Learning and Teaching Arrangements

Learning and Teaching Arrangements

Start and finish times of classes

It is University policy that, although classes are timetabled to commence at a stipulated time (i.e. 2pm), where possible, they should start at five minutes past the published time and finish ten minutes early. This convention is intended to permit students sufficient time to move between classes, whether physically or in an online environment. It also assists academic and support staff to organise materials and technology for subsequent classes.


Please note that during the period impacted by Covid-19, this policy may be further impacted by Health and Safety requirements, such as the need for the cleaning of classrooms.

Wednesday Afternoon Teaching

The University’s policy is that Schools may request that teaching activities be timetabled on a Wednesday after 1.00 p.m. in the Winter, Spring and Summer Terms provided that the same activities are available at another time during the same week. This should ensure that students have the choice to attend on the Wednesday afternoon or at some other time.

Requests for exemption from this policy (e.g. for School Placement or Clinical Teaching) should be submitted to the Deputy Academic Registrar (roombookings@abdn.ac.uk), for consideration by the Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching).

Academic Flexibility for Elite/High Performance Sports

Students who participate in High Performance Sports may apply for reasonable academic flexibility for attendance at classes whilst preserving academic quality standards. Appropriate flexibility is dependent upon the activity being undertaken. This may include, but is not limited to authorised absence from a compulsory lecture, tutorial, or lab, or a revised deadline for submission of a piece of assessed work.

In exceptional circumstances, such as a student competing in or preparing for a major international event, a request may be made for an alternative assessment or examination date.

Further information is available from the University’s Sports and Exercise Team (www.abdn.ac.uk/sportandexercise). 

Quotas for Honours Options

The University Committee on Teaching and Learning (26 March 1999) agreed that quotas should not be permitted for any courses save in exceptional circumstances and that it was the responsibility of the Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) to consider requests for quotas on an individual course basis.

In applying to the QAC for exemption to permit a quota being operated for a particular course, a School should include the following:-

  • the reasons for requesting a quota, including a pedagogical case as to why it would be inappropriate or impracticable to design a course for delivery to a relatively larger number of students;
  • the proposed method of selecting students in order to apply a quota;
  • whether there would be any flexibility in the method of selection e.g. by ensuring that any student with a career intention in a particular speciality should not be prevented from registering for a particular course if they deemed that course to be essential for their career intention.

The QAC, in deciding whether or not to allow a quota for a particular course, will consider the level of the course (i.e. Level 1-5) and whether the proposed maximum number to be allowed to register on a course would be appropriate for that level.

Timetabling of Core Courses

The UCTL (21 October 1999) approved a reiteration of the University’s policy that, unless there were extenuating circumstances, the timetabling of compulsory (core) courses for any degree programme should not be changed once publicised.

Students’ Work Affected by their Undertaking Paid Employment

The University recognises that many full-time students have to undertake part-time paid employment to provide financial support for their studies. The University’s guideline is that full-time students should spend no more than 15 hours per week undertaking employment during term-time.

Where a potential conflict may arise in regard to fulfilling the attendance and/or performance requirements of a particular course, students should seek advice from the relevant Course Co-ordinator or Head of School, as appropriate, at the earliest opportunity. Notwithstanding this, academic standards cannot be compromised and students’ first priority must be to fulfil the academic obligations of their studies.

Consequently, students must ensure that their employment commitments do not conflict with the requirements of their studies, or in the case of international students, with the requirements of their visas.

Disclosure Checking for Students

The University of Aberdeen, as a public service provider, is committed to trying to ensure that its students pose no danger to those with whom they will interact during their studies at the University. In the University’s context, individuals who are specifically employed for the majority of their time in caring for, supervising and advising children and/or protected adults will be required to satisfactorily complete a Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check. Examples of these include students providing a welfare service to fellow students, and students whose programmes require contact with persons under 18 such as Medicine, Dentistry and Education.  

The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 creates two main offences: - i) it is an offence for organisations to employ a person who is on the barred list for the type of regulated work they are doing with children or Protected Adults and ii) it is an offence for barred individuals to put themselves forward for regulated work while barred.  Membership of the Scheme is not compulsory, but it is an offence to appoint a barred person to do regulated work.

The legislation uses the following definitions:

  • Children - all people under the age of 18
  • Protected Adults - individuals aged 16 or over who are provided with a type of care (including healthcare), support or welfare service.
  • Regulated Work - individuals who are specifically employed for the majority of their time in caring for, supervising and advising children and/or protected adults

One of the main mechanisms that the University uses to ensure students pose no threat to those whom they will be interacting with during their studies is a Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check.  Therefore, as a matter of course all students who are required as part of their course of study to be in unsupervised contact with persons aged under 18, will be subject to a PVG check.  Students admitted to programmes which currently have compulsory elements requiring contact with vulnerable groups, for example Medicine, Dentistry and Education are routinely subject to a PVG check; this process is dealt with as part of the University Admissions procedures.  On all other degree programmes PVG checks are required for students at point of first registration on to a course. Further information regarding instances where students may be required to complete a PVG check are available from Human Resources. 

Course approval requests include a ‘check box’ to highlight the potential requirement of PVG check.  Where a PVG check is required for a particular course, the information is displayed in the ‘Notes’ section of the University Catalogue of Courses.  Each School is responsible for keeping a record of all courses requiring a PVG check and ensuring applications are processed correctly. Schools are also responsible for ensuring the appropriate PVG checks are undertaken for those doing research work involving contact with vulnerable groups.  Outcomes of the PVG check (satisfactory or unsatisfactory) are recorded and held within the University Student Record System.