Latest news

Staying alert!

by David Hewlett -

The announcements by the government in recent days do not lead us to make any changes to our current position.  The campus remains closed to all visitors and staff continue to work remotely.   We will continue to deliver teaching in online mode for the rest of the summer, and will monitor and review plans for the autumn term as government and public health advice/guidance continues to be forthcoming. 

We would also draw your attention to the published FAQ guidance issued by Durham University Common Awards for information on your programmes of study in the light of the COVID-19 ( We expect this this to be updated with further guidance in due course, as and when it is agreed by the University.  

General update and news

by David Hewlett -

As the lockdown and practices of 'distancing' continue unabated I hope that you are keeping safe and well, and are finding new ways of forming and sustaining community and communion.  Do stay in touch with your personal tutor and with Sr Bev as appropriate.

I indicated early in the lockdown that face to face activities would cease until the beginning of June. Since there is no prospect of an early change we are working on the assumption that this will continue for the second half of term as well. We have already put in place the plans to move learning to online modes and we are grateful for the constructive and positive feedback that we are getting about the online learning we are providing. However, I need to confirm that the Foundation Event at the beginning of June will not take place. Not being able to celebrate with leavers their time at Queen's is going to be very difficult, so we are thinking about how we can help mark an 'ending' for those leaving this summer or completing programmes of study and we want to keep open the possibility of doing something later when large scale gatherings again become possible, but it is too early to make any concrete plans for this. Other events we planned to celebrate our 50th anniversary as an ecumenical college are also deferred. We hope that David Chapman's lecture will take place in the autumn and we also hope that Professor David Ford will be able to come on Wednesday September 16th in the evening to help us reflect on John 17 and Jesus' prayer that we 'be one'. Put this in your diary as a sign of hope! 

I trust you will have seen the news about the appointment of Professor Clive Marsh to be the next Principal. I am thrilled by this decision and know that Clive will bring huge gifts and experience to lead the Foundation through the next phase of its life. Please remember him in your prayers as he prepares to take up his new responsibilities and for colleagues at Queen's as they go through a period of transition.

I last wrote at the end of March about the outcome of our Periodic External Review and the judgement of confidence without any qualifications by the reviewers. This is an outstanding and rare result. The report is published at Please read this and ensure that others are aware of its strong endorsement of the quality of our learning and formation for the Churches' ministries.

Finally, I am pleased to report that Governors of Queen's and Trustees of St John's College have agreed to transfer the Distance Learning programmes from St John's to Queen's. This is a significant development for Queen's which will expand the number of independent students and which has the potential to develop substantially our capacity to offer online learning, especially for lay learners. We are excited by this and will be working hard over the next few months as we plan to welcome current students and staff to Queen's for a new start in September. 

David Hewlett

Covid impact on teaching

by David Hewlett -

Dear Students,

As part of our institutional response to the current COVID-19 situation, and particularly its implications for teaching and assessment, we want to bring the following to your attention. These matters have been discussed with student academic representatives; they have supported the proposed changes and also made helpful suggestions as to their implementation.

1. Electronic teaching: We believe it unlikely that face-to-face teaching will happen during the summer term, and that online teaching will therefore need to take its place. Some students are already used to electronic mode of delivery as part of their pathway, but particularly for those who are not, we are suggesting that you might check that you have the equipment you will need for this. If you have concerns/questions about e-learning, and your own capacity/ability in this regard, please be in contact with your personal tutor to discuss the matter with them.

As a minimum, you will need online access, and ideally a web cam and microphone (either connected to your PC, or built-in to a laptop or tablet device) to support you in your learning; we expect that modules will normally include shared online gathering points, and it is good to be able to speak to/view each other when doing so.  We anticipate that e-learning will be delivered through Moodle (and its associated Big Blue Button video resourcing) and Zoom ( We would therefore encourage you to sign up with Zoom (using the free account option), and practice using it, so that you can familiarise yourself with its functionality. We are aware of some of the issues that have been raised in respect of Zoom usage, and continue to monitor those, but feel that it still remains appropriate for us to use it in the present circumstances.

2. Assignments: We do not plan on giving blanket extensions on assignments, as such extensions can often fail to take account of the complexity of a student’s own personal context/situation (and can also just add pressure later on). However, we are of course wanting to be cognisant of the various ways in which the present situation is affecting you, and wish to be generous in taking account of that. Hence, if you are needing an extension, please apply for one in the normal way – via your PT – and please give them the full details of how you yourself are being impacted, and what that might mean for you in terms of a new submission date. We would encourage you to be realistic in this, and try to take account of all your deadlines, so please do consider an Independent Learning Plan that incorporates all your deadlines, if you and your PT think that would be helpful/necessary. See the relevant section/guidance on Moodle.

Allied to this, we do not anticipate access to e.g. library resources will become available in the immediate future; therefore we wish to discourage extension requests merely to await access to further resources (except in the case of dissertations and independent research projects where the particularity and/or specificity of the source material may require awaiting their availability). Instead, we would encourage you to use existing online resources via the library website, e-books, or the Common Awards HUB; markers will be encouraged to affirm the various approaches you use in this regard, and to recognise that you will not have had the chance to use as wide a range as normal. Module tutors will also be giving particular guidance in module handbooks on resources that might be available online.

3. Term Dates: There will necessarily be changes to the modules you would be undertaking in the summer term 2020, and equally a knock-on to those undertaken in autumn 2020.  For example, because placements cannot take place in the summer, and because placement teaching/support needs to accompany the “doing” of them, we plan to move placement modules to the autumn term for both full-time and part-time students. This means re-timetabling summer term modules to run in the autumn term, and, in their place, bringing forward some autumn term modules (those that are more appropriate for online learning) into the summer term.

We will be speaking to student cohorts more specifically about the particular details of how this might affect you, but want to say that, at least for some Track 1 students, there will be a shortening of the summer term and an earlier start to the autumn term.  We anticipate therefore that, for some students, the autumn term will begin on Monday 7th September, but please note that we will only notify students affected by this change, so if you do not hear otherwise, the previously published start of term dates apply.

(Edited by Simon Davies - original submission Monday, 6 April 2020, 3:29 PM)

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