What can I expect from my programme - is there a Students' Charter?

You have every right to expect fair and reasonable treatment from your programme. Like most institutions, we write these things down so that you will know what to expect, but we do not call them a Students' Charter. You are well advised to know your rights, so find them out from the Peter Chalk Information Hub

Does Natural Sciences have an equal opportunities policy?

Yes:  Natural Sciences is committed to treating all students equitably, irrespective of gender, race, physical capabilities, religion and sexual orientation.

What do I do if I have special needs?

If you have a long-term condition that affects your academic work, you should contact Natural Sciences' Special Needs Officer (Dr Nicky King). Students that are registered dyslexic, or have other special needs relating to examinations should inform the Special Needs Officer or the Peter Chalk Information Hub by the end of the Term 1.

You shoulkd also consider visiting the University's AccessAbility Centre, which is located on the first floor of the Forum Building on the Streatham Campus. Further information can be found on the AccessAbility website.

What do I do if I am dyslexic?

You should contact Natural Sciences' Special Needs Officer (Dr Nicky King). If you have the necessary certificate, you have the opportunity to register with Natural Sciences so as to receive advice and support and also extra time in assessments and exams. The Special Needs Offcer can also advise you on what to do if you suspect you may have dyslexia. It is your responsibility to ensure that the module co-ordinators are aware of any additional time that you may be entitled to for course assessments etc.

What happens if I am ethically opposed to work on animals?

Some modules, including some aspects of the compulsory year 1 NSC1003 and year 2 and year 3 biological sciences modules, may involve studying live animals, or dissection of dead ones. Relevant information is given in the synopses to these modules. Staff are sensitive to animal welfare, and are active in national movements to maintain the highest standards of husbandry and the responsible use of living material for teaching and research. We reduce the killing of organisms to the minimal level, which we believe appropriate for teaching our subject.

If you are ethically opposed to scientific work involving animals, you are able to abstain from year 1 practicals in compulsory (core) modules that involve dissections. However, you must arrange for this abstention early in the year by notifying the Programme Director, Professor Geoff Nash, in writing. After year 1, no modules with work on animals are compulsory, and there is no provision for ethical abstention.

How can I help change and develop the way Natural Sciences operates?

You might like to help your programme change for the better. You might like to learn about how an educational institution works, and you might want to improve your CV – all good reasons to get involved.

The main way to do this is to become a course representative on the Student-Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC). You will be given full training by the Students’ Guild and your job will be to make yourself known to fellow students, to listen to student opinions and concerns, to communicate these at Committee meetings, and to relay progress back to students. SSLC members also attend meetings of other College committees (e.g. Education Committee) where decisions about teaching and the treatment of students are made. You can find out more about this, and volunteer to serve, by talking to the Senior Tutor.

We also also seek your opinion on each of the modules which you take, and also your views about the programme as a whole at the end of the academic year. This is done online using Accelerate. You will be prompted by e-mail when the evaluation forms are open, and we would ask that you make every effort to complete the evaluations because without your input we cannot consider changes. The summaries of the evaluations are discussed and are available on UG admin office ELE pages. These evaluations also feed into the Natural Sciences’ Board of Studies annual module review process and will also be made available to students.

Final year students are also encouraged to take part in the National Student Survey (NSS) and Natural Sciences will take into consideration the outcome and make plans and action them accordingly to improve the student experience.

What can I expect from my Personal Tutor?

You will be assigned a Personal Tutor for the duration of your studies. Your personal tutor will be an experienced member of the staff who can listen to just about any concern you have, large or small. They will be the obvious person to answer your questions and to help sort out academic and, if necessary, personal problems. Your connection with your personal tutor will continue until you graduate, and you will have regular, timetabled meetings with them throughout your time here. After graduating, you can ask them to act as a referee when applying for jobs or a further degree.

Your personal tutor will normally be prepared to see you to discuss problems at any time during working hours or by appointment within 24 hours. Your personal tutor will tell you if they are going to be absent for a significant period and an arrangement will then be made, via the Senior Tutor, to provide a stand-in tutor for you. If your personal tutor is unable to help you please make an appointment to see the Senior Tutor.

Your personal tutor will record your attendance at scheduled meetings, and will report frequent absences to the Senior Tutor. He/she will also help you with your Personal Development Plan (PDP) to enable you to evaluate your academic progress.

Your personal tutor will give you some more information about the tutoring system when you first meet.

Can I change my Personal Tutor?

You can ask for a change of personal tutor via the Senior Tutor however, you wil not be able to choose a particular member of staff as tutor groups have to remain balanced. Our view is that occasional incompatibility between a student and personal tutor is inevitable and does not reflect badly on either party - a simple change of tutor can be an effective and mutually beneficial solution.

What do I do if a member of staff fails to turn up?

In the unlikely event that a lecture has to be cancelled, every effort will be taken to let you know via your timetable, email, ELE or telephone.

Please note that you are only expected to wait for 15 minutes after the start time before leaving the room if no lecturer arrives to take the session. Please inform the Peter Chalk Information Hub should this happen.

What recognition is therefore the extracurricular activities or volunteer work that I do?

The Exeter Award is an achievement award for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Exeter. The Award is designed to enhance the employability of University of Exeter graduates by providing official recognition and evidence of extra-curricular activities and achievements. These include:

  • attendance at Careers and Employment Service and other employability skills sessions
  • participation in sporting and musical activities
  • engagement in work experience 
  • and voluntary work.

