Autumn term 2020

A safe campus for our students, staff and visitors.

Students outside Students' Union wearing masks

Latest update: new local restrictions

Sheffield is due to be placed in Tier 3 (Very High) of the national three-tier system from 00:01 on Saturday 24 October.

What this means for our staff and students

In line with government guidance, the University will remain open, with precautions in place for everyone’s safety. Our safety and support page has the latest guidance.

  • You must not socialise with anybody you don't live with indoors, including at someone’s home, or in pubs, cafes or restaurants.
  • You must not meet people you don't live with in a private garden or pub garden.
  • Following the latest guidance, students should not return to their permanent home during term time if living in Sheffield.

Restrictions for Sheffield: full guidance on Sheffield City Region website

We continue to deliver our blended learning provision with a reduced amount of face-to-face teaching and with additional risk mitigation measures in place.

We're carefully monitoring the situation and we're working with Sheffield City Council and the local public health team to see if we need to make any further changes. We will continue to keep our staff and students informed. 

Autumn 2020 – creating a safe campus

The health and wellbeing of our University community is our number one priority. We've been working hard to prepare a safe campus in readiness for the new academic year (28 September 2020 for most undergraduate studies and 26 October 2020 for most campus-based postgraduate courses).

Whether you’re joining us as a new student or returning to continue your studies, we’re dedicated to providing you with an excellent student experience. We will:

  • prioritise your safety both on and off campus
  • provide engaging, inspiring and supportive learning
  • create opportunities for you to socialise, meet people and try out new experiences
  • welcome you into a supportive, collegial community where nothing is more important than your education and wellbeing.

At the start of the pandemic we established a Covid-19 Management Group, led by members of the University Executive Board, and our staff have been working hard throughout to prepare contingency plans and manage any precautions we all may have to take as the situation evolves.

We're closely following the latest advice and guidance issued by the UK government, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We will continue to take all appropriate and necessary steps, as required by the official advice, to keep our community safe.

We want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to plan for all possible circumstances, and as the situation changes we will keep you updated with any further action you may need to take.

We know that some students may be unable to travel to Sheffield, due to international travel restrictions, visa delays, medical reasons or a disability. We are committed to ensuring that you are not excluded or disadvantaged for this reason, and you will not receive a penalty if you cannot attend. You will be able to access our induction activities and all our digital learning online, until you are able to join us later in Semester 1 or at the start of Semester 2.

Learning and teaching

We've adapted our teaching to make sure you continue to receive a world-class education from our teachers.

How you’ll be taught

You’ll be taught through a blend of face-to-face teaching and digital delivery in small groups in Sheffield, where social distancing can be maintained.

We would expect that all programmes will include an element of face-to-face teaching, although the amount and frequency will vary depending on the discipline. Your department will provide further detail about what this will be like for you.

In the autumn term, large lectures will be delivered solely online.

Laboratories, studios, clinical spaces and practical areas will be open and social distancing measures will be in place.


 Your timetable will be provided during induction week and will include details of both on-campus and online classes so that you can plan your time effectively.

The timetable is being prepared to ensure that you can move between classes in the safest possible way and to support social distancing.

To enable this, we will be temporarily extending the teaching day in the autumn semester:

  • Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays: 8am to 8pm teaching day
  • Wednesdays: 8am to 1pm for undergraduates, afternoons can be used for postgraduate taught teaching as usual
  • Fridays: 8am to 6pm teaching day

Your academic department will aim to complete face-to-face teaching activity in the current timetabling slots (9am to 6pm), only using the extended hours where needed.


All formal invigilated exams in the autumn term will be replaced by online forms of assessment. You will not be required to be on campus for final assessments.

Study abroad

If you are registered on a programme with study abroad in the 2020–21 academic year as a mandatory and integral part of your course, then this may continue, subject to risk assessment (including Foreign Office travel advice) and restrictions in place at your host university. You should liaise with your department about the necessary travel arrangements.

Optional study abroad and international placements are cancelled for semester one. Your department will advise you of alternative arrangements as soon as possible.


Access to the Information Commons and Western Bank Library will be available through bookable slots from Monday 28 September, 9.30am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday. 

You must wear a face covering in our libraries, unless you are exempt due to a medical reason or a disability. 

Where possible, we encourage you to chat with us online via Live Chat, or email: Library staff will be also available at reception points for help.

The University's extensive digital library is open as usual. Our online service has almost a million ebooks and over 60,000 journal titles along with a virtual library team and specialist librarians ready to support you to ensure your studies are unaffected as much as possible.

Information on the University Library

Safety guidance and what to do if you're self-isolating or have symptoms

Our top priority is always the health and safety of students, staff and our University community. We are closely following the latest advice to make our University a safe place to live and study. 

On our safety page you'll find information on:

  • what to do if you have symptoms or you're self-isolating
  • safety guidance on campus, at home and in the community

Our Covid-19 statistics page provides information about confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the University. It explains the process we follow when we receive notification of a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 and how we're supporting students and staff who are self-isolating.

How we're supporting students who are self-isolating

We recognise how difficult it is for students who are starting or returning to University and need to self-isolate because of Covid-19 cases.

To make sure we are supporting students in the best way possible, we will contact all students who are self-isolating to check on their welfare and offer practical and emotional support. We will also make sure that all students know how to access our mental health and wellbeing services while isolating. Eligible students can apply for financial support through our hardship fund, and students without access to the IT equipment needed for their course can apply to loan a laptop.

For students staying in University accommodation, we will also:

  • do a daily check-in on students who are symptomatic, have tested positive or who have registered with our Residence Life team for a daily welfare call to find out how they are feeling and what their specific needs may be 
  • offer support in accessing medication, shopping and food deliveries – including access to a guaranteed delivery of an essentials food, toiletries and a laundry product package while self-isolating
  • provide students details for local collect and deliver laundry services. The University will subsidise the cost of this to ensure self-isolating students are not paying any more than they would have to use our communal laundries. We are also providing a free hand wash detergent to all flats on request
  • make sure that all students know what to do if they or their flatmates become symptomatic, or very unwell 
  • offer a range of online residence life activities to support engagement and community building
  • daily peer-to-peer support drop-in sessions for students who are not self-isolating and may need assistance or signposting to support services

We are in regular contact with Sheffield City Council, Public Health England and other partners to make sure that we are sharing information about the local situation and responding to the latest guidance.

Get in touch or find out more

    Student support services

    Nothing is more important to us than your health and wellbeing. We’re continuing to provide an extensive range of support services so you can get on with doing what you do best.

    All our student support services will remain available online until it is safe to open in person. You can find out more on our support services page, including information about our on-campus University Health Service.

    The Sheffield experience

    We’re focused on continuing to provide our students with an outstanding student experience.

    Welcome programme

    Welcome 2020

    No matter when you arrive our Welcome Term will help you discover all we have to offer and help you feel at home.

    Welcome to Sheffield: information to help you settle in

    Orientation 2020

    Orientation 2020 is a programme of events, information sessions and community-building activities to help you settle in quickly to your new life in Sheffield.

    Orientation 2020 is taking place online during both our September and October arrival periods. 

    All activities are open to all students, and you can take part in sessions at any time, regardless of your level of study or start date. 

    Orientation: get involved 


    Subject to changing guidance, shops, bars and restaurants are open in Sheffield. Safety measures are in place at establishments to ensure social distancing.

    For more information, visit the Make Yourself at Home web page.

    Support – get in touch

    Our extensive range of support services for students and staff are all available online.