Teaching and Assessment FAQs for Students

 Information still relevant on Monday 6 July 

Teaching and Learning Arrangements

How will I be taught in Trimester 3 this year?

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, UCD will deliver Trimester 3 at distance, ensuring that the expected learning outcomes of the programmes are achieved. Further information about modules in Trimester 3 (availability, delivery & assessment) will be available from your Programme Director or Module Coordinator from Tuesday 12 May.  The Start of Trimester 3 has been delayed by one week and will begin on Monday 25 May.

What does at-distance teaching mean?

All classes are planned to re-commence as scheduled from Week 8, March 23, but at-distance. Module Coordinators will be in touch with the specific approach being taken, using Brightspace our Virtual Learning Environment, which will in many cases involve materials being made available to you to access and work through on your own schedule. We will continue to schedule teaching activities for each module in the existing trimester timetable and lecturers and tutors will continue to interact with you in line with this timetable, but through electronic means. Some lectures will be podcasted, but you will be given opportunities to interact with each other and with your lecturers remotely where possible. In some cases, classes will be live streamed at your normal lecture time. Tutorials and group work will be mediated through on-line services especially the Virtual Classroom and Discussion Forum in Brightspace.

Can I come into UCD?

No. The university while operational is not accessible to students in line with national guidelines. The exception to this are those students who are living in campus accommodation.

Where will my lectures and support materials be available?

All lecture and support materials will be available in Brightspace, UCD’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). These include module information, learning materials, activities and assessments and all materials will be available immediately for the remainder of the trimester. Click here for more information on this.

What sort of learning materials will be on Brightspace?

Your lecturer/Module Coordinator will make available the materials that will best support your learning during this period. This will include some of the following examples: narrated Powerpoint slides, pre-recorded lecturers/videos, case studies, readings, discussion forum, quizzes, online group activities.

I am an international student and wish to/or have returned home. How will the time difference affect my ability to take part in remote learning / classes/assessments?

This is an exceptional situation and some mutual flexibility will be required. Acknowledging that not all students will be able to participate in ‘live’ sessions core content will be available in other formats on Brightspace so that your core learning will not be disadvantaged. Where live activity does take place, it will be in line with the University timetable and follow local UCD time (UTC/GMT +0).

I have never used Brightspace who should I contact?

All students have an account in Brightspace and are automatically enrolled into their modules. You can access Brightspace through UCD Connect with your Connect username and password. If you would like more in-depth support on Brightspace topics, please log into Brightspace and click on Help, Brightspace Essentials Resources for even more help guides and videos. Alternatively, IT Services have developed a set of guides to help you with using Brightspace. It can be accessed here.

If you have problems accessing your account, IT support is available to all UCD staff and students. You can contact our IT Helpdesk at (01) 716 2700 or by emailing ithelpdesk@ucd.ie General hours of service are Monday to Friday, 09.00 to 17.30pm.
I cannot connect to my live lecture who do I contact?

Where you are experiencing difficulties email your lecturer/Module Coordinator and let them know. Collaborate Ultra is the virtual classroom tool used by UCD to facilitate online classes, it can be accessed directly from within Brightspace. Your lecturer or Module Coordinator will post a link to the virtual classroom for you to join. Virtual Classroom is a menu item under “Module Tools” in your module area on Brightspace. Click here for further assistance
Click here to find out how to get started in advance of your first online lecture.
Click here to find troubleshooting information on accessing Collaborate Ultra virtual classrooms.
If you are having trouble connecting, you should also email your lecturer / Module Coordinator to let them know. Your core content will be available on Brightspace. Where your lecturer / Module Coordinator decides to use live classes they may record the lecture and make it available on Brightspace afterwards.

IT support is available to all UCD staff and students. You can contact our IT Helpdesk at (01) 716 2700 or by emailing ithelpdesk@ucd.ie General hours of service are Monday to Friday, 09.00 to 17.30.

Will my tutorials and seminars still be happening?

Your lecturers / Module Coordinator will inform you about how tutorials and seminars will operate. In the main they will be conducted through Collaborate Ultra in Brightspace or through Google Hangouts. They will give you instructions as to how to log on and participate.

I have never participated in an online classroom before, how do I access the virtual classroom that my lecturer/ Module Coordinator emailed me about?

