Advice for students following the impact of coronavirus on teaching and learning

Our latest guidance for students


The health and wellbeing of our University community is of the highest importance.

The purpose of the following information on coronavirus (COVID-19) is to keep everyone updated on the evolving situation and the University response based on the latest available information and guidance from the UK Government.

We understand that you may have many questions about coronavirus and its impact on you. You should raise questions in the first instance with your personal tutor.

If you require additional advice or support, please contact the University’s Student Hub by emailing studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or by calling +44(0)1752 587676.

How can I study remotely?

The University is committed to supporting students to study effectively from home or remotely. Please note, arrangements may vary from one programme to another.

Support and guidance for students

Software you can download for studying at home


Updated: 25 March 2020

What will happen to my sessions with tutors?

It’s vital to keep in touch with your personal tutor during this difficult time. Personal tutor sessions may take place online or by telephone. Your tutor will provide more information.

For student support issues, you can contact the Student Hub online or the Big White Wall for pastoral issues.


Updated: 25 March 2020

I have a disability – will reasonable adjustments be made?

Where students have particular needs, we will make every attempt to make appropriate adjustments to support them to continue their studies by, for example, designing alternative assessments that are inclusive.


Updated: 25 March 2020

Can I study offline?

We recognise that not all students have access to the internet or digital devices at home, and are investigating ways in which we can support you to access teaching resources. 

Please ensure that you notify your programme team of your circumstances as soon as is possible so that support can be assessed.


Updated: 25 March 2020

How are assessments and exams affected?

You should continue to prepare for assessments in the usual way as all modules will be assessed remotely. There will be no face-to-face, invigilated examinations until the end of June, at which point the University will review the situation. Alternative assessment arrangements will be put in place. Further details about your own assessments will be provided by your faculty as soon as they are available. Please note, arrangements may vary from one programme to another.

If you are studying at one of the partner institutions, please follow any advice and guidance they have given you about face-to-face, invigilated examinations and any alternative assessment arrangements. 

If your assignment cannot be submitted digitally (for example, artwork), your programme team will be in touch with details of alternative assessment arrangements.

Please continue to check this web page, the DLE and your University email for updates.


Updated: 25 March 2020

How will my module marks be calculated?

The University is undergoing a review of all module assessments taking place this semester. In some cases there may be no change to the way in which marks are calculated. In the event that any changes need to be made, you will be informed. 

This is an unprecedented situation for all universities, but we will work according to our principles:

  • maintaining the integrity of the University of Plymouth award
  • protecting the interests of students.


Updated: 25 March 2020

When will I receive my feedback and marks?

Staff are working hard to develop alternative approaches for you in these highly unusual circumstances. This may mean you will receive feedback and marks later than would normally be the case.


Updated: 25 March 2020

Do the usual extenuating circumstances apply?

Guidance for students whose personal circumstances mean they are unable to engage with teaching and assessment remotely.

In order to support you to either complete your award or progress to the next stage of your studies, we have revised the academic regulations pertaining to Extenuating Circumstances, until further notice, for those assessments that were due on, or after, Monday 16 March 2020, in recognition of the current situation. This applies for all students on undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research programmes studying at the University of Plymouth and at our partner institutions.

We strongly recommend you endeavour to meet your current published assessment deadlines. In light of the current situation, however, students that are unable to submit by those deadlines will be permitted to submit up to ten working days late without penalty. If you are unable to submit assessments within those additional ten working days, this will be recorded as a non-submission and you will be offered re-assessment without penalty (i.e. at the same attempt).

Please note, where formal, invigilated examinations are replaced by alternative time-limited assessments, there will be no opportunity to submit these assessments late. However, in the event you are unable to submit by the published deadline, you will be offered a re-assessment opportunity without penalty in the same way as you would under the standard Extenuating Circumstances regulations for a non-attendance at a formal examination.

With immediate effect, we are also removing the requirement to submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim, either self-certified or corroborated, for any assessment that was due to be submitted on or after Monday 16 March 2020. This means all students will automatically be granted Extenuating Circumstances and assessments will not be subject to any penalty as outlined above.

If you have any queries about Extenuating Circumstances please contact your faculty or partner institution.


Updated: 25 March 2020

How will the recent changes made by the University affect my progress?

Our aim is to make sure you can continue with your studies and progress at the same rate as you would with a normal teaching schedule. If you are due to complete your studies this year, we fully expect you to be able to do so.

