Teaching and learning handbook: S-Z

Teaching and learning resources S to Z


S3 Student Support System: S3 offers a wide range of online support services including: attendance monitoring/reporting (at module, stage and programme level), access class/programme lists/MAPs with overlaid attendance alert data, management and reporting of student assessment and marks, Markbook marks upload service (uploading marks from a spreadsheet directly into Markbook), module analytics (module marks over time with cohort analysis), peer review management, personal tutee management and UCAS applications/decisions data.

S3 has an extensive guidance and instructions:


 The documents below illustrate some S3 features:

SEEC level descriptors: the Southern England Consortium for Credit Accumulation (SEEC) provide a description of levels of learning through a hierarchy of knowledge and skills.

Scheme of work: prepared for each module, or part of a module. It lists the sessions, their dates, the main outcomes or aims being addressed in each session; the activities and crucially how they relate to formative and summative assessment.

Session plan: there is no required method/format for planning sessions. They enhance teaching practice and should contain:

  • session aims
  • intended learning outcomes
  • inputs
  • learning activities
  • timings
  • resources.

Examples can be found in the designing programmes and modules guidance.

7 Steps series: a useful series of leaflets promoting  hints and tips that can be incorporated into academic practice.

SHINE: is a stand alone, self-help website which grew out of a partnership between staff from Academic Partnerships, the Student Counselling & Personal Development Service, Partner College students and postgraduate research students. SHINE is a web based, self-help resource to enable non-campus (and on-campus) students and staff access to high-quality psychological e-resources.
The SHINE website categorises student and staff friendly content. Students and staff can watch, read, listen, find apps and useful links to the best online resources and information about mental health and well-being.

Significant personal, health or emotional issues, student: if a student is experiencing a temporary significant personal issue which affects assessment, use the extenuating circumstances policy and procedure.

Guidelines for action if you are concerned that the student is at risk.

If a student is experiencing multiple personal, illness, emotional or domestic issues which are affecting learning, assessment and progress they need to talk with the programme leader and faculty registrar to ensure the correct support is identified. The student can also visit the UPSU advice centre or counselling

Social anxiety, shyness, student: if a student has concerns about integration, delivery of presentations, has social anxiety or is very shy, Student Counselling or Learning Development can offer support.

Telephone the Learning Gateway on +44 1752 587676.

Social media communications: the University has comprehensive guidance on social media and networks on the staff intranet. This includes information about the use of Facebook, Twitter etc.

When using social media you should be mindful of data protection, copyright and intellectual property rights. Use of the University logo effectively endorses a page, blog, comment or tweet. Posts on social media sites should be professional and respectful in tone. If you are posting on behalf of the University, or even in the capacity of a member of the University, what you say will reflect on our reputation.

If you have concerns about harassment or abuse on a social media site, report it immediately to your line manager who will seek advice from the faculty registrar and the complaints and appeals manager.

Students can seek advice about problems and issues relating to social media both on and off campus from the UPSU advice centre.

SPACE: Staff Student Partnership for Assessment Change and Evaluation (Waterfield and West 2006). This project explored inclusive assessment in HE was a HEFCE funded Project of eight HEIs in the South West of England, co-ordinated and managed by the Disability Services (DS) at the University of Plymouth. The project produced a toolkit as a resource for change and has been a key driver for change in assessment at Plymouth. 

SSTAR awards: organised by students with the Students' Union to reward the many excellent staff members and dedicated course reps at the University of Plymouth.

Staff Counselling: Free and confidential staff counselling can now be accessed directly through Care First which offers a 24/7 helpline and online service, and access to a range of resources focused on health and wellbeing. For further information go to the Health and Wellbeing pages and click on the Employee Assistance Programme link. For telephone counselling and information phone 0808 168 2143.

Student advice centre: a free, confidential and independent advice centre, to help students with any problems they may have. All UPSU advice centre staff are professionally trained and can offer advice on a range of issues, including academic, housing, financial or personal. The centre is open 52 weeks of the year. To get in touch students can email advice@su.plymouth.ac.uk or call +44 1752 588373.

Student conduct and disciplinary procedure: this policy provides a framework for regulation of students' behaviour and applies to all students.

Student engagement: Student engagement is vital for academic success. We expect all Plymouth students to become effective independent learners, to be active learners, making the most of the opportunities the University provides, working in partnership with our academic and professional staff. Further guidance, information and reports on student engagement from the Higher Education Academy.

Student Gateway: student services including student life and learning.

Student Handbook: an A to Z guide of useful information and student-focused services.

Student illness in a teaching room: if there is an incident involving vomiting or other bodily fluids in any teaching space please phone the Campus Support Service on +44 1752 588600, they'll alert Cleaning Services. In an emergency contact Security on +44 1752 853333 for assistance.

