Your UCL education in the 2020/21 academic year

As you prepare for the start of term, we outline what you can expect from your academic experience at UCL and where to find information about any adjustments to your specific programme.

UCL will be open and ready to welcome you to the start of the new term on 28 September. The 2020/21 academic year is necessarily going to look and feel different from previous years, however, as we adapt to living, working and studying through the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In Term One, new and returning students have the option of studying on campus or wherever you're based around the world. As the situation is constantly evolving, you may need to change your mind so we'll remain flexible. This means, for example, that if you can't arrive on campus for the start of term, you can join us later. Similarly, if you come onto campus but then decide or need to return home, you can do so with no impact on your studies.

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This page was last updated on 28 September 2020. 

Connected Learning at UCL

At UCL, education is about making connections. Connecting with our research and our world-leading staff; connecting across disciplines to challenge your thinking and ideas; and connecting with global challenges to prepare you for a great career. While social distancing continues we have to ensure we maintain these connections.

Alongside any on-campus experience you may have, we want to make sure you have a high-quality, collaborative and engaging online learning experience. We are calling this approach 'Connected Learning'.

Connected Learning means that even if your arrival on UCL campus is delayed, you can still join our academic community and start your education with us – connecting with your tutors and fellow students, inside and outside the classroom. 

Due to social distancing requirements, all your Term One core teaching will take place online, including lectures, tutorials, seminars and assessments. By 'core teaching' we mean everything you need to learn to complete the module successfully. There will be highly interactive sessions in real time, as well as engaging learning activities designed so you can study at your own pace and in your own time zone. We are also making sure that dissertations and major projects can be carried out online.

We know that for some students, online lectures and study activities may be a very new learning experience. To help get you ready, we will soon launch 'Connected Learning at UCL' – a new student course on our core learning platform, Moodle – open to any student with a UCL user ID and password. The course features interactive tasks and quizzes to give you practical experience of learning online before the start of term. The course also includes a 'sandbox' area where you can get to know and practise using UCL's core learning tools and platforms.

Studying on campus

We believe there are a great many benefits to attending university in person, beyond your academic journey. These include interaction with your fellow students and the experience of an environment that is alive with research and academic scholarship. 

Campus will be open, as will UCL libraries, UCL Careers, the Student Centre and Students’ Union UCL spaces. The physical access you will have to these facilities and social spaces will be severely restricted in Term One, but you will have full online access to our services. 

Your safety is our priority and in Term One, opportunities to join us on campus will be significantly reduced. As the pandemic progresses, UK government guidance and social distancing requirements will guide how much teaching can take place in person at any given time. The amount of in-person teaching will vary from programme to programme but is likely to be no more than 1-2 hours per week. If you can't join us in London immediately, we will provide alternative content so you can achieve the same learning wherever you are in the world.

When you’re on campus, in-person activity, led by our excellent academic teams, may be programme-level teaching, academic and employability skills workshops, small-group or individual tutorials, lab and practice-based teaching. 

Physical access to study spaces, common rooms, libraries and social spaces will also be severely restricted in Term One, but you will have full online access to our services.

We are working towards an even better on-campus experience as the year progresses; however, a lot will depend on the progress of the pandemic and public health restrictions in place. We will keep you up to date with our plans throughout Term One, so you have the information you need to be able to take decisions that are right for your circumstances.

Travelling from abroad to study on campus

With many students now planning to arrive in London from overseas, Student Support and Wellbeing has put together ‘Preparing to arrive in the UK – travel advice’ to help you plan for the new COVID-19 reality and for possible quarantine on arrival.  

Programme and module information

Your department will be writing to you with more detail about the shape of your education in Term One. The undergraduate and graduate prospectus pages also contain information about adjustments made to your specific programme for 2020/21 in response to COVID-19; for example, field trip or placement options, module availability, mode of assessment etc. 

The Module Catalogue contains the latest information about changes to modules running in 2020/21. You will then be invited to choose your modules in early September. 

We will review our plans as the academic year progresses and communicate teaching arrangements for Term Two onwards during Term One.

Student support and activities

If you can join us in London, services like our libraries and UCL Careers will be open, subject to safety precautions. If your arrival is delayed, don’t worry: all students will also have online access to these facilities. 

Library sites will be open to all students for the start of term, subject to social distancing guidelines. See Library essentials for students and staff 2020-21 for the most up-to-date information about in-person and remote facilities for the academic year ahead. Whether you’re in London or not, our libraries offer you a huge range of digital materials (e-resources) to support you with independent pre-reading and analysis, and developing your skills as an active researcher. These resources will be available to all enrolled students from the start date of your course. 

Our Student Support and Wellbeing teams provide comprehensive online support services, including disability and mental health support, phone and online counselling, and information on studying abroad. The Student Enquiries Centre team is on hand to answer your questions on all the main aspects of academic life and life beyond the classroom – from letters of student status for council tax, to paying your fees and opening a bank account. 

There will be many online and in-person opportunities to pursue your interests outside your programme, including UCL volunteering, sustainability and entrepreneurship programmes, and the clubs and societies run by your vibrant Students’ Union. And, of course, the whole of London is on your doorstep, including the city’s fantastic museums, galleries and parks. New students, keep an eye out for Countdown to UCL emails for more information, and be prepared to make the most of UCL!  

Keeping safe on campus 

We have introduced a range of measures to protect everyone on campus, including asking people to use face coverings, deep cleaning our buildings and implementing a one-way system on site. We’re also making more soap and hand sanitiser available and encouraging people to check their temperature at least once a day. 

We are continuing to follow UK government guidance, as well as the expertise of our researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention to make sure UCL is as safe as possible.

See our dedicated 'Keeping safe on campus' website to find out more what we’re doing to protect our staff and students and how you can help keep campus as safe as possible. 

Sunflower Lanyard scheme

If you have an invisible disability, you can pick up a Sunflower lanyard to discreetly indicate that you have an invisible disability and may require additional support or assistance.

Find out more information about the Sunflower Lanyard scheme.

Still have questions?

If you have any further questions about what your UCL experience will look like this year, please check the student FAQs page. If you need further information, contact your department or visit askUCL, our student enquiry system.