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The University of Southampton

Adapting our students’ learning

You might be wondering what things are like here in Chemistry in Southampton at the moment. Teaching is a mix of face-to-face and virtual learning. Our students are receiving the same amount of practical training as they would in a normal year and we have extensive measures in place to ensure their safety.

Watch the videos below and read the FAQs to see how we’ve adapted teaching to ensure our students thrive on their degrees as usual.

Hear from a student

Third-year student Niamh explains what it’s like to study chemistry at the moment, from what teaching is like to what she’s doing in her spare time.

Watch the video

Laboratory teaching

Dr Paul Duckmanton, Director of Programmes, explains what things are like in the laboratories at the moment.

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Learning during COVID-19

Head of Chemistry Professor Jon Essex gives an overview of how both online and face-to-face teaching is working

Watch the video

Frequently Asked Questions

Are chemistry practicals running? What are they like and what precautions are being taken?

Yes, all practicals are running as normally as possible to ensure our students are receiving the same practical training as they would have under usual circumstances. Laboratory sessions are running with fewer people at a time, but we’re running more sessions to accommodate everyone. Laboratory classes are now in week-long blocks, so that the same students can come in for a full week, allowing us to thoroughly clean the laboratory and leave it empty over the weekend before the next students come in.

What facilities are available to students?

The usual facilities are all available for our students, including the new equipment that we brought in as part of the laboratory refurbishment last year. In some cases our technicians have had to run samples rather than the students doing it themselves, to minimise contact between students.

Are there any virtual lab sessions?

The only practical sessions that are run online are the computational labs. All other laboratory work is being completed in the chemistry facilities on campus.

Is there any face-to-face teaching, apart from practicals?

Yes, first and second year students are attending regular tutorials and some small-group teaching is also carrying on in other areas.

How do lectures work? Are they live or recorded? Can I access recordings later on?

This year virtually all lectures are recorded for students to watch flexibly, at a time that suits them. This is working well and we’re seeing that our students are very satisfied with this arrangement. In a normal year most lectures are delivered live but also recorded for revision purposes.

What will meetings with my personal tutor be like?

First-year students meet their personal tutor face-to-face in academic tutorials, as well as in one-to-one meetings. That relationship varies with the student’s needs, but usually you can expect to discuss how you’re coping with the course and how prepared you are for any upcoming assessments. As you progress through the degree your personal tutor will become a useful person to talk to about your optional module choices, projects, placements and your plans after you graduate.

If I’m not seeing academics regularly, how do I get help if I’m struggling?

You will see academics regularly, even in the components of the programmes that are currently delivered online. You’ll see academic staff face-to-face in your laboratory classes, as well as your personal tutorials, and you can also contact staff online; they’ll be more than pleased to help you!

Support is also available beyond your personal academic tutor and module staff through the student office, Senior Tutor and Director of Programmes.

How will I meet other chemistry students?

Students are meeting mainly in laboratories and tutorials, although even some online sessions use breakout rooms to allow small groups to work together. In a normal year we would add lectures to that list. Often tutorial groups set up an online group to talk to and support each other, using apps such as WhatsApp.

What will assessments be like?

There’s a mixture of short laboratory reports which are completed during the laboratory session, as well as some longer reports and assignments, assessed tutorials and exams. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we’re currently running exams online in open book form.

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