Our priority is to keep our students and staff safe and support their wellbeing, while protecting our community from the risks of Covid-19 on our site, based inside a hospital. We have listened to feedback and preferences from our student community about St George’s as a place to study.
We won’t be making any significant changes to the content of our programmes, but there will be some changes to the way they are delivered. Please see below for further details of how this may affect this course.
If government advice changes, we may need to update our plans, but our approach is designed to make it possible to continue with much of the on-campus teaching planned. If we do need to make changes, we will update this information, and will keep current students and offer holders informed by email.
We will also continue to update our frequently asked questions page for applicants and offer holders and current students as more information becomes available.
We are not making any significant changes to the content of the Biomedical Science MRes programme.
There is a possibility that government advice on social distancing may change in the future and this may restrict access to the campus. Even if this were to be the case, we expect to be able to continue to deliver the core modules of the programme, while the project module may be altered to include more theoretical analysis and less laboratory-generated data.
Supporting vulnerable students
Students considered to be most at risk from Covid-19 should work at home wherever possible in line with government advice. Students who are going on placement will be required to complete an individual risk assessment and others may choose to do so. In addition, students from vulnerable groups, including care leavers, students estranged from their families and students with disabilities, are prioritised for help from the University’s Hardship Funds and for accommodation in Horton Halls. Priority for loans of laptops from the University will be given to those eligible to receive a hardship grant; those registered as disabled, care leavers or with caring responsibilities; and international students who may have difficulty sourcing an appropriate device on arrival in the UK.
We recognise the impact that the current circumstances may have on mental health and have expanded our counselling provision, offering remote appointments to any student. In addition, every student will be allocated a personal tutor to offer individual pastoral and academic support from the start of their studies. (Further information about health and wellbeing advice during Covid-19 is available here.)
Priority consideration has been given to support for students with disabilities when accessing teaching and learning online, through the provision of automatic live captioning and British Sign Language within our primary technologies of Panopto, MS Teams and Big Blue Button. These can benefit a range of students, especially those who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as students with an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), memory processing issues, and for whom English is an additional language.
Human-level captioning is also available where a need has been established through the Disability Advisory team. Human-level captioning requests are processed by the Learning Technology Services (LTS) section and can be requested by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How the course will be delivered
The existing learning outcomes for our modules and courses will remain in place. From September to December 2020 all students will primarily access their learning, including learning materials, via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Canvas. Hands-on practical teaching and learning activities will be delivered on campus with appropriate social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) measures put in place, and with controls on the number of people in each location.
The online components of the course will be designed to balance interactive real-time sessions with lecturers and other students, with self-paced independent study. Students will have clear learning pathways through the activities they are expected to engage with, and there will be opportunities to check learning and progress.
Personal tutor support and all other student support, such as the Academic Success Centre, will also be online for this period, using a range of methods for staying in touch, such as telephone, email and the University’s web conferencing systems BigBlueButton and MSTeams.
Pending Health Education England (HEE) approval, placements are currently expected to resume from September 2020 with minimum changes to planned delivery or timings. All students on placement will be expected to undertake a risk assessment and adhere to local Trust working patterns and guidance.
To get the most from online study, hardware requirements have been established and communicated to all existing students and offer holders. Students will need their own personal computer or laptop and an internet connection in their place of accommodation. This needs to be in place at the start of the course. Once enrolled, students will have the ability to use Office 365 as part of our institutional licence, and access software required for their modules/courses via AppsAnywhere. In addition, we offer Office for Mac via Ofice365, but only the following applications are available for Mac: Teams, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneNote. Web-based Office applications are available on Mac. Full details are available here. There is a provision for students who may struggle to meet the hardware requirements to contact our IT Hardship team.
Students with pre-existing illnesses or disabilities, or who are shielding
If you suffer, or have suffered, from a serious illness (physical or psychological) or have a disability, or have been required to shield due to Covid-19, please let us know. St George’s is committed to supporting our students and will explore all reasonable adjustments to support you to thrive on your course.
Please contact our Disability Advisor as soon as possible with details to help us establish whether your health history or disability is likely to affect your ability to study or practise. This will also give us sufficient time to carry out a detailed assessment, obtain reports and organise additional expert assessments if required.
Attendance at site
Most of our courses include elements of teaching for which you will be required to attend the University site. Attendance at these sessions will be essential to enable you to engage with the course and undertake assessments.
You will be required to undertake a personal risk assessment before you can attend any placement that is part of your course (or undertake certain other activities, such as those which include the practice of clinical skills or require the use of PPE). Where a health concern arises, every effort will be made to identify alternative placement arrangements, but your health and safety will be the first priority, and alternative arrangements may not be possible. This may have implications for the continuation of your study. If you are clinically vulnerable or have been shielding, we strongly encourage you to contact the Disability Advisor now to undertake an assessment.
Incoming students (starting September 2020)
At this stage, we expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable students to complete the course within one academic year.
Although some assessments are designed to be taken on-site, we have developed an alternative strategy to enable students to complete assessments remotely without coming on to campus.
This programme does include a research project module which requires students to spend 6–9 months in a laboratory. Research projects can start as late as the beginning of January, and these will run as planned in 2020/21 with appropriate social distancing measures in place.
There is a possibility that government advice on social distancing may change. If that is the case, we will endeavour to delay the start of the project and will grant students the necessary extensions to complete their programme. Alternatively, we will allow students to choose to switch from a laboratory-based project to theoretical analysis, enabling them to complete the course on time.
The current cohort of Biomedical Science MRes students were required to pause their research projects from 25 March to 20 June 2020, while all other teaching and assessments moved online. During the interruption, students were offered a choice to either return to their research projects when Covid-19 measures allowed, or to convert to theoretical projects without the need to return to laboratory. All students were offered extensions to adjust to these changes and both options were taken. As a result, the converting students will graduate within the original course timelines, while the students who chose to complete their projects will graduate three months later.
We will continue to offer research projects that enable students to work with professional research groups tackling real medical and health problems. We expect to offer laboratory-based projects with appropriate social distancing measures in 2020/21. Our capacity to do so may change if government guidelines change. However, we will strive to ensure that alternative arrangements are in place to enable students to complete on schedule, such as, for example, conversion of their laboratory research project to one based on theoretical analysis.