Student jobs: if a student is seeking part time work they should contact Student Jobs in the Learning Gateway in Roland Levinsky Building.

Student partnerships:

Student perception survey (SPQ): the University's annual in-house student feedback survey. Detailed spreadsheets can be assessed through CIS.

Student-related regulations, policies and procedures. This page is a one-stop shop for all student related regulations, policies and procedures

Student Safeguarding: The University has an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of its students. The Safeguarding Policy outlines the approach to safeguarding at the University of Plymouth, and explains what to do in the event of a concern about a student.

Student-self assessment tool: a self-evaluation tool to support and assist with personal tutoring - this online self-assessment tool (PU staff and students) - set up in Moodle - evaluates students early engagement with learning. It provides automated feedback, helping to identify students at risk and directing them to appropriate resources and sources of support.

Student staff relationships: the University does not wish to prevent, or need to be aware of, liaisons between staff and students. It does however rely upon the integrity of both parties to ensure that abuses of power do not occur. 

Student Support Document (SSD): contains information about a students additional support needs:

Information includes:

  • course information
  • details about any disclosed disability or condition
  • the recommended modified assessment provision (MAPs)
  • indicates whether a student has an enabler to assist them.

The SSD is sent to the faculty, the exams office and library special support services. It is then circulated to academic and support staff on a need-to-know basis. SSDs are sent for distribution to departmental staff via faculty offices. Contact Disability Services at the Learning Gateway for further advice by email on ds@plymouth.ac.uk, or telephone +44 1752 587676

Assessment and re-assessment of needs can take place throughout the academic year therefore the SSD is subject to change.

Student Support Services: an A-Z webpage of Support Services available at Plymouth to staff and students

Students Union Advice Centre (UPSU): delivers a range of services for students. These include events, representation, engagement, campaigning, advice, support, societies, sports, shop, food and drink, volunteering and community partnership. Contact UPSU on +44 1752 588388 or email info@upsu.com.

Student Voice: the University of Plymouth gathers the student voice both formally and informally through multiple mechanisms. The insights drawn from different sources help us to understand and reflect on the student experience and to prioritise where our actions should be made when seeking to develop new initiatives and make enhancements to current services and provision. Guidance for staff on gathering and actioning student voice. 

Student wellbeing, concerns: The University of Plymouth supports students through a range of services. The Learning Gateway, the Student Handbook and the SHINE web pages all signpost to areas of support.

Guidelines for action if you are concerned a student is at risk. 

Study abroad: when a student enquires about studying abroad within an academic year; if it is not part of the degree programme they need to speak with the programme leader, faculty office and the International Office. Students also need to explore any funding implications with the faculty office or UPSU Student Advice Centre.

Study skills: learning development offer a range of student support services including, online resources, one-to-one or group tutorials and a drop in zone in the library. Or visit the Learning Gateway for more information.

Study skills (progression students): this resource has been developed to support all students progressing from Partner Colleges to top up (honours degree) at the University of Plymouth. 

Study and Wellbeing Review policy  (formerly Fitness to Study) and it provides a three-stage framework to guide practice in directing students to appropriate support, and to determine in a timely fashion what actions are needed where health, wellbeing or Fitness for Study concerns. Guidance notes for staff  Guidance notes for students

Subject Benchmark Statements are part of the QAA Quality Code - Part A: Setting and maintaining academic standards.

Subject Benchmark Statements set out expectations about standards of degrees in a range of subject areas. They describe what gives a discipline its coherence and identity, and define what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding or competence in the subject.

Submission of coursework: this guidance document covers the submission of summative assessment for all taught modules. This should also be considered good practice for formative assessment and should be followed where appropriate. Comprehensive information on eSubmission for staff and students is also available on the Help and Guidance pages on the DLE. 

Support in times of crisis  phone numbers and information for crisis events

Suicidal student: if you are concerned that a student may have suicidal thoughts you must urge them to contact their GP or make an appointment with student counselling through the Learning Gateway or on +44 1752 587676.

Guidelines for action when dealing with students experiencing emotional, mental health difficulties and are at risk. 

If urgent, suicidal students can go to Accident and Emergency (24 hours) and request a mental health assessment. If you need to speak with someone because you are concerned about a student’s immediate well-being or safety, you can contact:

If you are seriously concerned and believe the student is at risk of serious harm to themselves or others, is violent, has taken an overdose or seem out of touch with reality, phone 999 and the emergency internal phone number 3333 or from a mobile phone +44 1752 583333. You should also discuss any concerns with your line manager.

