UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Update on Master’s teaching for 2020/21 entry

3 August 2020

Find out how the IRDR is innovating its approach to learning in order to respond flexibly to new challenges.

UCL campus view

We know that due to the current Coronavirus restrictions, there has been some uncertainty about how courses will be taught in the coming academic year. Following government advice and UCL guidance, we have put in place plans that ensure students’ learning experiences are enhanced, whilst prioritising the safety of everyone in the IRDR.

UCL will be open and students are welcome to join the Department on campus for the start of the autumn term. Lectures, large classes and large public and social gatherings will be online in order to promote a safe environment and maintain physical distances. But these are only a part of a UCL education. Small classes, tutorials and social events will be delivered both face-to-face, adhering to social distancing conditions, and online. Where possible, UCL facilities such as libraries and the Student Centre will be accessible both physically and online. This means students can come to London from the beginning of term but will have the option to engage with their degrees wholly online at first and join in person later in the year when travel and social distancing allow.

The IRDR is innovating its approach to learning in order to respond flexibly to new challenges: 

Weekly small group tutorials
The centrepiece of IRDR teaching will be weekly tutorials in small groups of two to three in Terms 1 and 2. They will be scheduled to accommodate participation over a range of international timezones for students joining online.

These tutorial groups from the IRDR will provide an enhanced educational experience by giving students the opportunity to apply knowledge learned in taught subject-specific modules to research settings and innovations. Research skills will be developed through detailed questions-and-answers with lecturers and researchers. The diversity of staff and specialties within the IRDR is built on a common baseline of research skills that students will learn and develop in the groups. 

Independent research projects and fieldwork
In Term 3, these group tutorials will be superseded by regular individual discussions with students’ independent research project supervisors. Fieldwork will be moved to the summer. However, projects and field trips can also be carried out online.

Learning in taught modules

Taught modules delivering subject-specific knowledge will include lectures delivered online with small group discussions. These discussions will be held face-to-face and online. Students will also be able to post questions thereby enabling a socialised learning experience for all students. 

Peer-to-peer learning
Getting to know other students and learning from them is an essential part of university life for Master’s students. Students will flexibly join groups at the start of the academic year that will form the basis for weekly peer-to-peer student forums to discuss learning and share prior experience. Again, these discussions will be held face-to-face and online. 

These new approaches to learning for the IRDR will combine personalised learning experience and socialised learning approaches. The focus is on being challenged intellectually, learning problem-solving from interdisciplinary scientific perspectives, and having personal tutorship from IRDR lecturers and researchers. 

We’re excited about welcoming a new cohort of students to the IRDR and safety is our top priority. UCL is putting physical distancing measures in place across the campus to keep everyone safe, as well as investing in new online resources. No student, whether in London or studying fully online, will be at an academic disadvantage to any other student on the programme and will all graduate in the same way.

You can find answers to frequently asked questions about UCL’s response to the pandemic, including information for prospective students, on the UCL coronavirus online hub.

If you have specific questions about the IRDR, please email irdr-enquiries@ucl.ac.uk. UCL will be sending further official communications on teaching plans to applicants in the next few weeks.

This provision is subject to change as the situation evolves and in line with government and university policy and guidance.