Important Student Information for 2020 - FAQ
Key Principles for 2020 in the School of English and Drama
- All modules will be taught online: this includes lectures, seminars, and practice-based workshops, dissertation supervision, and advising. There will be some extra educational ‘enrichment activities’ that take place on campus. In Drama, students on some practice-based modules may be able to make use of rehearsal rooms and performance spaces (risk assessments permitting).
- Campus will be open to students but students who are unable to attend campus, for example for health reasons, will be able to complete the semester’s teaching without coming to campus, and without being disadvantaged.
- Why Online? While many students are at a relatively low risk from the coronavirus, the same is not true for many of your teachers, lecturers, professors, colleagues in the admin team, and some fellow students. We're making sure that our teaching is resilient and flexible in the event of local lock downs or requirements to self-isolate to make sure that you get the great education you deserve despite these potential disruptions.
- Teaching Online: Regardless of where you are based, a large part of your week will involve interactive contact between you and your lecturers, and with your fellow students.
- Your Timetable: Modules will be taught according to the timetable, and you will be expected to attend class, as much as possible, in the timetabled hours. Student timetables will be released on 1st September.
- Your Advisor: Advisors and seminar leaders will run weekly Drop-In Hours on Microsoft Teams. You’ll be able to book a session in advance, or just turn up. There will be regular group meetings of advisor groups too.
- IT needs: To access all the support and learning technologies that are available we recommend that you have the following equipment: a laptop or desktop PC (IOS or Windows 10) with a camera, microphone, and internet access.
More information is below in our full FAQ or contact us
How will my classes be taught this year?
We are looking forward to welcoming you back to class in September. For modules taught by the English Department and the Drama Department:
- All modules will be taught online: this includes lectures, seminars, and practice-based workshops, dissertation supervision, and advising. They will use video conferencing platforms, so you can see and talk to your lecturer and fellow students. We have spent a lot of time this summer preparing our teaching for online delivery and we are confident that it will be compelling and intellectually exciting. There’s some more information about how teaching will work at the end of this email.
- There will be some extra educational ‘enrichment activities’ that take place on campus. These will be face-to-face meetings or gatherings in socially distanced settings. These will not form a core part of your teaching on your modules, will not be assessed, and will be optional. The content will be related to your programme. Some of these events may only be attended by students, following instructions from your seminar leader or advisor, and others may be led by your advisor or seminar leader.
- In Drama, students on some practice-based modules may be able to make use of rehearsal rooms and performance spaces (risk assessments permitting).
Will campus be open?
Campus will be open to students. Facilities that will be open to students will include the Library, study areas, cafes, Students’ Union and sports facilities, subject to social distancing regulations at the time. There will be some study spaces where students can use QMUL computers to attend online classes (useful if you don’t have a good space or broadband at home for that).
For those that need it now, limited study space is available to book through the library (https://qmul.libcal.com/: at present 12 hours’ notice is required). More information will be provided when it is available. Everyone on campus will need to follow the health and safety instructions closely.
Can I come to campus?
Yes! As long as it’s determined safe to do so, you are welcome to come to campus from the start of Welcome Week.
Do I need to come to campus?
Students who are unable to attend campus, for example for health reasons, will be able to complete the semester’s teaching without coming to campus, and without being disadvantaged.
Can students to use Drama spaces for Student-Led Practice (SLP)?
Yes, students on practical modules will be allowed access to Drama spaces, including Rehearsal Rooms 1-3 and the Pinter Studio. However, these spaces need to be “Covid-secure”, which means that there will be additional safety guidelines governing how you can use them, how many people can be in a room at the same time, and in what situations face-coverings might be compulsory.
While you’ll be allocated a space for your SLP, you will also need to book in with the technical team in order to make sure usage is safe for all participants (you, other students in your group, subsequent users, and the technical and cleaning staff).
Please also bear in mind that access to such spaces might also change according to Government guidance and similar restrictions throughout the year.
What’s going to happen in the second semester?
We want to resume normal face-to-face teaching as soon as it is possible to do so safely. We will be following the guidance of the university and government to determine whether or not we are able resume ‘normal’ face-to-face teaching in second semester.
Why can’t normal teaching resume?
The nature of the coronavirus pandemic means that it is not safe to assume normal teaching can resume. While many students are at a relatively low risk from the coronavirus, the same is not true for many of your teachers, lecturers, professors, colleagues in the admin team, and some fellow students.
