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.
Location of study
All face-to-face teaching will take place on the campus that we share with St George’s Hospital in Tooting, with appropriate social distancing measures in place.
We are not making any changes to the content of the programme.
Overall, the course in structure and content will be the same as advertised.
How the course is being delivered
The existing learning outcomes for the programme and the modules will remain in place.
For the academic year 2021/2022 students will access their learning, including learning materials, via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Canvas. In addition to this it is anticipated that year one students will attend campus twice a week for small group work, including problem-based learning, communication and clinical examination skills. 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. It is anticipated that we will also be able to deliver some lectures on site too. Please be aware that some communication skills sessions may be delivered live online. The above information may be subject to change in line with government guidance.
The online components of the course will continue to 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.
We cannot deliver anatomy and dissection room sessions on-site as we normally would, due to restrictions on room numbers. These will be delivered online, via a combination of live, pre-recorded and Q&A sessions.
Personal tutor support and all other student support, such as the Academic Success Centre, may be accessed either face to face or online. A range of methods for staying in touch, such as telephone, email and the University’s web conferencing systems BigBlueButton and MSTeams are available.
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.
We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through the programme and graduate without delay.
We assess the knowledge, skills and attributes of our students in a variety of ways. These include formal written examinations, clinical examinations and coursework assessments which include case histories (case histories are for current year 2 students only) and oral presentations. Professionalism is monitored throughout the course.
Examinations are spread out over the year. At this stage, we expect to deliver these as planned.
Our assessments (written and clinical) are designed to be taken on-site, and we plan to hold all of our assessments onsite (with the exception of formative written assessments which will be undertaken online remotely). However, where this may not be possible we have developed online assessments so that these can go ahead regardless of whether students can attend site in the coming months.
For written assessments, tasks are not changing, but will be delivered online. The impact will be limited because, although the way in which the assessment is being delivered is different, the assessment tasks, the learning outcomes that are being tested and the assessment criteria are the same. The assessments are therefore consistent with the way they were intended to be delivered.
The online assessments are also the same in terms of the challenges they present to students. The assessments are therefore consistent with the way they were intended to be delivered.
In order to maintain an inclusive and equitable approach that recognises, for example, challenging domestic circumstances and poor home internet connections, we recognise that students will need to find an appropriate environment in which to take the assessment and make sure that they have IT equipment and a reliable internet connection. This may not be possible for all students.
Our aim is to lend equipment to students if their own facilities are inadequate. We are also allowing students to apply to take their exam on-campus using a networked computer or laptop with WIFI connectivity. Students can request assistance by contacting email@example.com ideally 4 weeks before their exam if they think you will have difficulties meeting.
For clinical assessments, (where students are directly observed performing a practical or clinical skill by an examiner), these can only be delivered on campus. Assessments of a student’s ability to communicate appropriately with a patient or simulated patient can also only be delivered on-site.
At this stage, we expect to be able to deliver assessments of this kind on site. However, if government advice changes and the campus is closed, we will not be able to deliver clinical assessments as planned. In that case, it might be necessary to delay these assessments until the following academic year to protect student and staff safety. However, this could mean that graduation and subsequently entry to the PA National Examination for some final year students are delayed until they are able to complete all assessments. We have an obligation to the Faculty of Physician Associates to confirm that our students have met the clinical and practical outcomes for the programme before they apply to sit the PA National Examination.
Students undertake formative examinations in preparation for summative assessment. This provides the student with the opportunity to engage with the assessment, Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), and processes in advance of a high stakes examination. Students are also offered a practice assessment in using the VLE to familiarise themselves in a relaxed situation.
I.T, exams and administrative support are available on the day of every examination.
There is also guidance and advice online for students to engage with prior to and in preparation for assessments.
Placements and essential hands-on learning
For clinical programmes, placement providers will continue to offer placements as they have in the previous years.
Their capacity to offer placements may change if, in the event of a further outbreak of Covid-19, delivering care to affected patients becomes the overriding priority for our partners.
If that happens, we will limit the impact on students where possible.
We will rotate students through the sites that are continuing to accept students. However, there is a possibility that graduation for some final year students may be delayed until they are able to complete all placements.
A delay to placements may also impact when students can sit the PA National Examination.
Health Education England (HEE) have however stipulated that students are classed as critical workers and as such placements are expected to continue as planned for both years of the programme.
All students going on to or on placement will be expected to undertake a risk assessment, and where possible have had at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and adhere to local Trust and General Practice working patterns and guidance.
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.
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 practice.
This will also give us sufficient time to carry out a detailed assessment, obtain reports and organise additional expert assessments if required.
We do not expect students to incur any extra costs over and above those that we have advertised on the course page.
Additional cost items
PA National Examination
£595 (Sept 2021)
The cost will go up to £685 for Jan and May 2022 and then £790 Sept 2022 – students need to pass the PA national exam to practice. It is independent of the University award or programme.
We have planned for year one students to be onsite Tuesdays and Fridays for face to face teaching and in General Practice Placement on a Wednesday. Mondays and Thursdays will consist of online face to face, pre-recorded lectures and self-directed study.
Year 2 students will be onsite as far as possible for all of their year 2 days for face to face teaching (typically one day per month but may be more) which are published on Canvas at the start of Year 2.
For some of the days this may be online face to face teaching. Students will be made aware of this in advance. Otherwise students will be in clinical placement.
Consenting to these changes
At enrolment or re-enrolment you consented to the changes we anticipated as a result of the pandemic, which were outlined on the ‘Covid-19 updates’ tab of your course page at: www.sgul.ac.uk/study/courses.
The changes that we are making are the consequence of current public health advice and our need to anticipate changes to that advice. Our capacity to offer alternatives is therefore limited. We do not feel that the changes will adversely affect students.
If you wish to avoid these changes (e.g. by taking a year out from your studies) please discuss this directly with your course team in the first instance.
We remain, as always, focused on the best experience and outcomes for our students.
Making a complaint
If you have concerns about the quality of course delivery, please raise these with your course team in the first instance.
If you wish to take a more formal route, guidance is available to you in our student concerns and complaints procedure.