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Coronavirus information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) status at Birkbeck

Birkbeck’s 2021-22 learning environment

For the 2021-22 academic year, we’re planning on providing a combination of in-person teaching by world-class academics and high-quality online learning opportunities, creating an exceptional educational experience, while ensuring the safety of students.

You will benefit from:

  • A blend of in-person and online teaching with a focus on interactive learning, supported by high-quality digital learning materials.
  • A clear, consistent and easy to navigate virtual learning environment, designed with accessibility in mind, to improve the student experience.
  • Lectures of over 50 students will be held online. Interactive classes, seminars and labs will be offered as in-person activities.
  • With each programme of study providing a unique experience, discover indicative details about attendance requirements for your course next year.
  • Access to on-campus Covid-secure study spaces, the Birkbeck Library and its extensive collection of ebooks.
  • A range of in-person and online student services to support you during your academic journey. These include study skills, student advice, careers services and disability, mental health and counselling support.    
  • Access to a range of financial support packages, including a digital learning fund.
  • Comprehensive online orientation materials to prepare you for joining Birkbeck in October.

If social distancing or other restrictions are in place, most teaching will take place online with in-person activity prioritised for practical subjects. During 2020-21, we redesigned our programmes for the online environment to maintain student safety during the pandemic and they were rated highly by our students.

We understand that some students may be concerned about returning to in-person teaching on campus. Where possible, we will enable you to continue your studies online, though this will differ across programmes.

Whatever happens with the pandemic, we will continue to provide a high-quality educational experience and teaching by world-class academics that enable you to continue your studies with, and be a part of, the University of London.

Self-isolating or positive COVID test

If you develop coronavirus symptoms, please complete the notification process for COVID-19 via My Birkbeck.

If you are contacted independently by the NHS Test and Trace scheme, please provide them with the following email address for Birkbeck: covid@bbk.ac.uk.

Access to Birkbeck buildings

The Library is open with pre-booked socially-distanced study spaces available.

Regular updates are provided on the Library website. You must book your space.

Before going into the Library on the day you have booked, please order a home testing kit and be sure to report the results online to NHS Test and Trace, whether positive, negative or void. Be sure to follow the social distancing arrangements on site. 

The Library's full range of online services remains available and accessible, and this includes 180,000 ebooks and other online learning resources. All of these are available through the Library website. You can seek guidance from your Subject Librarian. The Library Chat facility is the easiest and quickest way to contact Library staff, although you can also email your question or raise an ASK query.  

Make sure you read the student protocol for visiting Birkbeck buildings before you travel. Please cycle or walk if possible. If using public transport, avoid the busiest routes and busy times. If travelling from areas which are undergoing surge testing, it is especially important to ensure that you are tested before you travel. 

You will need to wear a face mask while in the building (unless you are exempt). Please pay attention to the government information on how to wear a face mask

CAMPUS EVENTS AND TEACHING during 2020-21

The College will be continuing to monitor government guidance on social distancing for campus events and teaching. Due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus, we will again be delivering our programmes online in the Summer Term (April-July) 2021. 

A few of our courses incorporate an obligatory practice-based component such as a laboratory session or field trip which means students would need to attend some teaching events physically in order to complete the year. Departments will write to students separately to explain the arrangements for these courses.

My Studies

  • Designed with accessibility in mind, our excellent online resources and support will work across various devices and platforms. You will need a personal computer or laptop and reliable internet connection. If these are not available to you, at home, work or on campus, please check our financial support pages for news of relevant schemes of support that may be able to assist you.
  • If you are concerned about your progress on your course, please contact your personal tutor or lecturer. You can find the details of your personal tutor by logging in to My Birkbeck and selecting 'Academic Support'.
  • If you decide that the logistical challenges of continuing your studies are too great, you can take a break in studies due to compelling personal reasons. Before you do, please talk to your personal tutor or lecturer.
  • Keep checking your email, My Birkbeck and online calendars for information about your classes.
  • If you feel unsatisfied with your experience, please raise your concerns with the department in the first instance to see if they can help resolve your concerns. If you are still dissatisfied, you can lodge a formal complaint by following our student complaints policy and form on our policies page.
  • We are using national guidance from the Office for Students and the Quality Assurance Agency to ensure that teaching quality and standards are maintained, and to mitigate the impact of the situation on your studies and assessments.
  • If you are self-isolating, you are required to your update your status on My Birkbeck.

My exams and assessments

  • The College has developed alternative assessments to replace traditional exams. Online assessment details are provided in your Moodle modules.
  • The College has tried to make alternative assessments as accessible and inclusive as possible, with provision for students studying in different time zones. If you have a study support plan or personal exam provision and need to discuss your adjustments, please email the Disability and Dyslexia Service or the Mental Health Advisory Service.
  • Please continue to work on any coursework that has been set. You should submit your coursework in accordance with the instructions and deadlines provided by your department.

