Course changes for 2020-2021

We are planning for all our new students to commence their studies as expected in September 2020. We are currently preparing for a blended learning approach where your education will be a mix of classroom-based and online learning that includes close contact time with your lecturers and tutors.

Preparing for change

In order to provide a framework for how you will be taught and assessed next year, the University has agreed the following principles:

  • The total number of formally scheduled contact hours for each module can be either classroom-based or online
  • You can expect that those contact hours for a module that cannot be delivered on campus will be adapted for online delivery. We have devised a set of categories of equivalent teaching methods for online delivery
  • In addition to other forms of learning, you can expect a minimum contact time equivalent to one hour per week, per module, for the duration of the semester for learning that takes place where you and your fellow students engage with tutors in real time, learning together, be that on-campus or online (referred to as synchronous learning)
  • No in-person assessments will be conducted in Semester 1 (i.e. traditional examinations held under invigilated timed conditions usually held in large halls)

In order to prepare for this approach our academic and professional service colleagues are now reviewing every module to determine what adaptations need to be made to make this blended approach possible. On the whole these changes will relate to the methods of teaching you will experience, the amount of teaching you receive synchronously (learning that happens in real time, where participants learn together with their lecturers and tutors), and how you will be assessed.

So for example where a module would have included an in-person examination, the module team will be devising an alternative assessment, this might be a switch to a computer based exam, or a multiple-choice test.

The University has in place a robust modification process that ensures that proposed changes to modules are considered carefully to ensure that they are academically sound, do not affect the coherence of the overall course, conform to University regulations and do not contravene professional body requirements where these may apply. Academic colleagues are working on these changes over the coming weeks and submitting these for approval.

The University is committed to ensuring you are given clear and timely information on these changes to enable you to make an informed choice whether to continue with your place, change course, withdraw or defer joining the University.

Below we set out when you can expect to receive information about these changes and what action, if any, you will need to take.

Summary of when you can expect information on course changes
End of July

We will update all offer holders with details of changes to courses which may include:

  • Type of assessment
  • Changes to contact time
  • Amendments to learning outcomes
  • Availability of option modules
Early August Update on any further changes to ‘material information’

Categories of equivalent teaching methods for online delivery

On campus teaching that may be delivered

On campus teaching methodDescription
Lecture Where a whole group is taught together, delivered on campus
Seminar Where you, your tutor and a small group of students discuss ideas and consider a topic in depth, facilitated on campus
Workshop Where you test concepts and methods introduced in lectures and tutorials, facilitated on campus
Laboratory practical A practical activity where you test concepts and methods introduced in lectures and tutorials, that is undertaken in a laboratory on campus
Fieldwork A guided investigation of an environment on or off campus

Online teaching that may be delivered

Synchronous refers to learning that happens in real time, where participants learn together with their lecturers and tutors. In the online environment synchronous lectures, seminars and workshops will be broadcast live using digital channels.

Asynchronous refers to digital or online learning in which students learn through guided instruction, such as pre-recorded videos or online learning tasks that students complete in their own time, either independently or in collaboration with peers.

Online teaching methodDescription
Online lecture Synchronous lecture delivered online
Online seminar Synchronous seminar facilitated online
Online workshop Synchronous workshop facilitated online
Online laboratory practical A practical activity that is undertaken online and may be observed or recorded
Virtual fieldwork A guided online investigation of an environment that may comprise audio, video, live broadcasts, images and simulations
Pre-recorded content Recorded digital content (video or audio) made available to students in an asynchronous format online
Online collaboration An online collaborative activity undertaken by students in peers or groups
Online interactive An activity such as a quiz, poll or similar interactive task that students engage with online
Simulation An online simulation exercise which can be conducted synchronously or asynchronously
Research task A research activity which may involve the collection of data through online research and/or questionnaires or a practical activity such as the use of video datasets as the basis for the task/research

We will, of course, always prioritise health and safety and it may be necessary to make other changes during the course of the academic year in response to government advice. For example it may be necessary to deliver your course entirely online or we may have to close the campus in the event of a local or national lockdown.

Technology for studying online

Find out more about what you will need to study online at Sussex on our equipment and technology page.

Delayed arrival

We would ordinarily welcome thousands of students to our campus and Brighton accommodation in time for Welcome Week. This year we expect the majority of students will still do the same and you will receive a very warm welcome and introduction to Sussex. However, if the Covid-19 situation creates particular difficulties for you, and you are unable to arrive at Sussex for the start of term, we will do our best to support you to study remotely while you make arrangements to join us on campus. You will need to contact us in September once you know if you will be delayed in arriving to Sussex.

Contact us

We recognise that you may have concerns or queries about the changes to your course and university experience or that you might wish to consider options available, for example transferring to a different course or deferring your start date.

Use the relevant email address below to contact us with any queries or concerns:

If you would like to make a complaint, take a look at our complaints pages.