Collaborate Ultra is the virtual classroom tool used by UCD to facilitate online classes, it can be accessed directly from within Brightspace. Your lecturer/Module Coordinator will post a link to the virtual classroom for you to join. Virtual Classroom is a menu item under “Module Tools” in your module area on Brightspace. Click here for more information on this.

My lecturer/ Module Coordinator emailed me about a discussion forum, what is it? And how do I access it?

An online discussion forum / or topics are often used within modules to encourage collaboration between classmates where you can chat about course materials, ask questions and participate in group work. Click here for more information on creating a discussion thread.

My lecturer / Module Coordinator has offered Virtual Office Hours, but I can’t make contact in this way. What do I do?

You can email your lecturer/ Module Coordinator and explain that you cannot get access. Be specific about your query in your email so your lecturer/Module Coordinator can help you or direct you to someone who can. In large classes it will be difficult for lecturers/Module Coordinators to maintain individual contact so be patient and wait for their reply and keep checking Brightspace for relevant announcements. Some lecturers will post FAQs concerning their own modules so look out for those on Brightspace.

I have a disability and am overwhelmed by the new technologies.

UCD Access & Lifelong Learning are developing resources to assist students to adapt to this new working environment. Students can contact support staff for help by emailing disability@ucd.ie.

I have a learning difficulty and cannot type fast enough or process information quickly enough to show that I am participating in online discussions. What can I do?

Access & Lifelong Learning ha prepared some advice for students who have difficulties with typing and/or processing information. These can be found on the UCD Access & Lifelong Learning FAQ page or you can contact staff for advice by emailing disability@ucd.ie.

I have additional needs and was wondering if my lecturers will allow extra time in Brightspace to complete online assessments.

It is possible for lecturers to allow extra time in Brightspace to complete online assessments.

I've returned to China to continue my studies. How can I access UCD's online systems?

UCD has developed a tailored VPN (Virtual Private Network) service for its students in China. Email advice on how to download and access this VPN has been sent separately to all non-EU students (registered full-time in Dublin) who are Chinese citizens and/or Chinese residents. If you have not received this email, but are in China and need to access UCD's online systems, please contact the IT Helpdesk at ithelpdesk@ucd.ie who can assist you with access to the VPN.

Assessment and Examinations

How will assessments take place during the Summer Trimester?

All assessments will take place at distance. Your Module Coordinator will inform you of specific assessment arrangements in place for your modules

How will I know when my examination will take place or when my assignment is due in Summer Trimester?

Your lecturers / Module Coordinators will provide you with information on the timings and any submission date for assessments due to take place in Summer Trimester.

How will at distance teaching affect my end of trimester assessment?

Currently, lecturers and Module Coordinators are reviewing the assessments for the Summer Trimester and details are included in your module descriptor. These changes may include an assignment in lieu of examination: an assignment is set that aligns with intended outcomes of the original examination and may take a variety of formats, e.g. essay, report, problem sheet. Submission will be via Brightspace on a designated date. You will be informed well in advance about these submission dates via Brightspace.

Will all examinations be at a distance?

Yes. There will be no face to face examinations held at the end of this trimester. Module Coordinators have put in place alternative assessments for each module taking account of the learning outcomes to be assessed for that module. This information is available in the module descriptor and you should contact your module coordinator / programme coordinator for further information.

When will my lecturer / Module Coordinator be in touch about my examinations and assessments?

You will receive clear comprehensive instructions on the altered delivery and assessment approaches and associated technologies. Where there is any significant change in your assessment strategy, your lecturer/ Module Coordinator/ Programme Director will ensure that you are notified as soon as possible and undertake to give you reasonable notice. You should assume, unless notified otherwise, that existing continuous assessment assignments will stand.

If I don’t have internet access who do I contact?

Some students for a variety of reasons may have challenges engaging with online assessment. Brightspace is a fully responsive system that works well through web browsers on multiple mobile devices to give you the same information and experiences as on your computer and can be used with 3G and 4G data services on a mobile device. We are seeking to put in place arrangements for those who have insufficient access. If you are in this position, you should first self-identify to your lecturer, Module Coordinator or Programme Director as quickly as possible and contact UCD IT Services. You can contact our IT Helpdesk at (01) 716 2700 or by emailing ithelpdesk@ucd.ie General hours of service are Monday to Friday, 09.00 to 17.30.


How do I submit my assignment?


You will submit your assignment through Brightspace. The instructions on doing this are here.


