Your Learning

New and returning students

We understand that some of you may be anxious about starting or returning to University because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy, and we are working hard to ensure that the campus is a safe environment for you to come to. We’re also working hard to ensure there is help, advice and support for those who may be shielding or have other concerns.

There will be a Welcome To Bucks and Welcome Back To Bucks area of the Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) where all information including welcome videos and recorded sessions can be found.

New students – Your virtual Welcome Week kicks off on Monday 21 September 2020 with our academic Schools holding welcome conferences on campus for all new students. You will be introduced to your course, find out what is expected of you, and what you can expect from the University throughout your time at Bucks. We also have sessions to support you with your study and career aspirations, discover our library, learn more about our support services, enjoy activities and events with Bucks Students’ Union. You will have access to online workshops to promote student success, demos of our virtual learning environment - Blackboard, small group tours of campus, among other things.

Did you know you can check out our facilities at all three of our campuses from the comfort of your own home? Get exploring your campus virtually here. But please note, when you arrive on campus things may look a little different with signs telling you where to walk, safety screens and other safety measures in place.

Returning students - Our new academic year kicks off on Monday 28 September 2020 with ‘Welcome back to Bucks’ online sessions to support you with your study and career aspirations, rediscover our library and its services, learn more about our support services, refresh yourself with Blackboard, and enjoy activities and events with Bucks Students’ Union. When you return to campus things will look a little different to your last visit, with signage promoting COVID-safe practices, safety screens and other safety measures in place.

We are planning that all students will have as much in-person face-to-face teaching as possible in Semester 1. However, we have made the decision that there will be no large in-person lectures on campus. This is so that we can ensure the safety of staff and students using appropriate social distancing protocols. Even if a further relaxation of social distancing has occurred, we need to timetable to maintain social distancing in case of a return in restrictions due to spike in infections, either locally or nationally.

Some smaller lectures may be able to take place on campus, and larger lectures can take place online using our online learning platform Blackboard Collaborate. All our course teams have used the summer period to re-design their modules using a hybrid approach designed around both in-person and online teaching. We will update you on your timetable and what this means for you in the week commencing 21 September.

All students will have an opportunity to meet their personal tutor within the first month of Semester 1 teaching. We are planning that this will take place face-to-face wherever possible, but also understand that this may not be possible in some cases. Where an alternative is needed, we will ensure that you get an opportunity for a one-to-one phone or video call instead. Personal tutors will be available throughout Semester 1 and there will be regular opportunities to catch up with them.

We understand how important it is to you that you have opportunities to come into campus for teaching and learning and to meet and learn with other students. Safety remains our key priority, and with current UK Government guidelines in mind, we are working hard to put timetables together as quickly as possible. As you can imagine, this has taken us a little longer than usual to work out.

The number of in-person hours of contact will differ between student groups, depending on the course you are studying. You will be provided, through a combination of in-person and online opportunities, with all the classes, guidance and support you need to engage in your learning experience.

You can now access your timetable under the ‘My Timetable’ tab in Blackboard or by following this link. Please use this guide to help you navigate around the timetable section.

If you have any questions about your timetable, please read these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) first.

If the FAQs do not answer your question, please contact your school’s registry officer or email and we’ll do everything we can to help you.

Our course timetables are designed with a number of principles in mind. The first is the safety of our staff and students. We also want to reduce the number of times you have to come on to campus for very short periods, are keen to reduce strains on public transport and wish to make sure we don’t overload the campus while social distancing measures remain in place. We can’t give you a firm number of days at the moment, but this will be provided when timetables are published.

It depends. Your module tutors will be recording live sessions (or aspects of them) if it is appropriate and practical to do so. However, please note, we are encouraging staff to design live sessions to be as interactive or practical as possible – whether in-person or online – to make the most of timetabled learning opportunities. Highly interactive or practical sessions are generally less easy to record, and less accessible and difficult to follow when recordings are watched back.

Where a recording of the live session is not available or practical, details about the session - its activities, any short video clips, any required outcomes and any post-session reflections – will be made available online. This is particularly important for anyone who cannot take part in the live session and is also a helpful and inclusive learning resource for those who could attend.

Your tutor will record your attendance at a session and this information will be used to undertake ‘Track and Trace’ should you or member of staff test positive for COVID-19. Please ensure that the tutor knows of your presence in the session so that they can record your attendance. Your cooperation and patience while this is done will be much appreciated.