The Queen Mary campus will be used as much as possible for socially-distanced face-to-face meetings of small groups, but space is limited. Staff and students with health vulnerabilities, or whose responsibilities include caring for children or at-risk family members, may be unable to travel or to make use of the limited space available.
Some members of the School community may fall ill or be required to isolate at short notice as a result of “track and trace” protocols and renewed local lockdowns. So, we're making sure that our teaching is resilient and flexible to make sure that you get the great education you deserve despite these potential disruptions.
I have more questions: who can I ask?
We will hold regular ‘Ask-me-Anything' meetings on MS Teams before and during the semester, as well as official Staff Student Liaison meetings. If you can’t attend, send us your questions in advance to the SED Student Suggestion Box, which is totally anonymous. You can also ask specific questions about your studies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I find out more information about my modules?
What will online classes be like?
Teaching and admin staff have been working extraordinarily hard throughout the summer to prepare a high-quality learning experience, which will obviously be very different to the emergency provision at the start of the pandemic. Your weekly learning journey will look much the same as the one you are familiar with. You will have a timetable, and classes will meet in the timetabled hours.
Regardless of where you are based, a large part of your week will involve interactive contact between you and your lecturers, and with your fellow students.
We will issue guidance on expectations about how to behave in different kinds of online classes (lectures, seminars, practice-based, break-out-groups). We expect all students to behave responsibly in online classes, as they do in normal times: that means they don’t say or write anything that could be considered degrading, hostile, offensive, or that could cause someone to feel humiliated, harassed, threatened or bullied.
What will online lectures be like?
In modules that have lectures, they will be provided online, with recordings available to all students via QMplus. Different modules will do lectures in different ways, making sure you know in advance was to expect. In some modules, your lecturers will deliver the lectures “live”, with recordings released afterwards (like Q-Review). In other modules, lecturers will release recordings ahead of time. You can either watch in advance, or during the lecture hour. You don’t need to have your camera on for lectures, though it is encouraged. Some of your teachers may release recorded lectures in advance and use the lecture hour for an online Q&A about the lecture material.
What will online seminars and creative writing workshops be like?
Seminars and creative writing workshops will take place in real-time using video-conferencing platforms (Collaborate or Teams). That is, they will happen in the timetabled hour. The video conferencing platforms allow you to see the seminar leader, and your fellow students, and to have interactive discussions with them. We expect you to have your camera on for seminars, if at all possible. Seminars will be based on discussion, as usual, with structured tasks and debates to help you understand the material, enable your participation, and get the most out of your time. They will involve the usual mixture of small-group discussion, writing exercises, debate, and so on, but adapted to suit the online context. Modules will also make use of forums to keep you up-to-date with what is happening. There will be a break between every hour.
What is a webinar?
A webinar is simply a seminar that is conducted online over the internet. Your timetable refers to seminars that meet online as webinars. In English and Drama our webinars/seminars will be on Teams or Collaborate, as explained in more detail in the QMplus module area for each module.
In a webinar, you do much the same kind of thing as you are used to doing in a seminar: discussion, debate and conversation around the topic or theme of the class. Your seminar leader will be there to lead discussion, and set tasks that you’ll tackle together by yourself, in small break-out groups, or together a webinar. Some of these webinar tasks will involve reading and writing, and others talk and debate.
What will practice-based teaching be like?
Students in Drama should expect the same balance between practical and seminar-based teaching as is usually promised in your programme. Practice-based modules in Drama will be taught online, and students will be enabled to make, present, and document performances in creative, responsive, and innovative ways.
During the summer, teaching staff have been busy developing new ways of making and showing solo and collaborative performances in an online context. The technical team will also be available to support your work. Rehearsal space may be available subject to social distancing regulations.
Will I have a timetable? When will I know my timetable?
Modules will be taught according to the timetable, and you will be expected to attend class, as much as possible, in the timetabled hours. Student timetables will be released on 1st September.
How will I meet with my advisor? Will they have Drop-in Hours as usual?
Advisors and seminar leaders will run weekly Drop-In Hours on Microsoft Teams. You’ll be able to book a session in advance, or just turn up. There will be regular group meetings of advisor groups too.
How will I get my supervision on my dissertation or independent written project?
Dissertation (English) and Independent Written Project (Drama) supervision will also be provided through Teams. You will meet your supervisor face to face on Teams, for individual supervisions, as usual. The Dissertation and Independent Written Project modules have been adapted to ensure that students select topics appropriately supported by online resources.