When I submit my assignment how do I know that my lecturer has received it?


When you submit your assignment you will receive a notification that it has been submitted successfully.

If I don’t do well in the examination due to taking it online will this be taken into account?

Whatever issues emerge in the online context will be taken into account once you inform your lecturer / Module Coordinator clearly indicating what those issues are. Lecturers / Module Coordinators have been advised where they find it possible to do so (but cannot guarantee) to offer practice sessions that are not graded to ensure that you have familiarity with the process. Lecturers / Module Coordinators will judge your work having regard to the unfamiliar teaching and learning context that you are now experiencing. Lecturers / Module Coordinators will share any revised marking criteria with you.

When and how will resits take place?

The approach to resits is outlined in the module descriptor. If a resit is available, you will be required to undertake an assignment of an examination within the subsequent two trimesters. Your lecturer/Module Coordinator will inform you about your resit opportunities if they are required and they will be conducted in line with UCD regulations.

What are my remediation options?

If you fail a module in this trimester, normal remediation options will apply. In addition, Schools can offer an in-module resit to students that is not a minimum assessment and may award grades across the full grade profile.  Such an offering would be an additional opportunity; the specified resit would also be available.  In the context of Covid-19 where a module grade is awarded as part of a resit attempt it will be graded and not suffixed with (R).

Guidance on remediation for each module is available in the module descriptor. Your lecturer / Module Coordinator will inform you of all of your remediation options.

What if I feel disadvantaged by the type of assessment offered online?

If you feel disadvantaged by the type of assessment offered online you should raise this with your module co-ordinator in the first instance, as your module co-ordinator is best placed to determine the appropriate mechanisms to assess whether learning outcomes have been achieved.

What if there has been an error in the assessment process?

If you believe that there has been an error in the assessment process, it may be possible to submit an Assessment Appeal. Please see the Assessment Appeals webpage for further information on permitted grounds for appeal and on the Assessment Appeals process. Please note that Assessment Appeals may only be submitted following the release of final results.

I am in the middle of practical work for my PhD practical work on projects, what happens now, do I get an extension? How does this affect my fees or scholarship?

Your PhD Supervisor will provide you with guidance and support and will advise on the regulatory requirements concerning extensions and implications for fees. UCD does not want any student disadvantaged by what is currently happening.

In order to complete my assignment, I need materials that are only available in hard copy in the Library (e.g. Special Collections materials); what can I do now?

Liaise with your lecturer/Module Coordinator in relation to the completion of your assignment and they will provide you with guidance as to how best to proceed in the current context.

The extenuating circumstances process asks me to provide evidence of my circumstances such as note from my doctor or counsellor. Is this still needed?

No. The requirement for written verification to support an application for Extenuating Circumstances (5.1 and 5.2 in the policy) is waived for the remainder of the trimester. A formal statement of circumstances by a student will still be required. The University maintains the right to investigate the validity of all applications. We know that the COVID 19 pandemic is placing a significant strain on all elements of society, including students and the vital services from whom you would ordinarily seek evidence in support of an extenuating circumstances application.

In addition, we recognise that all students involved in study and assessment since the return from the fieldwork break have extenuating circumstances that should be taken into account during the grading and grade approval process.  You only need specifically apply for extenuating circumstances where they you are seeking a remedy when they wish to have specific components of the module(s) assessed on a further occasion, without academic penalty (IX Grade).

Will my grade be affected this trimester?

It is very important that you prepare and study diligently for your examinations and assessments and it is recognised that all students have extenuating circumstances due to Covid-19. Module coordinators will have access to your past grades for up to 3 years. All grades will be reviewed during the grading process, because there is an assumption that everyone’s situation falls under extenuating circumstances. If your grade is lower, module coordinators will be able to align it according to your past performance. If your grade is higher, module coordinators will award you a higher grade.

Is it possible for my GPA to go down this year?

It is very important that you prepare and study diligently for your examinations and assessments. In the context of Covid-19 every student’s circumstances is taken into account. Your lecturer will have access to your previous grade performance and will decide on your situation based on the results that you have received this trimester and compare to what you have achieved before.

Is this a no detriment policy?

No. The university policy is that no one size fits all approach is appropriate with reference to examining and grading. The guidelines issued to Module Coordinators, Schools, Programme Examination Committees and Programme Examination Boards are framed to support each individual student acknowledging their particular circumstances during Covid-19.

