Teaching Day from 2015-16

Teaching Day

This page gives you information about changes to the timetable that started from academic year 2015-16. It includes information about what mitigation has been put in place and how to get support if you need it.

Exeter - The new term one timetable for the Exeter campuses was issued to returning students on 9 September 2015 and to new entrants and Postgraduate Taught students on 14 September 2015; with term two timetables available from 27 October 2015.

Penryn - The timetable for the Penryn Campus was issued on 1 September 2015.

We are hoping to let student parents know their timetable a little earlier if possible although this will only be a draft version.

The timetable changed from 2015/16 academic year as follows:

  • all teaching begins on the half hour
  • the standard teaching day is 0830 – 1730
  • the teaching day includes 1730 – 1830 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays only, and these slots will be used as a last resort for large groups, when no other options are available, particularly for first year Undergraduate (UG) and Post Graduate Taught (PGT cohorts).  It is not anticipated that the Penryn or St Luke’s campuses would need to use these slots.
  • Wednesday afternoons have no compulsory undergraduate teaching after 1230.

In a typical student timetable this will usually mean one or two 0830 starts. The timetable will be designed to limit the number of 0830 and/or 1730 sessions per programme, and will fill the ‘prime time’ teaching slots of 0930-1730 first before working outwards to the early starts or late finishes. 

These changes give three more hours that can be used to build the timetable and mean we can continue to give students a good amount of flexibility in your module choices and across programmes. 

The changes to the teaching day are about providing the flexibility to deliver our awards by offering a wide variety of module choices.  To investigate ways we can better utilise our teaching space, as part of a wider project called Future Workplaces, a group of staff and student representatives researched and consulted for more than a year to try to find ways to ease pressure on the timetable that are durable for the next five years. Recommendations were passed by the University’s decision-making bodies of Council and Senate.

Do nothing: a number of strategies are already being used to deal with the pressures within timetabling (e.g., repeat teaching, some use of twilight teaching after 6pm, elective/repeat sessions, teaching in Wednesday afternoons). The planning process has shown that these will not be sufficient by 2015/16, and these changes aim to increase fairness in timetabling. 

Build teaching space: Through this project, we have arranged for the Northcott Theatre to be used for teaching on Thursdays and Fridays from 2015-16: this adds an approx. 450 seat lecture theatre to the Streatham Campus. Since 2011 we have created 1905 additional teaching seats across 18 buildings and 107 rooms, through creating new space and renovating existing rooms. All of this investment has reduced the pressure on the teaching day but does not eliminate the need for the timetable adjustments. Building a new teaching block could cost an estimated £12M, plus ongoing running and maintenance costs. Clearly this is a considerable amount of money which could be spent on other priorities. With changes to the student profile and changes to the way we deliver teaching there will need to be continual analysis of the kind of teaching space we need. 

Reduce student numbers: Our recruitment of high quality students helps the University support our excellent teaching and research by investing in our people, in new technologies and in our buildings and infrastructure.  We aim to recruit more Postgraduate Taught and Research Students, and international students, to add more diversity to our student body, and this will mean different requirements in teaching space. Limits have been set for undergraduate recruitment. The capacity of laboratory and other specialist spaces, some of which are used for double/triple repeat teaching, has been a factor in capping programme intakes already. 

Use of Wednesday afternoons: In previous formal and informal soundings, the student community has consistently asked that Wednesday afternoons remain protected within timetabling in order to support wellbeing and engagement with sporting and society activities. Saturday morning teaching was also considered but discounted. 

Other changes to timetable: Staff and students were asked to consider adding a 6-7 slot on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; or adding 6-9pm teaching on Thursdays. Feedback showed that the changes that are being implemented had less impact for evening activities, and created an additional hour in the ‘prime time’ middle of the day. 

Better utilise less populated parts of the timetabled week: Though use of teaching rooms is variable by day and week, the large teaching spaces are under the highest pressure and are in consistent use across the current teaching day and week.

