Use the below accordions for step-by-step instructions on how to use Starfish, or you can watch our video tutorial for a full overview. Please notethe version of Starfish shown is an old one and the menu is now on the left and you can select the relevant screens from there instead of along the top bar.

How to guides

How to login to Starfish

You can log in to Starfish either directly (you still need to authenticate via Blackboard), or via the Starfish Organisation in Blackboard. The advantage of going the long way is that you can see any announcements/documentation available to you by your department.

  1. Log into Blackboard.
  2. On the top right under ‘My Organisations’, locate ‘Starfish’ and click on it.
  3. On the next page, you can click on ‘Starfish’. 
  4. You are now logged in to Starfish. The first time you log in, you will be asked to set up office hours. Please take some time to do this. If you uncheck the box you will not get this login screen again. 
  5.  The Starfish ‘Home’ page is a dashboard of activity related to your students

Tip: As you might have noticed Starfish opens within Blackboard, so if you want to return to Blackboard you can click on the icon at the top right.

How to see your students' details and raise Flags

  1. After you have logged in to Starfish, click on ‘Students’ and then ‘My Students’:
  2. You can narrow down your list of students by clicking on the ‘Connection’ drop-down box. Your options in the drop-down are either:
  • Roles you have in relation to those students (e.g. ‘Show me all students to whom I am a Personal Tutor’) or
  • Courses/tutorial groups you are responsible for (e.g. ‘Show me all students in my 2nd Year Labs’).
  1. You can also search for a student by their Name, Username or CID by using the Search box
  2. To open a student folder click on the student’s name (which is blue and underlined), and then click on the ‘Tracking’ menu option on the left In here, you can see the entire list of the student’s ‘tracking items’ i.e. ‘Flags’, ‘To-Dos’, ‘Referrals’, and ‘Achievements’. Please note that you will be able to see only the items that your role allows (if you believe your permissions level is not set correctly then please contact your departmental Starfish representative.
  3. If you click on the plus symbol then you will see all the comments (called ‘Notes’ in Starfish) that have been added on that item
  4. For more options on that tracking item, you can hover your mouse over its icon and it will open the menu (if you’re using a tablet, just click on the icon)
  5. In most cases, you will want to add a ‘Comment’, ‘Assign’, or ‘Clear’ a flag. ‘Editing’ a flag edits the original details of the flag.
  6. To raise a new flag click on the ‘Flag’ button and then fill in the details
  • Select a Flag
  • If relevant, choose a Course (module or group) and a Due Date
  • You can assign this flag to a role related to the student. If unsure, please leave it as Unassigned
  • Please use the minimum amount of detail that makes sense if someone else needs to follow-up on this flag. Also note that all information entered is subject to Freedom of Information requests.
  • Here you can see which roles will have access to the details of this flag (not all roles will actually have a relation to the student eg: PG roles to a UG student). To see the full list, click on ‘More...’
  • Click ‘Save’ to raise the flag

Tip: To see the people that have a relationship set up with this student, click on the ‘Network’ tab

You can find the student’s Course Teachers and GTAs/Subject Tutors under the ‘Courses’ tab.

If you prefer, there is a video tutorial of this guide. Please notethe version of Starfish shown is an old one and the menu is now on the left and you can select the relevant screens from there instead of along the top bar.

    How to change your default login page

    1. After you have logged in to Starfish, open the menu on the left, click on the down arrow next to your name and select Institutional Profile at the top of the menu
    2. Then you can click on the ‘Login Page’ dropdown and select your preferred login page

    Tip: While you’re in your profile you can update your details that students see. This can be done by adding a picture (if there is none), and fill in the ‘General Overview’ and ‘My Biography’ boxes (this can just be a link to your PWP page). You can also fill in your office locations under the ‘Appointment Preferences’ tab.

    How to setup Appointments

    ‘Office Hours’ in Starfish is just a block of time which you define as available for your students to book appointments with you. As soon as you set it up, you will receive an ‘iCal’ calendar invitation which allows you to block that time in your personal calendar (compatible with all e-mail and calendar systems). When a student adds themselves to a slot, you will receive another iCal invitation with the student details. If you encounter any issues, please contact your departmental Starfish representative, or raise an ASK request (in the system selection choose ‘Starfish’). 

    1. Firstly, you will need to set up your available locationsAfter you have logged in to Starfish, open the menu on the left, click on the down arrow next to your name and select Appointment Preferences. Click on the ‘Appointment Preferences’ button

    Tip: While you’re in your profile (tab: ‘Institutional Profile’) you can update your details that students see. This can be done by adding a picture (if there is none), and fill in the ‘General Overview’ and ‘My Biography’ boxes (this can simply be a link to your PWP page) 

    1. Here you can Add, Edit or Delete, and finally Submit your locations. On this page, you can also change your office hour blocks (under the ‘Basics’ area in the screen). 
    2. You can then click on ‘Appointments’, and on the calendar screen you can click ‘Office Hours 
    3.  On this screen, you can specify the details of your office hours (which in Outlook we would call a ‘recurring appointment’). As soon as you submit, it will send an iCal invitation via email which allows you to save it in your Outlook (or any other calendar tool you use).

    If you prefer, there is a video tutorial of this guide. Please notethe version of Starfish shown is an old one and the menu is now on the left and you can select the relevant screens from there instead of along the top bar.