Research students and supervisors

  • The impact of COVID-19 is a particular threat to the long-term nature of the work of researchers, and the BGRS is working to find the best ways to support our PhD students.
  • Information and guidance specifically for PhD students and supervisors is available on the BGRS Moodle site.
  • Since May 2020, we have increased the frequency of meetings with PhD reps across the College in order to identify and address issues, with meetings taking place every four to six weeks.
  • Access to PhD supervision online has provided ongoing support with continuing research as well as support and advice about how to adapt to work where this is possible in order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. All PhD students have been asked to maintain a record of how the pandemic has impacted on their research, and continue to discuss this at supervisory meetings.
  • A College-wide process has been established to enable PhD students to request up to six months extension to their thesis submission deadlines where needed, as a result of the pandemic. Where a thesis submission extension has required a self-funded student to enrol beyond four years full-time or seven years part-time study, a fee supported COVID extension has been provided, funded by a donor to the College. 
  • The College invited internally funded studentship holders to request fully costed extensions matched at the same level of support as for UKRI funded studentships. 
  • We have created new guidance for students, supervisors and examiners about the criteria for a PhD, research degree examination and outcomes. At the point of exam entry, students are invited to submit a brief form which allows them to summarize how their thesis has been impacted by COVID-19 so that examiners are made aware of the impact of the pandemic on the work. 
  • PhD students have been able to switch from full-time to part-time in order to continue their research at a lower intensity and where it has not been possible to continue with research standard College processes allow for students to take breaks in studies.

Mitigating circumstances

  • Mitigating circumstances claims must be made through My Birkbeck.
  • If you are unable to submit an assessment or you consider that your performance suffered as a direct result of significant personal or family illness, bereavement or serious personal, emotional or financial challenges either related or unrelated to the outbreak of COVID-19, then you should submit a mitigating circumstances claim in My Birkbeck.
  • Please visit the links below and read the information carefully:
  • You can track your mitigating circumstances claim through the Ask system.

Financial support

  • Birkbeck offers a range of financial support options to students. We can take IT-related costs into account when assessing your financial support application.

Wellbeing

Student services

  • Our student services, including Careers, Study Skills, Wellbeing and Student Advice, are available to you virtually. We work closely with the Birkbeck Students' Union, who current students can also contact for support.
  • Students who are estranged from their families, or who are care leavers, are encouraged to get in touch with student services to explore the resource we have available and the financial support that you may be eligible for. 
  • Our Student Transition and Success schemes support students from under-represented backgrounds, including care leavers, and include meeting existing Birkbeck students who can provide advice and valuable insight linked to timely issues such as assessments and wellbeing.
  • Explore the resources available through BBK Futures to support immediate and longer-term career plans. 

TRAVEL

International students

  • Birkbeck attracts students from over 100 different countries, all of whom contribute to the vibrant community at the College. View our social activities.
  • You can also view upcoming events in My Birkbeck.
  • Over 1500 international students completed enrolment for the 2020/21 academic year.
  • Our teaching in the Summer Term (April-July) will be delivered online for all students, including those on a Student visa (previously Tier 4).
  • International students in the UK are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination for free. If you are asked for payment, please report this to us using the Ask system.  
  • We encourage international students to register with a GP and get an NHS number. 
  • If you have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine overseas, and are waiting for your second dose, you will receive the same vaccine for your second dose. If the vaccine you received for your first dose is not available in the UK, the NHS will offer you the most similar alternative. You should contact a GP to ensure you receive an appropriate vaccine for your second dose. 
  • Please visit our visa information page and  if you have specific queries.

Coronavirus symptoms and preventative measures

  • All adults aged 18 or over can now get vaccinated against COVID-19, and we encourage everyone in the Birkbeck community to ensure that they fully vaccinated.
  • If you suspect that you have coronavirus symptoms, visit the NHS's online coronavirus service, which will tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do next.
  • To find out more about what you can do to help stop viruses like the coronavirus spreading, visit the NHS website.
  • If you come onto the Birkbeck campus, please take a coronavirus rapid lateral flow test twice a week and report your results online.

Being respectful of others

  • The coronavirus is an international health issue and transcends ethnicity and nationality.
  • Where a member of the student community is harassed or intimidated in the name of the coronavirus, or indeed in any other issue, the College will treat any reports of harassment seriously and will investigate using College policy and procedure.
  • We are an inclusive learning community and in times of external challenge it is a time to support one another.

Contact information

  • If you are concerned about a student or member of staff, you can contact the College by logging a query on ASK.
  • If you are a student living in a University of London halls of residence, contact Residential.Life@london.ac.uk.
  • If you have a clear medical concern about yourself or someone else, use the NHS 111 online service.