Sheffield post-grads told to catch up on a month’s worth of content alongside current work

It’s left some unable to apply to post-grad schemes and jobs

Post-grad students from the University of Sheffield have been left a month behind on modules after the course started late and their department refused to postpone exam dates accordingly.

The physics MSc course started on 26th October for postgrads but they were expected to catch up with content the undergrads were taught from 28th September. They have to keep up with current work alongside this.

“This is a massive 33 per cent of the semester that has been taken away from us and the workload is unrealistic for us to just catch up on it, giving us a clear disadvantage this academic year,” a student within the department told The Sheffield Tab.

“I am extremely upset and disappointed that this is how the central university has treated us.”

It has left some unable to apply to post-grad schemes and jobs, with others saying they had spent weeks working at 10+ hours a day but still hadn’t caught up with the modules.

Module leaders have given some extensions for deadlines and offered extra teaching in January, but those on the course say all this has done is push the work back into the already-stressful exam period.

Requests for exams to be postponed or content to be reduced have so far been denied by the course.

In a letter to the SU, another student wrote: “These unrealistic workloads are causing a great deal of stress to my peers and myself, adding to the practical difficulties and personal hardship we are experiencing during coronavirus.

“I am therefore writing to ask the Student’s Union to help us with this situation as we are in a completely disadvantaged position and drowning in the workload, through no fault of our own.

“We are expected to do three months of work in the space of two months, so the workload is unreasonably intense.”

Emails from the university seen by The Sheffield Tab explain that they were unable to give the postgrads access to all the necessary content before the course start date because accessing material on Blackboard requires students to be signed up for the module in question, and it was not possible to delay all co-taught modules.

The decision to delay the start date of post-grad courses came from within central university. Other courses had modules shifted by four weeks to allow students to catch up.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “As the pandemic continues to affect students across the globe, the change to the start date for the majority of our postgraduate taught courses enabled all of our students to ensure they could meet the conditions of their offer and plan their arrival in Sheffield. All prospective physics students were informed of this change and where possible, provided access to course material for a number of the co-taught modules before course start dates.

“The teaching year is structured differently for postgraduate taught students, with final exam boards in the autumn, unlike undergraduate students who have these in the summer. This longer teaching year means that, while the start of teaching will be delayed, and there will be some changes to delivery, the course will not be truncated.

“Teaching and support staff continue to meet regularly with our students on these courses to provide further organisation support and discuss any concerns. Following student feedback departmental staff have made adjustments to deadlines to reflect the delay in delivery of some of the co-taught modules.

“We appreciate this has been a challenging year, but we encourage any students experiencing difficulties with workload or deadlines, to get in touch with us for support, via their programme lead, module leader, department support team staff or central student support team.”

Other stories recommended by this writer:

There are seven types of Sheffield student during a pandemic, which one are you?

From Shrek to Robert Pattinson: These are Sheff freshers’ best window displays

‘I could get a 10 grand fine but it’s worth it’: Inside Sheffield’s illegal Halloween rave