We outline what you can expect from your academic experience at UCL.
On this page
A UCL education is designed to stretch your intellect, expand your experience and develop your skills. We want you to learn how to think, not what to think, through research-based learning. We will make sure that as a student you connect well with people (peers, teachers, researchers, and other UCL communities); with knowledge and research; and with the wider world.
At all times our first priority is your health and safety and that of our whole community. Many of the significant restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic have eased, though some expectation around wearing face masks, social distancing in a small number of settings and some limits to international and UK travel remain. We are continuing to follow UK Government guidance, as well as the expertise of our own researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention.
Our plans for your teaching and learning
The New Year is an exciting part of your time at UCL and our campus remains open to all students in January 2022.
You will continue to have a blend of face-to-face and online teaching and learning, designed to support you to progress and succeed academically. Our 'blended by design' approach responds to the feedback of our students about what activity needs to return to face to face and what should remain online and accessible in a way that suits your learning. Across UCL, most small group teaching - including seminars, workshops, laboratory and studio practicals - are in person. Many other activities such as student societies, social events and sport are also in person. As part of a responsible approach to living with COVID, some large group teaching will be delivered online this year if this does not have a negative impact on the programme learning outcomes. All in-person lectures are also augmented by online supporting material so you can still progress with your learning if you are self-isolating.
Within your programme, most modules will blend online and on campus teaching, and a small number will be mostly or completely online if all learning outcomes can be met this way. Online, you will be learning through a mix of interactive sessions in real time and engaging digital learning activities and lecture recordings that you can work through at your own pace and that support the teaching and learning on campus.
The amount of face-to-face teaching will vary from programme to programme and depends on the discipline and the stage you are at in your studies. Some disciplines traditionally expect students to spend a significant part of their programmes studying and researching independently outside the classroom, with fewer face-to-face classes. These disciplines will prioritise interactive teaching activities like tutorials and seminars on campus to support your independent studies.
Our students have told us very clearly how much they value in-person interaction with fellow students and the experience of an environment that is alive with research and academic scholarship. This happens both in and outside your academic programme, and you will have many opportunities for informal learning, networking and connecting with your fellow students, online and on campus. Our libraries offer digital and physical materials for independent study and analysis, and developing your skills as an active researcher.
Why ‘blended by design’?
From the past year of teaching fully online and listening to feedback’, our educators have learned what works best for their students and our programmes. Traditional, very large face-to-face lectures do not always offer the best way of achieving learning outcomes and some students prefer the flexibility of online lectures, enabling them to study at their own pace or interact with their lecturers in a more direct and engaging way than in a traditional large lecture format. We know our students continue to value in-person interaction with peers and staff, and hands-on practice with real-world problems, so we are prioritising face-to-face time for those sessions which are genuinely interactive.
We also knew at the start of this academic year that a resurgence of COVID and other respiratory illnesses over winter could mean an increase in staff and student absences due to self-isolation, and a possible reintroduction of more stringent social distancing measures would make face-to-face large group lectures impossible. Given the uncertainty already experienced by our students over the past 18 months, we minimised future disruption to your studies by planning for some high-quality online lectures from the outset of the year, rather than attempting to pivot at the last-minute in response to the course of the pandemic.
While restrictions have eased, some larger-group lectures will remain online for the rest of this academic year. Scheduling and allocating rooms for our 43,000+ student community across a large estate is a complex operation that takes place well in advance of term starting. This year, timetables were planned so that rooms could accommodate socially distanced groups if required. As part of our COVID-19 safety measures to provide enhanced ventilation, we also limited the size of classes taking place in some rooms in our older, historical buildings. This reduced capacity, combined with the size of our estate and the volume of teaching, means we would struggle to make large scale last-minute increases to the amount of planned face-to-face teaching without disrupting your learning in unacceptable ways.
Help shape your education
We offer many opportunities for you to feedback on your experience. The results from our institutional surveys and our regular interaction with student reps from your department, faculty and the Students’ Union inform our approach to your education and wider student experience.
If you have an urgent issue or concern, you should contact your department or AskUCL. Your Personal Tutor is also available to support you with any academic or pastoral issues.
Planning for next year
Our approach to planning for the next academic year reflects the fact, at present, we are entering a new stage of the pandemic. We continue to consult with staff and students to understand what we can learn from this extraordinary experience of teaching and studying during a pandemic.
Our community is made up of students with varied needs and preferences. We know, for example, that students with disabilities, English as an additional language, caring responsibilities or a chronic health issue have benefitted from some of the changes we made through the pandemic. Others just want us to retain some element of flexibility in how they access lectures, while most are also excited to return to in-person interaction and more informal opportunities to make connections.
