Congratulations on completing your first year at Medical School and, to those of you who have resits, we wish you huge amounts of good luck.  

This year has been a journey like no other and although there have been many ups and downs, we hope you have learned a lot and enjoyed your experience overall. We have been really impressed with your engagement, and we are grateful for your patience as we worked to ensure that we could deliver your Phase 1a curriculum safely and effectively during the COVID pandemic. 

During last term, it was necessary to make some changes to the delivery of Phase 1a and this will also be the case for Phase 1b in 2020-21. We are now able to share more information with you about how and when your programme will be delivered in Phase 1b, starting in October 2020. 

Start of term  

Your Term will begin on Monday 5 October 2020. The teaching from this date will be delivered remotely for two weeks. Your on-campus teaching will resume on Monday 19 October 2020. The decision on when to bring you back onto campus has been influenced by current national guidelines on social distancing, and the need to reduce the number of students on campus at any time.  

We have redesigned your timetable to prioritise your clinical skills teaching and placements, which cannot be taught online, and ensure that there will only be 90 students on campus at a time (see below for more details). Should there be any significant changes to the national guidelines, your start date may be reviewed.  

You are therefore not required to be on campus during the first two weeks of Phase 1b, but you may choose to return to London if you wish. You must adhere to any travellers’ quarantine guidance in place at the time, as determined by the UK government. 

If you cannot travel to campus in Term 1, we want to reassure you that we will still offer you a high-quality, remote educational experience.   

We will be issuing you with a timetable that will contain live online teaching, and guided online teaching from Monday 5 October, as well as face-to-face on campus teaching from Monday 19 October. Please note that although your on-campus teaching does not start until Monday 19 October, you will be expected to attend the live on-line teaching from Monday 5 October. 

If you cannot travel due to circumstances beyond your control, please confirm this by emailing feo.years1-2@imperial.ac.uk by 21 August 2020. 

On-Campus curriculum delivery 

Whilst redesigning your timetable for Phase 1b, we have focused on the need to adhere to ongoing social distancing guidelines. Current restrictions mean that it is not possible to deliver both Phase 1a and Phase 1b in the way we planned.  

For this reason, from Week 3 (19 October 2020) we have prioritised your on-campus, face-to-face teaching to focus on the clinical skills and placements. Other teaching such as lectures, small group sessions, tutorials and Academic Tutoring will be delivered as live online or guided online sessions. 

Between Weeks 3 and 6, you will be taught on campus (including primary care placements) for  two days each week. On-site teaching will primarily be delivered at the South Kensington and Charing Cross campuses as well as our partner Trust/Primary Care locations, assuming national guidance at the time does not prevent this.   

When on campus you will be taught in cohorts of 90 and measures such as reducing group sizes and wearing of masks will be introduced to maintain your safety. You will be mainly taught in groups of approx. 30 and where it is not possible to maintain social distancing, such as in clinical anatomy skills, we have carried out the appropriate risk assessments and you will be provided with all necessary PPE. 

During Phase 1b, you will continue with your primary care placements. In Term 1, they will be in two full days, with a further two days in Term 2. In addition, in weeks 10 and 11 you will be on clinical placements in secondary care. More information about the clinical placements will be sent in due course. You may be sent to one or more of our partner Trusts. These locations are: 

  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (including Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary's Hospitals) 

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (including Chelsea and Westminster and West Middlesex Hospitals) 

  • London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (including Northwick Park, Central Middlesex and Ealing Hospitals) 

  • The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (including Hillingdon and Mount Vernon Hospitals) 

  • Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (St. Peter’s Hospital) 

If national or local guidance changes, then the placement sites may change to include ones not listed above or may necessitate a change in campus. We will let you know in advance if this is the case. 

You will be expected to engage with both the live online and guided online teaching in Phase 1b from Week 1 and attend the face-to-face on-campus teaching and placements from Weeks 3-11 unless other arrangements have been made. The College does not intend to change the advertised tuition fees for 2020/2021. 

No changes to the module learning outcomes have been made as a consequence of moving to the multi-mode delivery format. If the College is not able to deliver any modules in order to meet the programme learning outcomes due to the impact of public health guidance in place at the time, the length of the programme may be extended.  If your registration with the College needs to be extended, the College will not charge any additional tuition fee in respect of completion at a later date, but you will be responsible for your own living costs, and the College is unable to guarantee providing you with accommodation beyond your original completion date (if you are living in College provided accommodation). 

Spring and summer Terms 2020-21 

We plan to offer your programme in-person during the Spring and Summer Terms in 2021, and this means that your attendance will be required. We have contingency plans in place in case of further disruption as a result of COVID19 and associated restrictions. Some content will continue to be delivered remotely. 

ICT support and requirements 

Any additional study skills required by students to ensure digital literacy will be delivered and supported. Students will require a computer or laptop with internet to access remote teaching. A camera and microphone will also be needed for participation in interactive live online teaching activities and we will be issuing guidance on the professional behaviour expected in these sessions before the start of term.  

You will already have an iPad provided by the College. Students working remotely may need to source and pay for any required equipment and supplies themselves  Eligible students may receive financial support from the Student Support Fund

Your health and safety 

All face-to-face on-campus teaching will be subject to public health guidance, College guidelines on social distancing, and additional health and safety measures needed, for example the clinical skills teaching (where social distancing is not possible). We are conducting a full risk assessment of our teaching areas and planned activities to ensure that any measures required to meet this guidance are in place for the start of teaching.  

All placement teaching will adhere to NHS policies and guidelines.    

The College is implementing enhanced infection control procedures, for example, by frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly including door handles, light switches, furniture, handrails, IT equipment, desks, phones, flush plates, taps and dispensers. Perspex screens will also be used across the College in reception and service areas. Around the College, in teaching spaces and in our halls of residence there will be hand sanitisers and multi-surface cleaning wipes for you to use, as well as plenty of hand-washing facilities. 

