Teaching 2020

Key information for new and continuing undergraduate and postgraduate taught students on teaching, learning and academic support at the School of Engineering in the 2020/21 academic year, as we adapt to the circumstances created by Covid-19.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the School of Engineering for the new academic year, which begins with Welcome Week on Monday 14 September.

Here in the School of Engineering, we have been working hard over summer to adapt to the new conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The safety of our students and staff remains our first priority. Therefore, in response to ongoing Scottish Government guidance, and drawing on the best available teaching and learning practice, we have developed a 'hybrid' approach for teaching and learning during the 2020/21 academic year.

Here is some key information for new and continuing undergraduate and postgraduate taught students, on what to expect during the next academic year.

Additional guidance for all taught students in the School of Engineering can be found on the ETO Hub here.  The ETO Hub contains the detailed information you will need to navigate your studies, and who to contact to access support.

Detailed course information is made available to students on each of our courses via the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learn.

If you're unable to find the answer you're looking for here, please email: DoLT.Eng@ed.ac.uk

Key Information for New and Continuing Students

Hybrid teaching is a flexible blend of digital learning accessed online complemented by in-person teaching on campus, subject to current physical distancing requirements.

This style of teaching is designed to be flexible enough to offer you the best teaching and learning experience possible during the ongoing pandemic. It requires us all (staff and students alike) to pull together and engage positively – whether we are on or off campus.

Due to physical distancing, the course content that would usually have been delivered through an in-person lecture will be taught through other formats for the majority of our courses. Depending on the course, these formats will typically include a mixture of:

  • specially created video content
  • written materials
  • additional content to support self-study
  • live-streamed lectures where appropriate (for example in the case of guest lectures)

All course material will be made available to you through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learn, in advance of the course schedule, so that you can watch it at a time convenient for you, wherever you are in the world.

Course materials will remain available to you throughout your time as a student with us.

Small-group teaching will take place on-campus, and will be included in your student timetable. Social distancing means that we have to work within strict building capacity limitations, so students will be scheduled for in-person attendance at a proportion of the on-campus activities available for their course. For the remaining activities, and for those unable to be on campus, you will be able to attend online.

Will seminars be live and interactive for all students?

Where possible, seminars will be live and interactive, whether you are attending in-person or digitally. The methods of interaction will naturally be a bit different for those who are in-person to those joining digitally, but our aim is that all will be able to participate equally.

Depending on the type of activity being held in a seminar, all students will be encouraged to participate live, whether they are joining in-person or digitally. In some cases where group work is taking place, groups will be formed from a mix of students who are joining in person and online. In other cases, such work may be arranged differently.

How can off-campus students in different time zones take part in seminars?

If you are unable to attend a scheduled event due to a time zone difference, or for other reasons, you will be able to watch a recorded version of the event, or in some cases participate in a repeated session. Seminar recordings will be available to all students on the course for review after the event.

The School of Engineering is not able to provide access for taught students to practical and experimental laboratories in Semester 1. This is due to current physical distancing requirements and the high level of occupancy required in many laboratory classes.

Safe access to our practical and experimental labs is not currently possible for teaching and so we have adapted our Semester 1 courses to reflect this.  If your taught course involves practical and experimental laboratory classes, these will be delivered digitally.  More information about how these courses will be delivered will be explained for each course, on its Learn page.

If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student who is undertaking a final year project, it will unfortunately not be possible to carry out work in our laboratories.  You will work with your supervisor to develop a plan to complete your project without the need to carry out any experimental work in a laboratory. 

The School will review this situation in Week 6 of Semester 1, taking into account University and Scottish Government guidance.

If your course involves computer laboratory classes, these will be delivered digitally in Semester 1.  Safe access to our computer labs is not currently possible for teaching and so we have adapted our Semester 1 courses to suit this.  More information about how these courses will be delivered will be explained on your Learn pages.

This is due to social distancing requirements, combined with the high level of demand for access, and the need to convert some of these labs to hybrid teaching spaces.  We will continue to review this situation, with the hope of reopening computer labs to students as soon as we are safely able to do so.

The School of Engineering’s “welcome back” events will take place from Monday 14 to Friday 18 September 2020.

Details of these events can be found on the University’s Events app, or on the Students 2020-2021 guidebook here.

The School's talks will run online using Blackboard Collaborate.  You can find guidance on how to access and use Blackboard Collaborate on the Information Services website here.

You will be able to access your personalised timetable as normal through your Office 365 calendar. 

Your timetable will be automatically published to your calendar during Welcome Week and Week 1.  Some classes will take slightly longer to appear as you will need to be allocated in to groups.

You can find more information about the University’s Timetable on My Phone service here.

Because of our change this year to a hybrid teaching approach, which mixes digital learning with in-person teaching on campus, your timetable will look a little different to what you may have seen if you have studied with us before.

