We are looking forward to welcoming you to Imperial this autumn. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to ensure that your degree programme can be safely delivered, we are writing to update you on how the College is planning to support a safe return to study and on how we intend to deliver your programme in 2021-22. We plan to deliver your programme through a combination of on-campus and online teaching activities (multi-mode), with a strong emphasis on prioritising your time on our campuses. 

We are planning for the most crucial and engaging learning opportunities to be delivered in-person and without social distancing in place. We anticipate UK government guidelines will support this decision by the time you arrive for the new academic year. Lectures may be hosted online when this method is considered to be educationally beneficial to students, and when it is clear that online mode will reduce the risk of sustained COVID-19 transmission as our community emerges from the pandemic. We will use our experience of our past academic year when deciding how best to timetable your teaching. 

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance of on-campus and online teaching may be subject to change. However, we share students’ hopes that we will be able to offer on-campus learning activities consistently throughout the coming year. 

Further details on the mix of on-campus and online activities and support available to you in your department are provided in the programme delivery section of this letter. 

Institutional guarantees 

General 

Our priority is for you to experience everything our campuses and London has to offer. However, you will be expected to adhere to the safety measures in place for the College. This may include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the outcome of this testing to the College. There is also the strong expectation that you will have been vaccinated against COVID-19or that you will take up the opportunity once in the UK, if vaccination is not available in your home country. By following the latest guidance we can all support the College community to stay safe and satisfy the UK government that we can continue with in-person on-campus activities, wherever possible. 

Details for your programme are set out in this communication.  

Attendance and Delivery of Teaching 

As you can appreciate, it is not entirely clear what circumstances we will be working with for the coming academic year, but we are planning the delivery of your programme on the assumption of a phased return to substantial amounts of on-campus teaching over the 2021-22 academic year. To accommodate this, we may plan to deliver your programme initially through a combination of on-campus and online activities (multi-mode), the balance of which will be reviewed and adjusted as circumstances change.   

As a community, we have learnt a lot from this past year. Our combination of cutting-edge technology and academic excellence resulted in some new and creative ways of learning and engaging with each other on campus and remotely. Many of the changes made to the learning experience have worked well, and therefore your programme may retain some of these approaches in the new academic year to enhance your overall experience on campus, and these are detailed in this letter. 

In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity due to an escalation of the pandemic, we will deliver some content online and, if necessary, reschedule activities which cannot be delivered online later in the 2021-22 academic year. Depending on the length and severity of any such scenario, if we are unable to deliver content remotely or re-schedule activities requiring in-person attendance [e.g. labs/practicals/etc] within the 2021-22 academic year to meet the learning outcomes of the programme, we may have to extend the length of your programme, with no extra fees being charged.  You will also be given the option to exit the programme and provided with a transcript of the credits achieved together with an exit award, where appropriate. More information on the assessments will be provided at the start of the academic year, and they will be a combination of online ad in-person activities.  

Safety 

You will be required to follow the safety requirements put in place on campus and in all College buildings (including halls) to ensure we keep the campuses and the Imperial community safe and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, particularly in our ability to deliver your degree programme and to offer you a full student experience.  

There will be requirements and expectations placed on you and other members of the College community to follow the safety measures put in place by the UK government and national and local public health authorities. You can view our current guidance for our community on our website. This may vary once we begin the academic year, but is likely to include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the results of this testing to the College. There is also the strong expectation that you will have been vaccinated against COVID-19or that you will take up the opportunity once in the UK, if vaccination is not available in your home country. Failure to follow the safety measures and report them to College may result in restrictions being imposed on the delivery of your degree programme and on your access to the wider student experience.  

Student Experience 

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of COVID-19, Imperial has been working with your Students’ Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience in 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 and potential future restrictions, are set out on our website.  

Delivery of the Course 

The MSc is made of 9 modules and the MSc team has prepared an exciting programme for you to investigate many fascinating aspects of translational neuroscience. There will be work that each of you will need to do outside of the classroom and in your own time (asynchronous) to prepare for the live online and face-to-face (synchronous) interactive sessions with our academics. We have timetabled these activities to help you organise your work effectively. Importantly, this approach will provide you with opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills, individually and in teams. 

October-December 2021 

Your Introductory week (4-8 October 2021will be delivered fully online so you are not expected to be on the campus (to accommodate those who have to quarantine upon arrival). You will be expected to be able to join on-campus activities from the 11th of October 2021. Modules 1-4 will be delivered in a manner that blends asynchronous (individual and team work outside of the classroom) and synchronous (live classroom-based) face-to-face and online sessions. This will allow you to meet the learning outcomes of the programme. 

January-February 2022 

The elective modules (modules 5 and 6 for Stream 1 and modules 7 and 8 for Stream 2) occur during the Spring term of 2022 and we currently plan to deliver these within a blended framework of online and on-campus delivery. These modules are on rather advanced neuroscience aspects on neuroimaging and neurodegeneration/regeneration. ICAs are shaped in a variety of active learning-inspired forms, from tutorials to hackathons, from grant pitches to live debates. 

March 2022 

Module 9 comprises the research project, which is scheduled to run for approximately six months from March 2022. We are currently anticipating no major changes to this module, whose research component will be delivered in our research laboratories on campus. Should physical access to laboratories be limited, we will provide choices of dry research projects and wet research projects to be conducted. M9 teaching sessions can be conducted online and will be an added opportunity for you to strengthen skills such as communication and organisation. 

Support for online learning 

To access the content of the programme online you will be expected to have access to a computer, a reliable internet connection with a minimum of sustained 10 MBps down/upload speed 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 https://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/ict/self-service/connect-communicate/office-365/apps/microsoft-teams/ .Training and support for how to use online systems and software will be provided during the programme induction. 

Length of the programme 

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

Additional costs 

You will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, microphone 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.  

Visas and Immigration  

If you require a visa to study in the UK, it is important that you have read the guidance provided by the International Student Support Team at the College at http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/international- students/visas-and-immigration/covid-19-and-your-immigration-status/     

Imperial has a team of specialist immigration advisers who can provide specific advice on your immigration situation and on the best options for you. They can be reached by email on international@imperial.ac.uk . It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK.   

As always, should you have any questions, please contact me or Dr Stefano Sandrone, our Senior Teaching Fellow, via Claire Bennett (claire.bennett@imperial.ac.uk), who oversees administration and we will be delighted to clarify any points that might still lack clarity. 

Thank you for choosing Imperial as the institution to undertake your postgraduate studies. We are enthusiastic about you joining our outstanding student body and look forward to welcoming you in the Autumn term, online! 

 

Witbest wishes, 

Dr Adam Hampshire 

Programme Director 

MSc Translational Neuroscience