Learning and studying – your academic experience

Our plan is to be able to offer you a full campus-based and in-person teaching experience that provides full access to our world class teaching and learning facilities.

Page last updated: Wednesday 21 July 2021

What will university life be like in September?

Our plan is to be able to offer you a full campus-based and in-person teaching experience from September. In addition, we recognise that many of our students have found enhanced digital material helpful in supporting their learning, so we will be using our extensive expertise in online and digital learning to supplement and enhance your teaching experience whilst you’re on campus. We can also use online learning as a back-up option for any students that are unable to access campus due, for example, to travel restrictions.

This may change if there are changes to government regulations or guidance but we have reasons to feel optimistic.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to our learning community on campus at the start of the next academic year. Of course, we also understand that for some students, circumstances might mean that physical travel is not possible. If this is the case for you, we will ensure there are online resources available so you can progress with your studies throughout Semester 1 until you are able to join us on campus.

Your learning experience

Adaptable Teaching Model 2021-22

Following the latest Government and Department for Education guidance, we can confirm our plans for in-person, on-campus teaching and accompanying online support.

We have taken into account a range of different COVID- related scenarios and are confident we will be able to deliver education successfully, regardless of restrictions imposed or lifted throughout the year. Our Adaptable Teaching Model for 2021-22 has five main elements:

  1. All core teaching content will be pre-recorded and made available online 

    These recordings will be as preparation for the in-person, large group interactive lectures that follow.

    This year, our students reported that they found the availability of preparatory content online very helpful in supporting their learning. This is particularly the case for students with a disability, caring responsibilities, or English as a second language. This also means that you continue to access core teaching content even if you are required to self-isolate, are unable to travel, or if staff are required to isolate.

  2. In-person, large group interactive lectures will go ahead in the normal way

    These lectures will typically be run in the normal way, unless the Government requires us to introduce COVID-related restrictions that make this impossible.

    The interactive lectures will reinforce and extend the core content that is available online and your tutor will focus on explanation, clarification, examples and interactive learning. These sessions will be recorded (where appropriate) so they are available to you even if you are self-isolating or unable to travel.

    For international studentswho may face travel restrictions for extended periods of time, we are also preparing to make live, remote access available to many of the large group lectures.

  3. Small group teaching such as seminars, labs and skills sessions will go ahead in-person 

    These teaching and practical sessions will happen in the usual way, unless we are required to introduce COVID-related restrictions.

    If we do need to restrict access at any point in the year, we will introduce the ‘1 metre +’ socially distanced schedule in which we operated this academic year. We will run additional online sessions if you are unable to attend, and/or run hybrid sessions in which you can access the sessions simultaneously in person and online.

  4. You will have a Personal Academic Tutor and regular academic support with our Online Group Tutorials

    To ensure you’re supported throughout your studies, you will be assigned to an online academic tutor group with students on your course, where you will meet with a designated personal tutor regularly.

    In addition to the opportunity to meet with your tutor individually to discuss assessment feedback and other issues, these group sessions are designed to build your confidence, help you get to know and learn from other students, and provide a strong link to an academic tutor who will support your progress through your studies.

    Based on our experience of running online group tutorials this year, students reported that the online format was convenient and accessible, and the group format helped them to connect with their peers.

  5. Assessments will take a range of formats, including different types of examination and coursework

    Based on our success in delivering inclusive online assessments this year, we will be retaining online assessments where they are appropriate to the specific requirements and learning outcomes of the programme.

    We can also introduce online assessments for all programmes if the Government imposes COVID-related restrictions.  

    However, there are programmes with specific practical and professional requirements where on-campus, in-person teaching and assessments will be required at some point in order to progress. Your School will advise if this applies to you. 

Our study spaces, including the main Library, will be open from the start of term with access to computer clusters

Our Library will be open to provide you with space to study in an airy, safe environment, while observing social distancing if necessary from September. As well as bookable computers and spaces across campus, we have plenty of outdoor spaces with Wi-Fi too. Our high-speed Wi-Fi is available in all study spaces and university and partner accommodation.

We have enhanced our extensive online collection of resources, books and journals that you can access and we have increased the range of software that is available online, including free access to Office365, so that wherever you are on campus you still have access to everything that you need.

Our Academic Skills Centre (ASC) works closely with your programme areas to tailor appropriate support that will help you to develop and build on any skills you might need during your time at university. Through the ASC, you’ll also be able to access workshops and book one-to-one appointments with our experts who will be able to help you with writing skills, study strategies and more.

We have also been investing in our other learning spaces including our Collaborative Teaching Laboratory, Teaching and Learning Centre and School of Engineering. When you arrive we’re confident that you’ll find Birmingham not just an inspiring and beautiful place to learn but an incredibly supportive one too, tailored to your needs.

Our high quality student support services are available for all students

Starting university is a big decision, and it’s normal to have lots of questions or feel nervous, particularly if you are travelling to live somewhere new. At Birmingham you’ll find a breadth of different types of support services to help you with any challenges you might be facing. In university accommodation you’ll find lots of support including Hall reps, Student Mentors and events tailored to help you settle in and make friends. You’ll also have access to Welfare tutors in your academic college who can further support you with any challenges you might face.

We want to make sure you have all the support you need from now until you graduate, and we have a huge range of support services to help you along the way. You can pick and choose which of our support services are right for you, and tailor the support to what you need. We have experts who are available to meet with you and provide you with support, whether that’s with your mental health and wellbeing to supporting you with housing, employment or your finances.

Our Careers Network is also dedicated to providing you with support in building your career now, finding internships and opportunities to expand your knowledge to helping you find a job after you graduate. Birmingham was the second most targeted university by leading UK employers in 2020/21, which shows how dedicated we are in helping you succeed at university and beyond.

Make the transition to University study

If you’re feeling nervous about your first few days at university, don’t worry - that's completely normal. As well as your Personal Tutor who will be on hand for advice and guidance throughout your time with us, if you’re living in University accommodation you’ll be allocated a trained Student Mentor too. There are lots of events and activities during Welcome (our name for Fresher's) where you'll be able to get to know other people in the same boat as you, and we’ll send you more information about that closer to the time.

When you arrive on campus, whether you need support with referencing in essays, presentation skills or finding academic resources we have resources and workshops to help. You'll also have access to our Academic Skills Centre which supports all new undergraduate students to develop their mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. You may be interested in completing our Skills4Uni module, a free online course to support specifically with your transition.

The way that you study for your degree is probably going to be quite different to how you've studied before. Our academics and support teams have put together a collection of materials to support your transition to University and get you ready to start your degree at Birmingham.

Explore our academic transition materials