All courses will include teaching which takes place via digital platforms, and which is accessible from your course’s Learn page.  Content that would usually have been delivered through an in-person lecture will be delivered online (see the section on this page on Lectures for more information).

Further information will be given to you by your Course Organisers at the start of the semester.

All of our on-campus teaching activities are being carried out in line with Scottish government guidance

To help limit the spread of Covid-19, please make use of the following measures which have been provided for the health and safety of our students, staff and the wider Edinburgh community.

Access to Engineering buildings:

Please only enter a building where you have a scheduled activity.  Please do not come to campus if you have any Covid-19 symptoms, feel unwell or have been asked to self-isolate.

Access to spaces within our buildings is being carefully controlled, due to social distancing measures (of 2 metres).  We need to ensure that we don’t exceed our maximum building occupancy levels, which take into account scheduled classes, as well as other users.

  • Detailed signage is provided to help you navigate around buildings, find hand washing and sanitising stations, and other facilities such as toilets.
  • Please use the designated entrances and exits for buildings, which may be different to those you are familiar with (see a link to maps below).
  • On entry to, and prior to exit from, a building please either thoroughly wash your hands or use the hand sanitiser provided.
  • Movement between linked buildings must be avoided.  A building must only be entered using its designed entry and exit points.
  • When moving around each building one-way and two-way systems are in place.  These are indicated by frequent signage throughout each building, which must be adhered to. 
  • In some areas, movement is allowed in both directions.  If this is the case, it will be indicated by the signage and you must always follow the instructions given in these areas.  
  • Anyone with a disability can travel against the flow indicated by the signage.  Lifts should not be used, except if you have a disability.  Please remember that not all disabilities are visible.
  • External queueing zones for access to teaching spaces are in place for the Sanderson, Fleeming Jenkin, Alrick and Hudson Beare buildings.  These queues will be managed by queue handlers to minimise overlap between groups being taught.

More detailed information, including building plans and the locations of building entry and exit points is provided on the ETO Hub here (University login required).

Other safety measures:

  • Hand sanitiser stations are located at each entry and exit point, and hand-washing facilities are signposted in each building.  Please make sure you wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser before and after touching surfaces and using equipment.
  • University cleaners are attending the building more frequently and are regularly cleaning common touchpoints including door handles, hand rails and lifts throughout the common areas of the buildings.
  • Teaching spaces will be thoroughly cleaned, early in the morning and again during the lunch break.
  • Cleaning agent and paper towels will be available in every teaching space for students and staff to clean down the area they have been using at the end of each session.
  • Perspex screens will be provided on the lecturer’s podiums to provide additional assurances to both staff and students.
  • Windows and doors (where not fire doors) will be opened to increase natural ventilation, where appropriate.  Students are therefore advised to bring an extra layer of clothing with them.

Every one of us in our University community holds a responsibility for slowing the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).  We must all follow guidelines to meet that obligation.

To help you to understand your responsibilities, the University has published the Good Citizen Guide.  It explains more about your responsibilities as a member of the University community living in Scotland, where government guidelines are different to those in the rest of the UK, and internationally.

Those who fail to follow the guidelines might find themselves in breach of University regulations, including the University’s Code of Student Conduct.

Covid-19 Support Service

The University’s Covid-19 Support Service will support all students who need to self-isolate while living in private accommodation.  If you are living in student accommodation, support will be provided by the Residence Life team.

You can find out what you need to do if you need to self-isolate when you arrive in Edinburgh, or because you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, on the University’s Covid-19 Support Service webpage here.  

This page includes links to forms to complete if you are self-isolating in either student or private accommodation.

Protect Scotland app

The University encourages students and staff to download the free Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland's Test and Protect service.  The app alerts users if they have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for Covid-19.  And if a user tests positive, it can help determine contacts that they may have otherwise missed, while keeping everyone's personal information private and anonymous.

Keeping your location and method of study up-to-date

The University has asked you to tell us your location and how you are engaging with your studies (e.g. digitally or partially in-person) as part of annual registration.  It is important that we have a record of your location and method of study, and that you update us if your situation changes, so we can provide you with the best possible support throughout the year.

You can record a change to your location or method of study by completing this online form (University login required).

In line with Scottish Government advice, staff and students: 

  • must wear a face covering in campus shops, libraries and study spaces unless a relevant exemption applies*;  
  • are expected to wear a face covering in areas of the School where it may be more difficult to achieve 2m distancing, such as corridors and toilet facilities, unless a relevant exemption applies*;  
  • may wear a face covering in School rooms, but it is not mandatory where 2m distancing is in place. All activities currently authorised to take place in School buildings are on the basis of 2m distancing being in place;   

* Details of relevant exemptions can be found on the Scottish Government website.  Those exempt under the guidance and regulations do not have to prove their exemption and should not be made to wear a face covering or be denied access [to public transport or shops].  We ask for people to be aware of the exemptions and to treat each other with kindness.
A face covering can be a covering of any type (except a face shield or visor) that covers the mouth and nose. It is recommended that it be made of cloth or other textiles and should be two, and preferably three layers thick, and through which you can breathe.   
Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. Transparent face coverings which assist communication for those who rely on lip reading and facial expressions can also be worn.  
Read the BBC’s instructions on how to make cheap and effective masks.  