How will I be able to use the library and library resources if I can’t come to campus?
Module reading lists have been revised so that electronically-available resources are prioritized, and Queen Mary is devoting additional resources to purchase e-copies of books as needed and to secure enhanced access to digital repositories of texts and media. Extra guidance will be supplied on how best to prepare for seminars. If there is a book you need for your module, and it has an electronic edition, we will buy it.
Don't forget that Queen Mary students have two libraries: QMUL's Mile End library, and Senate House in Bloomsbury. They both offer access to excellent electronic resources (e-books, online journals), and have different selections.
Please note: You have to join Senate House Library separately to use their services. Join here
What IT equipment do I need?
To access all the support and learning technologies that are available we recommend that you have the following equipment: a laptop or desktop PC (IOS or Windows 10) with a camera, microphone, and internet access. A laptop is recommended rather than a tablet, as laptops better enable completion of assignments and engagement in the digital learning environments. More information from IT Services here.
Queen Mary provides Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus for free to download and install for students and staff.
All students will be provided with pre-sessional training on how best to engage with online learning, and an opportunity to test-run your hardware to iron out any problems before classes start. Good, reliable, high-quality broadband will also be very useful.
There is some financial support available from the QMUL University Financial Assistance Fund, to students who are experiencing financial hardship, including those who need help to acquire the right IT equipment for online learning.
Is enrolment online?
Enrolment is completed online this year. If you want to collect your ID card (which is optional and completely dependent upon your circumstances) you can come to campus. You will need to bring the email (printed out or on your phone) that you receive inviting you to attend ID card collection as it contains a personal QR code that will be used to print your ID card.
Will there be a Freshers’ Fair? How will I join societies?
Societies at QMUL are run by the QM Student Union. They are organizing a Fresher’s Fair, where you can join societies — there more than 250 to choose from. You will be able to join and participate in societies online, and there will be some socially distanced on campus face to face events as well. Students in English and Drama join many different kinds of societies, including Student Media, Queen Mary Theatre Company and the English Society.
What reading should I do in advance of the start of teaching?
The SED Module Directory includes an up-to-date description of reading and other preparation you can do for each of your modules. It also describes how much you can expect to spend on buying books — but remember, many are also available cheaply second hand. Try to get the right edition if your lecturer specifies one.
How will social distancing work on a Covid-aware campus?
We are working on getting the campus ready and ‘Covid-safe’. The university’s general guidance about what next year will be like in terms of student experience is here: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/coronavirus/guidance-for-students-and-applicants/the-2020-student-experience/. For those coming to campus, things will be rather different. Any activity involving a group of people will have to take place in a space with adequate ventilation and room for social distancing.
Staff and students will need to wear face coverings in corridors, bathrooms and other shared areas, and for any indoor discussion activity if social distancing is less than 2 metres. Those with medical reasons for not wearing a face covering will be exempt. We are providing two Queen Mary 3-ply face coverings as part of your enrolment pack.
When sitting to work in areas where there is good airflow and distancing (including much of the library and other campus workspaces) we won’t need to wear face coverings, but we will need to wipe down surfaces with the cleaners provided and be careful not to share study materials or personal possessions.
In buildings across the campus, one-way systems will be in operation, and hand sanitiser will be available everywhere. Any meetings or other activities will have to be pre-booked and attendance carefully monitored in order to ensure contact tracing for any coronavirus cases. The changes required to open ArtsOne (including a one-way system) are currently being put in place so that we can open for the new semester.
Can I work in the library?
You can get a good idea of how the library will work in 2020-21 from the videos here: https://www.library.qmul.ac.uk/using-the-library/welcome-and-induction-2020/. It gives advice about how to use and book the library’s socially distanced study spaces, as well as how to access books from the collection using the click and collect service.
Will Queen Mary Theatre Company (QMTC) be allowed to use Drama spaces for rehearsals?
Yes. Usage will include some of the same restrictions that apply to SLP, and the QMTC team will be able to advise on this, in consultation with Jules and the technical team.
Can students book spaces for their own use towards practical modules?
Yes. We will be operating a strict booking system, though, and students will not be allowed to use the spaces without making a booking in advance (even if they’re empty), to enable the NHS “track and trace” system, and to ensure that spaces have been properly cleaned between uses.