Whilst on campus, you should follow the UK Government’s official guidance and College policies. These currently do not mandate the wearing of face coverings, however, in multi-occupancy locations such as laboratories, teaching and communal spaces, wearing a face covering shows our consideration for the safety of those around us. Face coverings should cover both your mouth and nose. Please note that in line with current Government rules, face coverings must be worn for the full duration of journeys on the public transport network across London and the UK if you are required to come onto campus. We expect our students to adhere to UK (national and local) travel advice.  

If there is a further outbreak of COVID19 during your programme, 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.  

Returning to programme 

We understand that some of you will feel concerned about returning to your studies (especially clinical placements) or may have barriers to doing so in light of the current pandemic. Your health, safety and wellbeing are of paramount importance to us, and we want to reassure you that we are working with the College, hospitals and GP practices to make you as safe as possible while on placement. We always expect the requisite personal protective equipment (PPE) to be available to you, and you will not be expected to remain on any placement where this cannot be provided. You will be able to contact us at any time to raise concerns, should they arise. 

We know that some of you are currently abroad and may experience difficulties in returning to the UK. We also recognise that some of you will have circumstances which make returning to College more difficult. 

Please complete this Qualtrics form by 21 August 2020 if you fall into any of the following five categories: 

  1. You are overseas and there are currently restrictions on your return to the UK 

  1. While on placement, you will be living with another person who is shielding because they are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 

  1. While on placement, you will be living with another person who is at a higher risk from COVID-19, but who is not shielding. 

There will be a range of options for supporting you and we will work with you, Occupational Health and the College to reduce the risk of returning to your studies for you and your household wherever possible. 

Missed teaching in Phase 1a 

Following the suspension of your secondary care clinical placement in March, you will all have missed some clinical experience. However, we are aware of this and you will have sufficient time in Phase 1b to catch-up on your clinical skills. Indeed, we have prioritised your clinical skills training in the revised timetables. 

The learning outcomes of Phase 1b have not been changed as a result of the COVID pandemic, although the mode of delivery has been modified to ensure we can delivery all your teaching.  We do not currently expect to move or amend your Phase 1b modules or any clinical activities outside of this academic year. If government guidance (either national or local requirements) means that it is necessary to reschedule any activities, we will move them to the most appropriate point during your studies to ensure these experiences are undertaken. 

Assessments 2020-21 

We have developed a comprehensive plan for your Phase 1b assessments, and we will communicate this to you more fully later in the year. It is likely that examinations in Term 1 will be delivered on iPads and undertaken remotely, but we will adapt based on national guidance in place at the time and confirm with you. 

For now, we hope that you can enjoy some time to relax over the summer away from examinations. 

 If additional lockdowns or social distancing measures mean we cannot hold in-person exams and assessments alternative arrangements will be made, including the use of remote, online exams.  

We will not change how your degree is awarded. Medicine will continue to be a pass/fail course.   

These changes will not affect your ability to apply for registration with the General Medical Council (GMC) upon successful completion of the programme. 

Your academic and welfare support  

The School will continue to support you academically as you move through Phase 1b. Your Academic Tutor will be available to you throughout this year, alongside the Director of Tutoring, Dr Mike Emerson, and the MBBS Study Skills team. 

Your Tutors, your year group’s Senior Tutor, and the FEO Welfare team will continue to be available to you in the year ahead and you can contact them at any time with any concerns or if you need extra support. You can also get in touch with us, your Phase 1 Team, directly, or via your Academic Tutor. 

We know that sometimes things happen in life that can affect your health and wellbeing. In these circumstances, the Senior Tutor will support students going through these more complex stages. The Senior Tutor and the School of Medicine Welfare team ensure that appropriate additional wellbeing/welfare support is offered, including the option to apply for mitigating circumstances.   

We have updated the Student Support Zone specifically in response to the pandemic, and we hope it will be helpful for you if you need extra resources during this time or in future. There you can find support for careers, mental health, and disability services, along with study and wellbeing support, and the College chaplaincy.   

The School of Medicine Hardship Fund is available to any students struggling with finances, and all students are welcome to apply multiple times as circumstances require. All the information on this is in the Your Finances section on MedLearn. 

A word about CRI 

In our planning for Phase 1b, we are aiming to retain your CRI Research Experiences in 2021. We know that you will be looking forward to this module and that students find it a valuable and rewarding experience. We want to protect this as far as it is feasible to do so. We are therefore very pleased that that your course will still include a three-week window for the CRI Experiences. However, as you will appreciate, the situation with COVID-19 is continually evolving and we may be required to adjust the programme in order to adhere to local or national guidance in place at the time. 

Your School of Medicine  

Our world-leading educators and researchers will be available to teach and support you both remotely with the live on-line and on-campus face to face teaching where applicable and where guidelines and circumstances allow. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that some staff within the Faculty of Medicine may be temporarily unavailable due to their professional or clinical responsibilities. This will not directly affect your teaching.  

We know that the year ahead is going to present you with more new situations than any of us could have predicted. We know that this will seem daunting, and we wish to reassure you that your student experience is our paramount concern. We have expanded our ability to manage remote learning and assessment, as well as academic and welfare support, to ensure that your educational experience at Imperial is of exceptional quality, especially during these unprecedented times, but also in the years ahead. 

Regardless of the future COVID-19 situation, our priority will be to adapt the curriculum so that you can successfully complete the Phase 1b course and progress to Phase 1c. 

Please do let us know if you have any questions and thank you for all the work you have done during your first year. 

With best wishes 

Professor Mary Morrell and Dr Omid Halse (Phase 1 Directors) and the Phase One Team