Your health and wellbeing continues to be of utmost importance.  The University’s wellbeing services are here to support you as usual; however, they are working remotely in line with the rest of the University and Scottish Government guidelines.

Find out more about the University’s Health and Wellbeing resources and services here, including how to contact them.

2020/21 will see an increased reliance on technology to support all aspects of teaching and learning.  It is important that you are aware of our technology requirements and how you can access help.

You can find recommendations for IT equipment and software on the Information Services website here.  This includes support if you do not have this equipment or cannot afford it.

You can find more information on digital tools for learning and study here.  This includes information on our two most-used digital meeting tools: Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams.

Whether you are on or off campus, you will be guided in your course selection during an individual meeting (in-person or digital) with your Personal Tutor during Welcome Week. 

It is recommended that you explore course options using PATH before meeting with your Personal Tutor.

You can also use the University’s Course Options Hub which explains more about choosing optional courses, including links to talks by academic staff, and how to book on to live “Student Experience” online sessions in Welcome Week.  Additional guidance will be provided by your Discipline on course options for students in years 3, 4 and 5, where these are available.

Please note: you can find similar information to that held on PATH using the Degree Regulations & Programmes of Study (DRPS) site: http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk/20-21/index.php  Degree Programme Tables (DPTs) for Engineering degrees can be found here. 

You will be able to access all of our usual academic support services including:

  • your Personal Tutor (PT): a member of academic staff who will meet with you regularly to help you review your learning, academic progress and performance; become a confident, active learner; discuss your future development and career preparation; and deal with any concerns or problems that may affect your studies or refer you to other sources of support as appropriate
  • ENGpals: a student-to-student support scheme which helps first year engineering students to make the transition to University-level learning through regular sessions run by more senior engineering students, known as Student Leaders.
  • student support officers: staff members who are there to help you with general student support enquiries, including routine advice and guidance on the School’s policies and procedures which govern your progression through your degree programme.
  • 1-2-1 academic feedback will regularly be provided throughout your degree programme

Will support be provided online or in-person?

We will hold in-person meetings between staff and students when possible and appropriate. In-person meetings will follow current government guidance, to ensure the safety of all attendees. Where an in-person meeting cannot take place, a digital alternative will be arranged.

Where will on-campus meetings take place?

All on-campus meetings will be held in rooms where government guidance and physical distancing can be followed. Safety measures will be in place, including the availability of sanitiser and cleaning products, and the operation of room cleaning regimes and one-way systems.

Find out more about how we are making our campus safe in response to Covid-19.

Study spaces will be provided by the University for students on campus.  These spaces will be subject to maximum capacity limits to ensure that safety measures and social distancing are maintained.  

In addition, a Spiegeltent will be situated on the King’s Buildings campus to enable students to meet for socialising and studying safely between classes.  You can find out more about accessing the University’s library spaces and facilities on the Library website.

The School of Engineering will unfortunately not be able to make any rooms available to students for self-study in Semester 1.  Some of the laboratories which would normally be available have been converted for use as hybrid teaching spaces.   Access to other space within our buildings is having to be carefully controlled to ensure that we don’t exceed our maximum building occupancy levels while running scheduled classes and research work.

The assessment arrangements for courses have been reviewed over the summer, and a number of courses have introduced coursework in addition to, or to replace, end of semester assessments.

Where an end of semester assessment is required, this will be in the form of a “take home” exam. The time you should take to complete this exam should be comparable to the amount of time you would take to complete an in-person exam, for example 90 minutes or 2 hours, but you will be given an extended period of time in which to submit your solutions (for example, 24 hours).

The best way to contact staff in the School of Engineering is by email, using your University email address.  This is also the way you can request a digital meeting, for example, with your Personal Tutor.  You can find staff email addresses on the School Staff List here.

Contacting the Engineering Teaching Organisation (ETO)

The ETO are here to support you, but in a slightly different way to last year. 

You can find out more about the different ways you can contact the ETO on the ETO Hub here (University login required).

The University has published more guidance for new and returning students on their website here:

The University also provides comprehensive information for all students on its Students home page.

You can access help through the University's new EdHelp service, which provides answers to common questions and support topics, including:

  • Accommodation;
  • Student cards;
  • Fees and funding;
  • Library and IT; and
  • Access to documents e.g. bank and council tax letters.

You can access EdHelp at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/edhelp

You can find a copy of the emails sent out to students by the Director of Learning and Teaching, Prof Tim Stratford, and the Engineering Teaching Organisation (ETO) on the ETO Hub here (University login required).