Phone on notepadCommunicating in an online world requires etiquette for polite, professional behaviour. This ensures successful, meaningful and respectful interactions among the College community. Etiquette in an online world is often called ‘netiquette’.

Netiquette is a way of behaving when interacting with each other in any online environment. At Imperial we primarily use email, BlackBoard, Microsoft Teams and Zoom for our online communications; the guide below, however, applies to all forms of online communication.

Remember that in an online environment, it is not enough just to ‘turn up’. You will benefit more from your studies if you fully engage with online sessions. You will learn more and will get to know others better, and this will make the online environment more comfortable for everyone, including you.  

 Always make sure that the devices you use for communicating online have up to date software to ensure they are secure and that you are aware of how to protect yourself and your personal information. More information is available here.

Communication at Imperial

You should treat all communications concerned with your degree as professional communication. This includes communication online or in-person, regardless of the platform or the audience.

In practice this means:

  •  You should log on and use your given/chosen/preferred name that you use for your studies. You should not mimic staff or other students, or use a false name.
  • Give others time to communicate effectively, especially when taking part in group discussions. Interacting online can mean others may be slower to respond across a range of formats.
  • Acknowledge, recognise, and be respectful of the viewpoints, contributions and interpretations of others.
  • Think before you type or speak. Online communications can be easily misread or misinterpreted, so consider what you are saying and how you are saying it.
  • When communicating by email, use your College account, which you must also use when accessing BlackBoard (or your department’s chosen virtual learning environment), Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Try to find the answer to your question from previous communications, forum posts, BlackBoard, or the College website before you write an email or ask a question. Answers are often readily available.
  • Allegations of student misconduct can be investigated by the College. Violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening or offensive language expressed electronically is an example of student misconduct. You can report any incidents in confidence to your module leader, personal tutor or Senior Tutor (PGR).


Be respectful of others’ contributions and remember that communicating in an online environment is a strange adaptation for many of us.

If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour online, you can report this in confidence to your module leader or personal tutor.

If a student is being violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening or offensive in either their behaviour or use of language, then the College is able to investigate this under our misconduct procedures.

Other examples and source material