    How to record Attendance

    1. After you have logged in to Starfish,  click on the ‘Record Attendance’ button on the top of your Homepage or you can go via the ‘Studentsmenu > ‘Attendancetab > click the ‘Record Attendance’ button
    2. You then have to select the tutorial group you want from the ‘Section’ drop-down menu. If you haven’t set a meeting time, you will need to add one by clicking on the ‘Set up meeting times now’ link
    3. If your group meets at regular times and dates, you can set up a ‘Schedule’. If not, then you can select a ‘Single meeting time

    Tip: You can add more than one schedules per tutorial group, by clicking on the ‘+ Schedule’ button. To delete a schedule you can click on the X button which is on the right-hand side. The only thing a ‘Schedule’ will do is to populate the ‘Meeting Time’ drop-down with a list of dates you can select from.

    1. If you have already set up a schedule or a single meeting time, then you can just select the ‘Meeting time’ you want from the drop-down

    Tip: Please note the ‘Recorded’ icon next to a saved session. By selecting this session you can edit that attendance record

    1. You can then select the appropriate attendance option next to each student’s name, and submit the attendance record by clicking ‘Save’:

    Tip: You can use the buttons on the right-hand side of the screen to quickly clear any selections you have made.

    1. Your attendance is now recorded and should appear below each student’s name

    Tip3/6/10/15/20/25 Absences in an Academic Year triggers an automatic flag which sends a notification to both the student and their tutor. A student’s attendance is also visible to them when they login to Starfish.

    1. To amend any schedules you have created, you need to filter on the correct tutorial group. To do this, you first need to change the top filter to ‘Active’ (so that you only see the current academic year groups), then select the group you want to amend, and finally click on the ‘Class Schedule’ button

    Tip: The same filters can also be used to filter on the list of students that are displayed in the centre of the screen. If you prefer this information in an Excel format, then you can click on the ‘Attendance Report’ button.

    If you prefer, there is a video tutorial of this guide. Please note, the version of Starfish shown is an old one and the menu is now on the left and you can select the relevant screens from there instead of along the top bar.

      Best practices

      The below explains the best practices when using Starfish with links to other policies around the College. 

      Best practices

      Best practices

      The following are in conjunction with the information in the Flags process page, and the guide on how to raise a flag mentioned earlier on this page.

      • Starfish’s main purpose is to support staff in helping the student throughout their academic life at the College.

      • Any interventions and progress on an issue should be added as ‘Comments’ on a raised flag. All flags should eventually be ‘Resolved’.
      • If a concern/issue/case has an associated file or document which holds sensitive data (e.g. Medical Report on a Word document or PDF) then that file is to be kept on the secure file repository provided by your department.
      • Students should be informed by the department about the use of Starfish, and how their information is to be used.
      • Student Achievements (or ‘Kudos’) should be recognised and added to the student’s folder whenever possible. These provide an important source of positive reinforcement and are useful when writing reference letters on behalf of the student.
      • In cases where you need to disclose the issue to another party, inform the student of who you are intending to involve, and why (eg. medical advice). Inform the student that such disclosure can be anonymous, although in some cases someone else will need to be notified (usually the Senior/PG Tutor).
      • Be aware of which other role related to the student can see the flag/note etc. you are raising, especially in the cases when the flag/note might implicate another member of staff. In those cases, the issue should be kept outside the system.
      • Students will receive an email from Starfish when they reach 3/6/10 unapproved absences recorded in an Academic Year. This has had positive results in some departments already where the Senior/Personal tutors have followed up on these, and previously undisclosed Mitigating Circumstances have come to light.  This is a good example of the benefits of the system and intervention by staff has led to more proactive support to the students.
      • The difference between a Flag and a Note is that a flag is to be resolved while a note can remain for longer periods on a student folder, and also it can be deleted. Flags are easier to track and filter on within the system.
      • When writing a reference, you can use both Achievements and the student’s Transcript which should be attached on the student folder (for continuing students).
      • Please take special care when you download files from the system which hold sensitive data (e.g. reports, files from a student folder) – ensure they are deleted from your local or shared drive after you have finished working with them. In general, avoid opening a file directly from your browser as you do not control where the browser saves it - always do a 'Save As' so you have control of the save location.
      • Also, be mindful when you are copy/pasting information out of the system. In general, avoid exchanging sensitive information via email, as it is not considered a secure means of communication. Starfish should be used instead as the central repository for that type of information. If there is a member of staff that should be in this student’s Circle of Care, then please contact your departmental Starfish representative.
      • The Starfish ‘Organisation’ in Blackboard (top right on your Blackboard dashboard) is managed by your departmental Starfish representative and might hold useful information/forms/policies etc.
      • Civil & Environmental Engineering is using the system to track PhD milestones. This allows students and supervisors to track their progress towards completion of their degree requirements and upcoming deadlines.

      Links to College policies and other areas of best practice


      I can’t see any of my students, or they are not the right students?

      There is something wrong with your staff-to-students relationships. Please contact your departmental representative.

      I get a “You do not have access” message?

      You have no role assigned in Starfish. Please contact your departmental representative. If your department is not listed, then it is not using Starfish yet.

      What browsers are supported?

      We advise everyone to use the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. Safari and Opera are also supported but you might have to work through the steps explained below. Internet Explorer is no longer supported. 

      For any browser issues, you are first advised to clear your browser’s ‘cache’ and ‘cookies’ (please see how to clear cookies at the bottom of the use of cookies page). If you are still having issues, then you should contact the ICT Service Desk


      If you are using Safari then you may get a “Your Starfish session has expired” error. In that case, you need to temporarily enable ‘3rd party cookies’.

      1. Go to the Safari ‘Preferences…’ and then navigate to the 'Privacy' area.
      2. Then in the 'Block cookies' section select 'Never'
      3. You will then need to login once to Starfish (so that the cookie is created)
      4. Finally, you can go back and re-select the option 'From third parties and advertisers', which will enable again the blocking of 3rd party cookies (always allowing 3rd party cookies can be a security threat, so our recommendation is to switch this back).