Your wider student experience
UCL Careers, the Student Centre and other social spaces are open and there are many opportunities to pursue your interests outside your programme, including UCL volunteering, sustainability and entrepreneurship programmes, and the clubs and societies run by your Students’ Union. These are available online and in person, subject to social distancing guidance and the whole of London is on your doorstep.
If Term 2 is your first time joining us in person, visit our New Students website for information about welcome events and activities in January.
Our blended model of education helps us manage through the ongoing coronavirus challenges that arise, particularly during the winter months. By offering very large group teaching online and limiting some class sizes, we are confident we can flex our campus to continue some interactive face to face learning activity, even if social distancing requirements change temporarily during the year.
We are working hard to make sure all our buildings and spaces are as safe as possible. Unless you are exempt, we expect everyone on campus to wear a face covering in indoor spaces, including in lectures, seminar rooms, study spaces, offices and labs. We are cleaning our buildings frequently and asking everyone to get tested twice a week, even if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
We expect that the vast majority of our staff and students will be fully vaccinated so that they can protect themselves and others.
The UK has a well-advanced vaccination and booster programme, and international students at UCL on all visas and of all nationalities will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others around you is to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as you are eligible. UCL will support you to get a vaccine as soon as possible if you need one and there is an NHS vaccination centre on campus. UCL’s International Student Support webpages have more information on the advice and support available for students arriving or returning to London as an international student.
A resurgence of coronavirus, like that seen with the Omicron variant, is always a possibility during the academic year. However, we have robust contingency plans, based on our experience and the resources that have already been developed, so we are confident that you will be able progress your education with us whatever the circumstances. You can find more about how we are keeping staff and students safe on campus and protecting their wellbeing. Our website is frequently updated as UK Government advice changes.
We are confident that our campus is safe, but we understand that some of you may be worried about coming to London, especially if you were identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable earlier in the pandemic, or you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. If that is the case, please get in touch with our Student Support & Wellbeing team, who can tell you more about the support available to you.
Further information and support
If you have a question about your studies at UCL, please get in touch with your department.
If you want to speak to someone about your health and wellbeing, UCL’s Support and Wellbeing team are on hand to support all our students. If you have access to askUCL, our online enquiries system, you can message the team at any time. If this isn't available to you yet, please call +44 (0)20 7679 0100 (9am - 5pm BST, Monday to Friday). Please note that our phonelines are very busy this week, but we will get back to everyone who messages us via askUCL.
For all other information and resources needed to succeed at UCL, visit the Students website.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Please note: these FAQs are continuously updated. Please check regularly for further guidance about studying on campus in Term 2.
- Can I return home at the end of Term 2 if my programme does not have any face-to-face activities scheduled for Term 3?
All home students can continue to complete your studies via blended learning for the remainder of the academic year. This means that if your programme does not require you to attend any face-to-face activities during Term 3, you may return home at the end of Term 2. PGT students must check with their dissertation/project supervisors if remote supervision is possible before making plans to leave London.
Tier 4/Student Visa holders should read the specific UKVI guidance for visa holders before making any travel plans as they may impact your visa status.
Important: ALL assessments are scheduled in UK/British Summer Time (BST). Depending on your home timezone, sitting your online assessments while overseas may mean sitting assessments at unsociable hours.
- What happens to my visa if I interrupt my studies?
Students should be aware that interrupting your studies will have an impact on your visa.
If you have already used your Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS) number to obtain your visa and now interrupt your studies, UCL is required to withdraw sponsorship of that visa and you will need to get a new one when you rejoin us.
CAS numbers are only valid for 6 months so if you have not yet used your CAS number and you interrupt your studies until to next year, you will also have to obtain a new visa when you rejoin us.
Overseas students on programmes with a fully remote option in Terms 2 and 3
- Will there be a reduction in fees for those studying remotely during 2021-22?
No. UCL is delivering its programmes on-campus and making the opportunity to study in-person available to all students. We are adapting some programmes to support overseas students to follow teaching online where this is the only option available to them and they would not otherwise be able to follow the programme during the first term. This is an additional measure that we are putting in place for students and will not result in any reduction in fees.
Students are encouraged to come to London this academic year. If they cannot, deferral or interruption of study is advised for those students who choose not to follow their programme remotely, or whose programmes cannot offer a remote study option.
- If I remain remote for Terms 2 and 3, how will it impact my assessments?
Please note that studying remotely will also impact on your assessments, which were designed with the expectation that all students would be on campus this year. As such, they will be scheduled for daytime in the UK, British Summer Time (BST), and you may be required to sit assessments at unsociable hours.
Students who took 24-hour exams last year should be mindful that the majority of assessments are expected to be shorter, timed-duration exams this year, so, depending on your local time and the format of your assessments, you could be required to sit exams during the night.