To avoid long socially distanced queues in corridors, all in-person face-to-face teaching sessions will start promptly on the hour, and will complete promptly 10 minutes before the end of the timetabled session. This will mean that you will be able to leave a session in a socially distanced way at 10 minutes to the hour and other students will be able to arrive and enter the room rather than queue in the corridor on the hour.

All our student support services will be fully operational in Semester 1 and all students have access to support and help when they need it. We will offer a mixture of online and face-to-face services to ensure we are responsive to all our students at their point of need. Please visit our website for all the support that is available for you.

You must ensure that the Student Centre and your Personal Tutor know that you are self-isolating. If you are feeling well and can continue with your learning, our staff are working to create support materials to help you to engage with your learning wherever you are. These won’t be an exact replica of any sessions that you have missed, but will include enough information and materials to ensure that you don’t fall behind during your period of self-isolation.

The support materials will necessarily differ between courses, due to the different teaching approaches they adopt and the topics under study, so please talk to your tutor to find out what is on offer for you and how best to engage with it. Please also remember that if you feel your learning has been negatively impacted by your absence you will be eligible to apply for mitigating circumstances.

In the first instance you can go to the Academic Advice pages for current students.

You should check your assignment brief for details of how to submit your assessed work. Most assessed work will be submitted online this semester.

Returning students

Every year at Examination Boards, your grades are considered against regulations to confirm whether you have passed the year, progressed to the next level of study, or achieved your award. In 2019-20. This year we used additional regulations, alongside our normal regulations, as a safety net. Each Examination Board was able to use the best measure, allowed under the regulations, for your individual situation. We called this our ‘No Detriment’ approach. It was designed to address any negative impacts caused by the emergency COVID-19 situation, whilst making sure standards were maintained.

As with all other Universities, and to ensure the validity of our awards, we also worked to ensure that our decisions were in line with the broader Higher Education sector and Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body requirements.

Under the No Detriment Policy, an aegrotat pass was given where a module (up to 30 credits) had a failed mark. This gave you a safety net and allowed you to pass and progress without having to take reassessment. 

An aegrotat is a pass that overrides the mark you have for the module. You have been awarded the credits for the module as in the Exam Board’s view you had met the learning outcomes for the programme. Aegrotat modules will be excluded from the calculation of your final weighted average, so for programmes where a proportion of Level 5 marks contribute to your final average, only the modules completed will count, and the aegrotat has no negative effect.

The No Detriment Policy allows you to take the assessments during the 2020-2021 next academic year where possible and practicable. While students who were given an aegrotat pass at Level 5 of an Honours degree at the summer 2020 Boards could potentially see benefits in terms of their eventual overall weighted average when they get to award stage, the aegrotat pass could have benefits too, in that the marks for that module are excluded from the calculation. 

Foundation Year and Level 4 module marks are not included in the overall calculation of final grade/degree classifications, so taking assessments from aegrotat modules at these levels will make no difference to your final grade at award stage. 

You must contact your tutor to discuss taking assessments from an aegrotat module before 16 October 2020. Students at Partner institutions must contact their tutor locally. You will submit under the same assignment brief as originally set in 2019-20 and be given a date to submit: remember you must only submit assessment elements where the mark is 39 or below, or which you did not submit first time round. The submission date may be during your next academic year, up to the end of the first term, but this does not stop you from progressing on your programme: where you have been told that you can go into your next year/Level/Stage, taking assessments from an aegrotat module will not prevent your progression or change your status.

If your mark remains the same or is lower than the original submission, no changes will be made to your academic record and the aegrotat will remain in place. Where the marks are higher, changes will be made on your academic record and this will show on your next transcript. You will be notified if such a change would lower the year average calculated with the aegrotat, and you may then choose to retain the aegrotat.

It is important that you meet the requirements of the PSRB at all stages of an accredited course. So – in line with all other universities – we haven’t been able to apply some elements of our ‘no detriment approach’ or compensation in the same way across all of our courses. Your course team can help you to understand if this applies to your course. Where compensation cannot be used, and you have had to be reassessed, it will be for the full mark rather than a capped one where the reassessment was set in the 2019-20 academic year.

The University provides a package of support for students who have interrupted their studies. You will still have access to the virtual learning environment, restricted access rights to the Library as an external borrower and, after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, general access to University buildings.

This includes visiting the Students’ Union facilities, school offices, and Gateway building, but excludes labs, workshops and classrooms.