Change pedagogy (methods of teaching): The University, Students’ Guild and FXU all see it as important that we do more small group teaching, develop recording of lectures and look at spreading teaching more across the academic year. Some programmes are looking to do this, but this work is in early stages and won’t be having an impact in the next academic year.  

Recording lectures:  Lecture capture is already being used in many lectures and through collaboration with the Students’ Guild and FXU a proposal to move to an opt-out policy is being considered for 2016/17.  Individual discussions with staff lecturing in the 0830 and 1730 slot in 2015-16 will take place to encourage lecture capture.  It is not suitable for seminars.

We looked at other universities: There are five Russell Group universities who have extended their teaching day, including 0815-1905, 0900-1900, 0800-1800 schedules and using 1800-2000 slots.  Three other Russell Group universities reported that they are considering extending the teaching day or piloting other teaching space solutions.

The Students’ Guild and FXU have been an invaluable part of the research and consultation process. Support for students is outlined in the section below, including travel planning, changes to catering, finding more spaces for societies, and bursaries for student parents or commuters. 

A review will take place during the first term to check that the mitigations put in place are working, led by the Learning Spaces Management Group in collaboration with the Students' Guild and FXU, and will be an item on the termly meeting that takes place between the University and your selected sabbatical officers. The review will engage with societies, commuters, student parents, SSLCs and other groups of students to find out how the timetable changes are affecting them and what, if any, additional support for this change we may need to consider before the next timetabling cycle commences.

If you have any queries, please contact SID.

Support available for students

A new student bursary scheme to support students with special circumstances, mainly student parents and commuters, is now available via Student Services and the Students’ Guild/FXU. Applications for Term 1 are now open. Students wishing to make an application must contact the Students’ Advice Unit to discuss their circumstances and receive an application. Applications will only be considered from students providing evidence of their timetable and verifiable justification and evidence of additional costs incurred due to the changes in the Teaching Day.

The deadline for receipt of applications for Term 1 2015 bursaries is 29th January 2016.


Across all of our campuses Student Services (Wellbeing/Health Centre for example) will synchronise their appointments to the half-hour start. 

Exeter campuses

Students who commute should initially contact Travel Devon who will offer assistance finding suitable means of public transport.  Bursaries (see above) will support commuters with a genuine need.  


Devon’s Travel Planning service https://www.traveldevon.info/

Penryn Campus

Bursaries (see above) will support commuters with a genuine need.  The 0830 slot will be mainly used for first year students, the majority of whom will be based on campus.  


Marja Vanloe, travel planning contact, FX Plus - marja.vanloef@fxplus.ac.uk 


The Family Centre is working on plans to open earlier and close later to support the changes.  

Contact: Val Phillips, Manager, Family Centre - familycentre@exeter.ac.uk


While there is no on-campus childcare in Penryn at present, a new family centre has been approved by the University Council and may be open by September 2016.  Provision of the service will be reviewed against demand as the project develops. 

Bursaries to support student parents whose childcare costs may increase will be available (please see bursaries above).

The Northcott Theatre will be used for teaching large groups two days a week. 

The use, and cost, of the Terrace Restaurant, Great Hall, and Thornlea is currently being reviewed to try to find more flat floored space for societies’ use.  

Timings of breakfast and dinner in catered halls will be altered. In Penryn, FX Plus will work to ensure there is provision to meet any changes to demand for onsite catering.  

Lecture capture is already being used in many lectures and through collaboration with the Students’ Guild and FXU a proposal to move to an opt-out policy is being considered for 2016/17. Individual discussions with staff lecturing in the 0830 and 1730 slot in 2015-16 will take place to encourage lecture capture or other mechanisms to support students who cannot attend. A review of lecture capture is currently underway, as we explore how best to ensure high quality lecture capture across all of our campuses.

Teams supporting facilities will adjust to new hours of operation.