Information for Lecturers

The SUPA Graduate School is not an ordinary Graduate School! With around 600 students based in eight universities, we are in a position to provide excellent training to a large number of the physicists who will become leaders in many fields and make a huge contribution to society. By adding to their knowledge base through your teaching, you are a vital part of these aspiring physicists’ careers.

On this page you will find lots of information helpful in the administration of your course on our virtual learning environment, MySUPA. We are always happy to receive feedback on the information on this page, if something is missing, or if you have a great tip you'd like to share with others, simply email (subject: Information%20for%20Lecturers%20webpage) .

You will also find valuable information in the SUPA Course Catalogue, including our policy on course assessment. 

  1. SUPA Course Planning & Timetabling
  2. Getting Started with MySUPA
  3. SUPA Video Conferencing
  4. Lecturing via VC - top tips
  5. Accessibility and Inclusion

1. SUPA Course Planning & Timetabling

There are a number of key points during the year for SUPA's planning of courses. While we will work with individual lecturers on their course, we will also work with university timetablers. If you would like to add a new course to the SUPA programme, please note that you should aim to discuss this with us in semester 2 of the preceeding academic year so there is sufficient time to confirm the course with the Graduate School Committee (GSC).

  • March: SUPA starts to contact lecturers regarding teaching for the following year.
  • March - May: Discuss any new course offerings with SUPA and the Theme Leader for your theme. The GSC will approve the course in advance of the summer.
  • June - August: SUPA contacts lecturers (primarily for Semester 1) to confirm course details for the next academic year.
  • September: SUPA works with university timetablers to complete the SUPA timetable (available on MySUPA).
  • September - October: Enrolment opens on MySUPA for Semester 1 courses.
  • November: SUPA contacts lecturers to confirm course details for Semester 2.
  • December: Enrolment opens on MySUPA for Semester 2 courses. 

At the end of each Semester, SUPA aims to request feedback from students on their experiences. If there is something in particular that you are looking for feedback on, such as a new method of teaching, type of assessment etc, please ask this directly as SUPA's feedback is generic across courses. 

2. Getting Started with MySUPA

My.SUPA is the online space for students and lecturers to manage all of their SUPA activities. We strongly encourage you to use My.SUPA as a teaching tool during your course, as this is SUPA’s most effective tool for communicating with students across all eight universities. If you do not yet have an account, you can easily and quickly sign-up for a new account.

All the courses you are involved with can be found in the Dashboard and in the left hand menu. 

2a. Your Course Area

(Content coming soon)

2b. Marking in MySUPA

While we work on bringing you this guide in video format, here is a guide to entering marks in MySUPA.

3. SUPA Video Conferencing

3a. Our VC rooms

In each of our university partners, there is a SUPA Video Conferencing room used for our lectures. You can also book the VC rooms for meetings or events beyond the usual courses timetable, as long as it is not in use. These VC rooms are connected to the timetable, and will automatically connect  the necessary rooms, based on where you and the enrolled students are based, at the start of the lectures. 

SUPA videoconferences usually begin at five minutes past the hour. As the bookings are made in advance, the videoconference call will be made automatically, so there is no need to dial in. There are slight differences in the videoconference systems and the layout of the videoconference rooms at each institution. (Please note: the system at UWS is different to another SUPA sites, we recommend that you talk to your local IT contact.)

There is a complete Getting Started guide to using our VC rooms over on MySUPA.

3b. Using VScene remotely

If you are unable to provide the lecture from the VC room, you can easily do this remotely. Information on joining from remote devices and sharing can be found in the Getting Started guide on MySUPA.

3c. Recording lectures

If you are using VScene for your lectures, they will automatically record. The SUPA office will receive the video file shortly after the lecture and will upload it to MySUPA. The videos are stored on the SUPA Google Drive, accessible by SUPA Central staff only. Once uploaded to MySUPA the videos are viewable only by those enrolled in the course page for that year, unless you re-use recorded lectures for another year's content. 

Many of our students attend the live lectures but use the recordings to help with assessments or to clarify learning. Many students use the recordings to catch up when lab work has clashed with the timetable.

All lecturers are required to comply with the laws on intellectual property. When a lecture is recorded, typically this includes both channels: the video channel (video and audio of you and the participants) along with anything you send on the data channel (e.g. slides). If your teaching materials contain components borrowed from other authors, these must be attributed clearly. It is very important that you avoid using teaching materials that are largely or completely derived from printed, electronic or online sources that are not your intellectual property.

4. Lecturing via VC - top tips

What follows are tips that we have collated for engaging, effective video conference lectures. If there is anything we have missed, please let us know!

Students attending a VC lecture may expect it to be a passive experience, partly because there are some parallels with watching TV. All the usual barriers to active participation in lectures also apply to VC lectures, and students may be further inhibited by the technology or because they cannot see all the other participants.