What is an IA Grade?

An IA grade provide a temporary grade to allow time for a student to remedy outstanding grades where the student has made an attempt at a module and an issue has arisen or performance impacted, or was unable to make an attempt due to Covid-related issues and in-module component resit was not an option. There are no academic penalties or fee implications associated with this grade.

If I fail a module this trimester what options do I have?

Your options should be explained clearly in your module descriptor. Academic Regulations Covid-19 amendments acknowledge that all students have extenuating circumstances during this period.


Will there be graduations this year?

Under the current restrictions, it is not possible to hold graduation ceremonies in O’Reilly Hall. The University will continue to graduate students to allow them to use there awards. This may be through graduation in absentia or in virtual graduation ceremonies throughout the summer and autumn. We will be in contact with the student community informing them of the situation nearer the time and based on the information available at that time.

Other related issues

What should I do if I experience a bereavement and cannot engage with my studies?

If you experience a bereavement contact your Student Adviser and let the Programme Office in the School/College know immediately. They will support you in relation to applying for extenuating circumstances.

I am afraid that I won’t be able to manage my studies alongside my additional extra caring responsibilities; what can I do?

Contact your Student Adviser immediately with any concerns that you may have and they will advise you as to how best to proceed outlining the options that are available to you. 

I have been ill and missed a considerable part of the trimester already, but am ready to return to college what do I do now?

It is important that you contact your Student Adviser and Programme/School/College Office for advice in terms of accessing Brightspace and your teaching and learning materials online. It will be very important that you contact your Module Coordinator and Programme Directors to inform them about your return. 

I have applied for a Leave of Absence, how am I affected by the current closure?

Your application for Leave of Absence will not be affected by the current circumstances and the College/ Programme Office will process it in the usual way.

I want to defer the rest of the trimester who do I contact?

You should contact your Student Adviser and College / Programme Office if you want to defer by following UCD procedures in the usual way.

With all of this going on will I graduate on time and what happens if I do not? Will I have to pay more money?

We do not anticipate any delay in student progression as a result of the current circumstances though the situation is fluid. Graduations will continue though it is likely that ceremonies may not take place as normal in the coming months. No additional fees will be due if you complete your course with the requirement to repeat or resit any coursework. In some professional programmes, there may be specific requirements associated with placements or competencies that cannot be undertaken due to external events as this is an evolving situation. This may delay your graduation but no additional fee will be charged in order to complete these activities when they are available.

Can I access career related support while I’m off campus?

Yes, you can – whether you are based in Ireland or have returned to your home country, you can access UCD Careers Network services virtually. Undergraduate and graduate taught & research students can book appointments as normal via CareersConnect. The appointment will take place virtually via Google Hangouts or Skype (a telephone appointment is also possible). If you are having difficulty with internet connectivity or any other aspect of the appointment booking process please contact careers@ucd.ie. Online practice interviews are available via our Sonru platform. Contact us to arrange a practice interview. There is a wealth of career related resources available on the Careers Network website, including online versions of our Career Guides for each UCD College, access to platforms such as Vault (industry and company profiles, job search tips etc.) and Profiling for Success (psychometric tests, personality and career interest profiles), our “5 minutes on…..” video series and our Jumpstart resource for international students.

I have not yet secured a graduate job and I am concerned about the recruitment market. What support is available to me?

You can access all the services and supports of UCD Careers Network while you are a UCD student, and for up to 2 years after you graduate. If you are concerned about your graduate employment prospects please make an appointment to speak to one of our Career & Skills Consultants.

I had planned to volunteer abroad during the Summer but now cannot go. Where can I find out about volunteering options in Ireland?

The UCD in the Community website is a great place to start. You can also find volunteering opportunities on www.activelink.ie.

I was due to start an academic internship, but my host has rescinded the offer. What should I do?

Please contact the Internship Manager for your programme in the first instance. They will advise you on next steps. If you would like to discuss ways in which you can boost your employability over the coming months, please make an appointment to speak to one of our Career & Skills Consultants.

I’m registered for a Careers Network workshop. Is this still taking place?

Yes, we are delivering our workshops virtually. If you are registered for a Careers Network workshop the facilitator will be in touch to let you know how to participate virtually and access the learning materials. You can register for upcoming workshops and careers/recruitment events on CareersConnect.