For all students, please await further information from your faculty and school about how your learning will continue to be supported throughout this period. As you can imagine, staff are working hard to develop alternative approaches for you in these highly unusual circumstances. They may not be able to provide alternatives to all classes immediately but they will be making arrangements and communicating further details with you as soon as possible.


Updated: 25 March 2020

Are planned field trips still going ahead?

In accordance with ceasing face-to-face teaching, the University has taken the decision to cancel field trips. At this stage, this applies to all field trips up to 31 May 2020.

This is in the interest of safety for staff and students alike. There are particular risks to supervision of fieldwork groups should someone be affected by COVID-19 and concerns about quarantine overseas.

Your school will be in touch with all students with details of how we will manage this change.

Please contact your personal tutor or programme manager if you have any questions.


Updated: 25 March 2020

Can I access library resources remotely?

The library has provided information about accessing resources remotely in their latest guidance.

Learning Development has also provided guidance to online learning.


Updated: 25 March 2020

Will the University be reimbursing my tuition fees?

We have now moved to online teaching and assessments for the rest of the academic year, in keeping with the Government’s advice on limiting social interaction and non-essential travel. During this time, we are working to maintain the quality of teaching experience while you work remotely. We are focused on ensuring the defined learning outcomes and that students can either complete their studies this year or progress to the next phase of their studies.

While this is a different mode of delivery, our staff are working hard to ensure delivery and to provide support through the virtual learning environments, remote counselling, e-library, etc. The supporting infrastructures that your fees pay for remain in place.


Updated: 25 March 2020

How is my sandwich year work placement affected?

Please note that this relates only to sandwich year work placements and not placements related to specific modules (work-based learning) or professional practice subjects such as medicine, dentistry, health, and education or those enabling professional registration.

If you are on an overseas placement, we advise you to make arrangements to come home as soon as possible as any delay will increase the risk of you being unable to return to the UK. 

Regarding the duration of your placement for students on overseas and UK-based placements (that are also affected), emergency measures have been put in place. We have revised the academic regulations in relation to the award of:

  • Certificate of Professional Experience 
  • Certificate of International Professional Experience
  • Certificate of Work Experience 

For the 19/20 and 20/21 academic years, we recognise that students on 26, 36 or 48 week long sandwich year placements may not be able to complete the normal minimum placement duration as specified in the programme documentation, due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. We have therefore agreed that exceptionally the following will apply:

  • 26 weeks or more successfully completed in uninterrupted blocks of at least 12 full-time weeks – No additional action required. Certificate awarded, provided the relevant placement assessment requirements are met.

  • 12–25 weeks successfully completed in uninterrupted blocks of at least 12 full-time weeks – Student confirms details of work placement completed with the Placements Team. Placement Tutor confirms this meets the programme requirements. Certificate awarded, provided relevant placement assessment requirement are met.

  • Students will not be required to submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim for being unable to complete the normal placement duration for the relevant programme of study.

  • Students will be asked to provide additional information where between 12 and 25 weeks have been completed to ensure the minimum 12 uninterrupted weeks of work placement activity meets the programme requirements.

For further information contact the central placements team on placements@plymouth.ac.uk or call +44(0)1752 586007.


Updated: 25 March 2020

How is my work-based apprenticeship affected?

Please contact your employer about changes or disruptions to your workplace activities. They will be able to advise you on any special instructions or issues regarding where, when and how you understand your job, in line with the government guidance for employees, employers and businesses.

If you aren’t feeling well, please follow your employer’s sickness absence reporting guidelines. Please keep a record of your sickness days and contact your Apprenticeship reviewer or programme lead by email or telephone. If you are unable to speak to the programme team please contact the apprenticeship team who will support you with your enquiry: apprenticeships@plymouth.ac.uk

If you experience gaps in your learning or training for longer than four weeks due to COVID-19-related illness in the workplace or off the job learning is to be suspended for more than four weeks, this can be recorded as a break in learning. In this situation we will need to be notified by your employer sending a communication to the following inbox: apprenticeships@plymouth.ac.uk informing of your status.

Your Programme Managers will be contact with you to confirm the arrangements specific to your programme.

If you are a healthcare or essential services related apprentice we understand that you might be required to support your employers to deliver essential services during this period. In line with government policy, the University is committed to supporting affected apprentices involved in essential services while minimising any negative impact on their Apprenticeship programmes in the longer term. If you are one of these apprentices, please advise your Apprenticeship training coordinator or programme lead by email or telephone as soon as conveniently possible.


Updated: 25 March 2020

I study at a partner institution – how am I affected?

