delivered fully remotely.  

 

Your safety comes first  

Safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. Right now, the College is modelling how our campuses can host a safe number of students and staff at any given time, strictly adhering to the latest official government guidance.  

We expect that you still have questions and want to know more about other aspects of the coming academic year. We and the College are working hard on preparations and guidance for this and will provide further details as we can.  

  
Your feedback matters  

We appreciate all the feedback that students have already shared on remote learning and assessment. Your experiences since March and how you have fared through all the recent changes  and challenges really matters to us. We understand that at times the rapid changes necessitated by circumstances have been difficult and stressful. We are learning from your experiences during the Summer term and using this to shape our delivery of your programme in 2020-21. 

  

College 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 in the COVID-19 FAQs on our website.

 

Further information and support  

The Department will hold a Q&A session to answer further queries about studies in the Department, please look out for emails regarding this.  

International students on Tier-4 visas – the International Student Support webpages hold information on your visa status. 

EU students – further information on pre-settled status and Q&A information can be found on the International Student Support pages.  

There is also a range of wellbeing and support services available to you. You can find out more by browsing the Student Support Zone and Success Guide.  

  

Thank you  

Lastly, we want to again thank everyone for your feedback and engagement with the community throughout this difficult time, and look forward to working together in the year ahead.  

Stay safe and stay well.  

  

David van Dyk, Head of Department 

David Evans, Director of Undergraduate Studies