Find out about registering for The Exeter Award.

What happens if I miss a class?

Sometimes, you will miss a class for some unavoidable reason (e.g. illness). If you know in advance that you will miss a practical class or tutorial, then you should report it on iExeter.

If you are absent from classes for between four and six consecutive days you must complete and submit a certificate (we call this self certification of absence). You must give the certificate to the Peter Chalk Information Hub. You can get blank copies of the certificate from the Hub. If you are absent for more than six days you must get a doctor's certificate if your condition is medical – the doctors at the University Health Centre tel. (01392) 676606, can do this, or your own GP if necessary. We call this a medical certification of absence. If your absence arises for another, non-medical reason, then contact your personal tutor, who will advise you.

Certifying your absence is very important. You will definitely need to have a certified absence if you miss a test, assessment, or exam (see What happens if I get too ill to take a test or exam?) or you will be given a zero mark. If you think your absence has affected your performance in a test or exam even if you didn't miss it, then you will need certification to help substantiate this claim. This is something you should discuss with your personal tutor. The University’s rules on certifying absence may be found on the central University pages.

Natural Sciences staff monitor your attendance at practicals and tutorials and will identify persistent absentees. Persistent absenteeism will lead initially to a student being interviewed, and may eventually lead to disciplinary action if the absences are unjustifiable. In the worst possible case, disciplinary action can involve a student being made to withdraw from the programme.

What do I do if I want to complain?

In the first instance, please register your complaint with the Peter Chalk Information Hub who will then direct you to the correct course of action. General issues can be dealt with through your Year Representative on the Student-Staff Liaison Committee. You can find out who your Year Representative is by contacting the SSLC Subject Chair, your Personal Tutor or the Senior Tutor. For issues that are special to yourself or more serious, contact the Peter Chalk Information Hub or the Senior Tutor.

The University has standard procedures to receive and resolve your problems, but we would hope to resolve them informally if at all possible. If you want advice from outside Natural Sciences, go to the Students' Guild Advice Unit.

What is ELE?

ELE is the University's virtual learning environment, which enables students to access course materials and use tools such as discussion forms and learning logs to interact on line.


Log in to ELE via iExeter (under 'My Course').

When you login you should see a list of all the modules for which you are registered. You will not be able to see any modules until you have completed your module selection with your personal tutor and, in the first instance, it may take a few days for the system to update your access. When you go to the site for a module you will find varying amounts of information, dependent on the module and the way in which it is taught. As a minimum you should be able to find:  the module description, a list of teaching staff and their contact details, a module timetable, a laboratory scheduled, details of the mentods of assessment applied to the module and a copy of the annual module review. In most cases you can also find copies of lecture notes and a list of additional resources.

Who do I contact if there is a problem with ELE?

This depends on the problem:

1. If you cannot see one module which you believe you are registered for, or you cannot see any modules listed.

This is most likely to occur if there is a problem with your online registration status for one, or all, of the modules. In the first instance you should contact the Peter Chalk Information Hub.

2. My registration status is correct but I still cannot see certain modules.

If you registration status has recently changed it may take 24 hours before you are able to see the correct modules. If there is still a problem contact the Peter Chalk Information Hub.

3. Material on ELE will not download correctly on to my computer.

You need to check your security settings as these may be prohibiting file downloads. Follow the 'troubleshooting' link from ELE login page to show you the correct settings. If you are still experiencing problems contact the Peter Chalk Information Hub.

4. The material on ELE is out of date or key information is missing.

In this case please contact one of the teaching staff on the module, preferably the module coordinator.

Will I be penalised if I hand work in late?

Yes. Late work will be marked for a maximum of a pass (40%) if submitted late, unless an extension has previously been given. To apply for an extension see the University's mitigation guidance. Deadlines will be publicised in advance and can be seen via your BART pages (see below).

Please note two important points:

  • CA tests will not be re-arranged
  • Work submitted more than 14 days late may not be marked

What is plagiarism?

In the next three years you will be submitting a good deal of written work, some of which will contribute to your eventual results. Do not plagiarise.

Plagiarism is defined as representing as your own the words or ideas of other people, whether published or not. In the university context it may take the form of e.g. copying chunks of a textbook, web page, lecture handout or whatever into an essay without acknowledging where they come from, or copying another student’s work and passing it off as your own. Always acknowledge direct quotes by naming the source – you often will receive credit for showing evidence of background reading – and never use other people’s results or copy their work without full attribution. Do not permit your work to be copied by others. Internet plagiarism is dealt with in the same way as plagiarism from printed sources and search engines make it easy to detect. The use of essay bank material for assessment purposes is not permitted under any circumstances. Any case of cheating and or plagiarism is liable to be given zero marks, and may be treated as a disciplinary offence by the University. Refer to the University's central web pages for further information. Plagiarism is not permitted and will be severely punished.

We use online plagiarism detection software, called Turnitin, which automatically compares your work with published work and internet sources. You may be requested to submit some pieces of coursework via Turnitin.

Additionally, you are not allowed to take any books, notes or electronic devices into examinations unless they have been authorised. You will have to get an authorisation sticker put on your calculator before you are allowed to take it into an exam – contact the Peter Chalk Information Hub about this.