SUM UP: a drop-in service for students from any discipline who need a support with mathematics and statistics skills 

Supervising students (undergraduates): students benefit from having clear and effective procedures in place for the successful operation of the dissertation module. The Supervising Student Dissertations PU guidance is pitched at the level of basic good practice and acknowledges that in many Schools there'll be procedures which exceed the threshold standards outlined. The guidelines also acknowledge the diversity of practice which quite properly reflects different disciplinary cultures and expectations. 

Supervising students (postgraduates): the Doctoral College provides a programme of training and information about the supervision of postgraduates


PGCAP module on sustainability education. 

Sustainability and community engagement.

For further information and support with embedding sustainability into your teaching, please contact Centre for Sustainable Futures


Tallis Aspire: is an electronic reading list system. It can provide easy access to all resources for students, embedding resources directly into the lists. Tallis Aspire is easy to add and edit, it allows staff to build your own library of high quality resources using and reusing single resources. It is launched from the DLE. Guidance and training sessions to assist with the use of Tallis Aspire are available.

Teaching, Learning  and Quality Committees: the teaching and learning committees at programme, school, faculty and University level are responsible for the quality assurance (QA) and quality enhancement (QE) of teaching, learning and assessment practice and for the maintenance of academic standards in the programmes of the University. 

Teaching Development Framework (TDF): provides staff with the opportunity to gain Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy at one of four levels: Associate, Fellow, Senior Fellow or Principal Fellow. It was accredited by the Higher Education Academy in 2012 and aligns with the UK Professional Standards Framework.

Teaching fellowships:

Teaching and Learning: spans a number of areas across the University of Plymouth with the responsibility for the successful delivery of the institution's teaching, learning and student experience strategy.

Teaching and Learning organise a programme of workshops and events with PedRIO. They also work works with the faculties and other areas of the University to enhance and enrich our students' learning experience.

Teaching, Learning and Quality Committee:

Link to committee papers (University login required) 

Teaching and Learning roles and responsibilities: this document defines all the key roles and responsibilities associated with teaching and learning across the University including senior leadership, committees, administration and teaching staff.

Teaching materials available prior to teaching sessions: all students, including those with a modified assessment provision, benefit from being able to access teaching materials in advance of a session. The Teaching and Learning Committee (May 2008 and reviewed in January 2014) agreed that materials should be made available electronically at a minimum of 48 hours in advance of a session. The minimum standard to be adopted includes the following:

  • the outline and scope of a session
  • preparatory reading
  • key teaching materials e.g. PowerPoint presentations, support documentation, podcasts etc. should be uploaded in advance of the teaching session
  • this should be available a minimum of 48 hours before the teaching session, but a period of seven days before the teaching session is recommended
  • all teaching materials must conform to the University’s guidance on copyright and intellectual property rights.

You can achieve this by posting materials for sessions on the DLE. We know that in some circumstances it may not be possible to provide all materials in advance and academic staff may use their professional judgement; however this needs to be weighed against our obligation under the Equalities Act (2010) to make reasonable adjustments to prevent unfair treatment and to achieve equal opportunities for all our students.

Research has shown that posting of lecture materials in advance of the lecture does not have an impact on attendance. To view Babb & Ross (2009), go to http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131508002029. Their findings suggest that attendance and participation are both improved by having slides available to students before classes.

For further information and advice contact Disability Service.

Teaching qualifications/accreditation:

Teaching techniques: this Toolkit of Teaching Techniques contains a compendium of 'How to Guides' of teaching techniques and  discipline specific ideas for teaching methods to enhance the curriculum.

Technological Enhanced Learning (TEL): information on how use technology to enhance learning.

Temporary medical condition or injury affecting assessment: a temporary medical condition or injury may affect a student’s ability to sit exams or attend an assessment. Whilst the University will make every effort to accommodate temporary provisions it normally requires a minimum of 48 hours notice to make arrangements.

Regulations relating to temporary medical conditions or injury.

Examples of temporary provisions that may be put in place are: additional time, own or small group room, scribe or reader, use of a computer, supervised breaks, medication or pain relief and an accessible venue. Contact the faculty office who will advise on the correct procedure.

eTextbooks: The use of eTextbooks in the UK is increasing and has been rising steadily since 2011. The University of Plymouth eTextbook service has grown to provide over 80% of current first year University of Plymouth undergraduate students with a package of free eTextbook titles. Information on using eTextbooks in teaching.

Tier 4 students: it is important that attendance is collected for all Tier 4 students for compliance purposes. Please ensure that colleagues comply with our monitoring requirements as the University has to be able to demonstrate to the Home Office at any time that students are engaging with their studies. 