As with on-campus students, our priority is to ensure you are supported to either complete your University of Plymouth award or progress to the next stage of your studies. Please contact the programme leader at your institution for specific guidance around changes to assessments.


Updated: 25 March 2020

Safety net

The University of Plymouth Safety Net has been introduced to ensure that as long as you successfully achieve all of your modules, you will not do any worse than the position you were in as of 16 March 2020. It also provides you the opportunity to improve your grades should you achieve higher marks in the summative assessments undertaken after 16 March 2020 when the emergency measures in relation to COVID-19 were put in place.

Our aims are to ensure that:

  • progression and award decisions can still be made within normal timescales for you
  • you still have the opportunity to fulfil the required programme learning outcomes and academic standards
  • and that as much as possible, you are not disadvantaged by the current situation.

What is the safety net?

In order for the University of Plymouth Safety Net policy to apply, you must submit and successfully pass your remaining summative assessments. The Safety Net policy means the following:

  • You will not do any worse than your current stage/year aggregate mark for summative assessments completed prior to 16 March.
  • By submitting your remaining summative assessments, you will have the opportunity to improve your aggregate mark. 


In addition, the University has already: 

  • revised the approach to extenuating circumstances
  • reviewed summative assessments and amended them where learning outcomes have already been assessed or to reflect the change to online delivery of teaching and learning.

More information will follow as some areas are still being considered.


Updated: 3 April 2020

Why have we put a safety net in place?

We have designed the safety net, through conversations with staff and students, to support you to achieve the best outcome that you can, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 and your individual circumstances. We are focusing on supporting you to progress and complete your qualification, enabling you to graduate on time and move on with your career plans. This will also offer the best education for all students who are continuing with their studies in the next academic year.


Updated: 2 April 2020

Does this safety net apply to me and all students?

The safety net will apply to all foundation, top-up, undergraduate, integrated masters and postgraduate taught students. This includes students in all years of study, including finalists (a finalist is any student who is expecting to receive an award this year).

If you are a postgraduate research (PGR) student, the safety net will only apply to any taught elements of your programme (i.e. credit-rated modules), and the Doctoral College has already issued advice to PGRs related to the assessment of milestones and the submission and examination of the thesis. 

Please note, the safety net may not apply to you if your programme has professional, statutory or regulatory body requirements.


Updated: 3 April 2020

What does this mean for me if I am not on a 'normal' three-year degree programme?

If you are studying a foundation degree, top-up, Higher National, foundation year, fast-track degree, taught masters, apprenticeship, Certificate of Higher Education, Diploma of Higher Education, postgraduate certificate or diploma, or studying part-time, then the same principles will apply to you.

Where, for example, your award could be made ‘with distinction’, we are working on a mechanism to enable this calculation to be based on what you have already achieved.


Updated: 3 April 2020

Do I still have to complete remaining summative assessments?

Yes. You will still need to pass the required summative assessments in order to demonstrate you have met the programme learning outcomes and be awarded credits so that you can either progress and/or receive a qualification. Some of your assessments have changed or been removed due to the new format of learning. What the safety net will ensure is that as long as you successfully achieve all of your modules, you will not do any worse than your current position.

The safety net enables us to mitigate any negative impact on summative assessments undertaken during the period affected by COVID-19 when calculating the overall aggregate mark you receive for this affected year. If you do better in your remaining assessments, you will still benefit from this.


Updated: 3 April 2020

Will my dissertation or final project be included in the calculation of my results?

We are working on the details of the calculation and will provide more information on this question shortly.


Updated: 2 April 2020

How will this affect the calculation of my results?

We are working on the details of the calculation and will include some examples here shortly.


Updated: 2 April 2020

What happens if I fail an assessment?

As normal, decisions such as these are made by Award Assessment Boards and we are working on a set of principles for Boards to take into consideration the effects of COVID-19 on everyone for this year.


Updated: 2 April 2020

What happens if I get sick or am unable to complete one of my summative assessments?

We completely appreciate that this is an unprecedented time and that everyone is experiencing difficulties for many reasons. We will, of course, continue to support you. Please refer to the previously published information relating to Extenuating Circumstances in the section above.


Updated: 3 April 2020

When will I find out more information about the safety net?

We're working on it as quickly as we can, so more information will follow here as things progress. Please be patient and know that you will be contacted once the details have been worked out. Schools or programme teams will not have any more information at this stage, but they are there to support you if you have other questions. Please remember to contact your tutor if you are anxious or concerned.


Updated: 2 April 2020