Levels of student engagement and interaction in lectures will increase if there is a strong sense of being present in the lecture; interactions are explicitly encouraged; and a protocol for interrupting the lecture is provided and practised.

4a. Getting Interaction

  • At the start of your course, talk to your students about the level of interaction and participation you expect.
  • Write some words of advice and encouragement at the top of your course area on MySUPA.
  • Print out the list of participants and address questions to students by name. Your students’ names and contact details can be found by clicking on ‘Participants’ on the top left hand side of your My.SUPA course area.

4b. Basics of Teaching via Videoconference

Camera view: Switch to the audience camera occasionally so that the students at the far ends get to see your local audience.

Practise interruptions: With your students, devise an ‘interruption protocol’ for your lectures. Encourage students to use a preamble so that their question or point is not lost as the VC equipment switches between sites.

Sit with your local audience: For the final ten minutes of your lecture, turn on the ceiling microphone, switch to the audience camera and join your local audience for question time.

Be heard: Remember where the microphones are. If you move about during your lectures, wear the lapel mic (provided), remember that if you turn your back on the lectern microphone you will come across quieter.

Pointers: Students have requested that when lecturers need to point at the screen, they do so using the mouse, so that all students regardless of location see it. If you are screen sharing, students in other VC rooms will not see what is being pointed at with the stick!

4c. Encouraging Student Engagement in VC Lectures

Interactive Slides: Insert a multiple-choice question into the middle of your slides.

Snowball: During the lecture, organise the students to think about an issue or question firstly by themselves and then locally in pairs, or even in fours if numbers allow, before contributing to a group discussion.

Discussion Time: Allow ten minutes at the end of each lecture for discussion/questions.

Question Time: End each lecture with ‘three questions to think about’ (...or one question or half a dozen). Revisit these questions in your introduction to the next lecture or invite written or verbal answers from the students.

4d. Using My.SUPA to Complement VC Lectures

Give advanced warning: Use your online area to give notice of the questions you are likely to raise in the lectures. This allows less confident and neurodivergent students to pre-prepare their answers.

Ask students to submit questions: Set up a wiki or shared document in which students can devise questions for you to use in lectures. This enables documents to be authored collectively.

Set up discussion forums for the main topics: You can add as many discussion forums as you wish to your My.SUPA area. Students can choose to receive the messages posted in the forums by email or, if they prefer, can read the discussions online. Discussion threads can be started by you or by the students themselves and, unlike private emails, will not be lost or deleted. Note that the editor for the discussion forums includes a LaTeX filter that renders mathematical expressions as graphics in html emails and online.

5. Accessibility and Inclusion

Inclusive practices in learning and teaching mean considering different learning styles, and embedding these throughout, rather than considering add-ons for anyone who doesn't learn as a 'typical' student. Using reasonable adjustments as special cases can reinforce the incorrect idea that there is a problem, and can single out learners, whereas using these methods for all improves learning for all. It is ok to try something and it not work and to try something else next time, the message you give to your students that you're willing to try will be incredibly valuable. 

What follows are concepts and ideas gained primarily from the 'Neurodiversity & Disability Equality Event' webinars provided by the University of Glasgow in 2021, as well as best practice and requirements from individual universities in the SUPA network. Please also check your own institution's policies and best practice guidance.

5a. Lectures

Consider having multiple means of:

  • Engagement (e.g. how students will engage with your content on MySUPA)
  • Representation (e.g. the people who you refer to)
  • Participation (i.e. not always group work, not always lone work)
  • Grasping a concept (e.g. try using it in different contexts, examples, drawing connections between them

Additionally, you should consider:

  • Breaking up walls of text or equations
  • Allowing incomplete thoughts, giving them time to work through the answer
  • Providing handouts in advance

If you are implementing these elements, let the students know.

5b. Materials 

The key considerations around written material (print or screen) include:

  • Use a font such as Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Helvetica or OpenDyslexic. Avoid using a serif font!
  • Use bold for highlighting, avoid using italics or underlines.
  • Use the Microsoft Accessibility Checker for Office documents. Find out more about the Microsoft Accessibility Checker, available for Windows, Mac and Web (but not iOS/Android).

For video and audio content, corrected captions and/or transcript must be available. If you've recorded your lecture in Zoom or Microsoft Stream, transcripts will be produced automatically but they should be checked for accuracy. You can also upload videos to Stream to generate subtitles, with the video being shared from Stream, or downloading the subtitle file to use on MySUPA.

5c. Reasonable Adjustments

If a student asks for reasonable adjustments, listen, empathise, respect their potentially long history of frustration and stigmatisation, accept them and their adjustments, and apply the adjustment. Consider proactively asking the students at the start of the semester if they need any adjustments, rather than waiting for any requests to come in.

If you need any support from SUPA with making adjustments, please contact