Programme type Data require and frequency How recorded
Undergraduate programmes Attendance to be recorded at x4 core sessions per month, one a week (as a minimum)   S3
Postgraduate Taught programmes (taught period) Attendance to be recorded at x4 core sessions per month, one a week (as a minimum) S3
Postgraduate Taught programmes (dissertation period) Meeting with dissertation supervisor x1 a month S3
Postgraduate Research programmes Meeting with DoS/other supervisors x1 a month GradBook (meeting can be via skype if student on mobility)
Repeating students As above for taught programmes if repeating taught sessions, as above for dissertation period if resubmitting work / dissertation S3
ELC Attendance recorded at all taught sessions   S3
UPIC students (not integrated) UPIC use own monitoring methods / registers etc. UPIC systems, data sent to compliance
UPIC students (integrated) As per undergraduate students, above S3
Medical / Dentistry students Attendance recorded via locality offices, in line with the above   ADB, information sent to compliance

Third party involvement: if a third party contacts you to discuss an issue or concern about a student; you are unable to discuss any issue without a student’s permission. In compliance with data protection you must advise the third party to discuss the issue or concern directly with the student.

Transcript: is issued to all students who complete any elements of an approved programme of study after each Assessment Board meeting. The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) has now replaced the transcript is part of a national initiative which provides a new way of recording your student achievement.

Tuition fees

For information and advice:

The University of Plymouth tuition fees and charges

Students Union advice centre have specialist advisors who can help with issues including fees, loans, grants, bursaries and the National Scholarship programme: advice@su.plymouth.ac.uk / +44 1752 588373.

Tutoring: Personal Tutoring: promotes achievement and wellbeing. Ensures each individual student is known and valued and that their needs are recognised and supported. Personal Tutoring is part of our provision of high standards of academic and pastoral support.

The Personal Tutoring webpages contain links to the policy,staff guides and role descriptors 

An self-evaluation tool to support  assist with personal tutoring

This online self-assessment tool (PU staff and students) – set up in Moodle - evaluates students’ early engagement with learning. It provides automated feedback, helping to identify students at risk and directing them to appropriate resources and sources of support.


Universal Design

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a relatively new concept in higher education that means we have to change how we think about educational practice so that a greater diversity of students is included in higher education, including those with disabilities. Moving towards UDL means challenging the status quo of the traditionally advantaged learner and a pedagogy based almost entirely on text based learning. In order to respond more effectively to the different learning requirements of a greater diversity of students there needs to be a rethink about all aspects of the system.

Universal Design for Learning Project Europe.

The Universal Design for teaching and learning framework offers the tools to take all learners in to consideration when planning and designing the curriculum. The University College Dublin publication on Universal Design offers comprehensive guidance on the framework.



Vexatious complaints: The vexatious complaints policy, setting out what the university considers to be a vexatious complaint, and how this will be dealt with. 

Volunteering: If a student is interested in volunteering they should visit the UPSU Volunteer Office in the Hive in the SU Building, email volunteer@su.plymouth.ac.uk or contact the Careers Gateway in Roland Levinsky Building.



Whistleblowing: The University of Plymouth is committed to the highest standards of openness, honesty, integrity and to the principles of academic freedom and expects all members to maintain those standards. A culture of openness and accountability is essential to minimise the risk of those situations arising and to deal with them if they do arise. 

  The whistle blowing policy aims to:

  • encourage people to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible without fear of reprisal (even if their concerns turn out to be mistaken)
  • make people aware of how to raise concerns
  • protect people who raise concerns from repercussions as a result of having done so
  • put in place appropriate procedures to investigate concerns; and make sure that concerns are dealt with in a transparent and confidential way.

Widening Participation

The University of Plymouth has a regional, national and international reputation for its widening participation (WP) work. Our commitment is reflected in the University's Raising Aspiration and Driving Engagement Strategy. The strategy focuses primarily on three priority target groups, those disadvantaged by: socio-economic class disability childhood experience in care. The University’s broader strategy also embraces work related to age, gender and racial equality. Visit the WP pages of the website.

Wider Information  
    • informs the public about the quality of higher education
    • helps provide potential students with information that will help them make a choice about what and where to study
    • helps keep current students informed and engaged
    • helps provide evidence to contribute to quality assurance processes in institutions
    • helps provide information that institutions can use to enhance the quality of their higher education provision.

 Wider Information webpage 


Withdrawing from a module: students wanting to withdraw from a module need to talk with their personal tutor, programme leader and inform the faculty office. 

Withdrawing from or suspending study: students withdrawing or suspending study need to talk with their personal tutor, programme leader and inform the faculty office. Students need to explore any funding implications with the faculty office or UPSU Student Advice Centre.

Working Day: a university working day is defined as a day on which the University is open. This excludes weekends, Bank Holidays and times when the University is closed such as the period between Christmas and New Year, but includes both term-time and student vacation periods. 

Writing for Assignments E-Library project (WrAssE): helps students learn about writing at university. It includes examples of student essays and other university assignments from a number of subject areas, together with comments from lecturers about why the writing is good - or how it could be improved.