We are writing to you in our capacity as the Course Directors of the MSc Health Policy programme. We understand that you may have some anxieties about continuing your studies in Year 2 of the MSc so want to clarify plans for the Academic year ahead. 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. If you are unable to travel to campus for the Autumn term multi-mode means that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme.  

  

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.  

 

Delivery of the programme  

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.  

Lectures, workshops, and presentations will be delivered remotely. 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 is available at here. Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided through specific modules. 

 

Length of the programme  

We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the 2 year 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. 

Autumn term 2020 

Your first two modules will run for a total of 6 weeks each:  

  • Module 5: Innovation in healthcare 21 September - 30 October 

  • Elective Module 6a: Measuring and Improving performance in healthcare 2 November - 11 December  

  • Elective Module 6b: Communicating health policy 2 November - 11 December 

The Health Policy module teams have created a range of exciting and dynamic online learning materials, such as pre-recorded videos, readings and case studies, mini activities and discussion forums, which you will work through on a weekly basis (asynchronously). In addition, this will be supplemented with a number of live interactive (synchronous) sessions where you will have an opportunity to interact with the module leads, guest speakers and your peers. Importantly, this approach will provide you with opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills, individually and in teams. 

We recognise that everyone is undertaking the programme in addition to other work, caring and social responsibilities. With that in mind, we have timetabled these activities across a number of weeks to help you organise your workload effectively. Most synchronous sessions will take place at 6pm (UK timezone) on Thursdays, and these will all be recorded for anyone unable to attend live.  

In previous cohorts, where teaching has taken place in face-to-face teaching blocks, each lasting two weeks, students have taken this time as study leave. In the new model of delivery, we would therefore recommend that you seek to negotiate half a day a week to focus on the modules across the term times and enable you adequate time to focus on your studies. If this is not possible then don’t worry, the beauty of online learning is that the majority of it is asynchronous, so you can work through the learning materials flexibly, in your own time, whenever suits you best! 

 

Spring term 2021 

We are currently planning for Module 7 (Health service delivery) and Module 8 (Leadership in healthcare) to be delivered through a blended multi-modal learning model, with a combination of online and on-campus teaching. The on-campus teaching will be based at our St Mary’s campus. In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity at this time all teaching activities will be delivered remotely. 

 

Assessments 

The assessments for the year are designed to be varied and authentic, teaching skills that are useful in academic, industry, political and clinical environments. The assessments will be undertaken as individuals or amongst teams and are submitted online through Blackboard Learn, our virtual learning platform. The assessments will be a chance to expand knowledge on theory, principles and examples taught in each module, and a chance to explore further topics of interest. 

 

Dissertations 

As Year 2 students, we appreciate you may be concerned about how we will support your research dissertation plans. The individual expectations for projects will vary depending on your chosen pathway, however a significant proportion of projects will be able to be conducted fully or partially remotely. Once you have finalized your project options with prospective supervisors in the autumn term you will gain a clearer understanding of your project plan and formalize your project outline. We will continue to offer research clinics, dissertation presentation evenings and special lectures on dissertation planning over the course of the 2020/21 academic year. Each student will also be encouraged to continue to participate in remote tutorials to discuss research plans with their College dissertation tutor. 

 

Digital literacy skills 

Digital literacy skills will be required for online study, however we do not foresee expectations for these skills as being more complex than in previous years, for example using Blackboard Learn. If you require further guidance such as using Microsoft Teams for class discussion, we will direct you to the relevant College supported resources and will also run a test call in week one to identify any issues. Further College learning resources are available, for example, library or graduate school academic skills training and we will also direct you towards these.  

 

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 website

 

Cohort cohesion 

We are offering some on-campus face-to-face sessions between 21st – 24th September 2020. These will be based at our St Marys campus, which will be entirely optional.  During this week, we intend to run some interactive group sessions and tutorials where we will further explore case studies applicable to the theory you’ll be learning throughout modules 5 & 6, some research skills workshops which will feed into your dissertation planning and of course, provide you with an opportunity to meet one another through a range of social activities. We aim to provide around 15 hours of activities during this optional week, which will provide you with opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills, individually and in teams. For these optional on-campus sessions, we have secured space and put in place procedures to ensure you and our staff will be as safe as possible at all times.  

If you are unable to attend campus in-person or choose to study entirely remotely, this is not a problem at all. We will ensure that all core teaching is delivered online, and the on-campus activities are optional extras!   

Throughout the year, we will strive to provide a rich programme that offers everything that the previous in-person course had to offer, through varied learning exercises and tasks. We will also provide opportunities to socialise (virtually) and feel part of your MSc cohort. Please also be assured that in addition to our programme specific plans, the College is also developing community building activities to support the mixed-mode experience for students.  

As always, should you have any questions, please contact us and we will be delighted to talk to you and clarify, to all, any point that might still lack clarity. 

We look forward to meeting you all again online or at our optional on-campus workshops in the Autumn term. 

 

Mr Colin Bicknell, Mr Erik Mayer, Programme Directors 

MSc Health Policy, Centre for Health Policy in the Department of Surgery & Cancer