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Back to Uni tutors' guide

A guide for tutors of the online course for returning and master's student, 'return to uni'

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This autumn term, to help our students prepare for their return to university study and adapt to our blended learning approach, we have created Back to Uni: Your Essential Guide to Flexible and Online Study – a free online course tailored exclusively for returning UG and PG students and new PG students.

Please do not send students directly to this guide. This guide is for staff only to inform you about the rationale, content, format and delivery of the course.

What is Back to Uni: Your Essential Guide to Flexible and Online Study?

Back to Uni is a private online course for University of Reading students and hosted on the FutureLearn platform.

The content has been developed by the Study Advice team, in collaboration with colleagues from Centre for Quality Support and Development, drawing on their experience and expertise in working with students across all disciplines and supporting colleagues in the delivery of online teaching, learning, assessment and feedback practice. This includes the University's Online Courses team, building on their successful track record of creating two previous internal online courses (Study Smart and Career Smart) as well as high-quality and engaging open online courses that have reached over 1.25million enrolments around the world.  

The course will provide vital information on how students will be studying this term, including advice on how to make the most of face-to-face interactive sessions and online core content, as well as developing their study skills to adapt to learning online. Students will:  


  • Explore the different approaches for flexible learning this autumn term 
  • Familiarise themselves with the digital tools and technologies they’ll be using  
  • Develop their digital communication skills 
  • Enhance their study skills for online learning and improve their chances of success 
  • Develop strategies to manage their time and space effectively  
  • Develop their research skills 
  • Identify what help is available and where to go if they need further support 

The above topics will be conveyed through a series of ‘Steps’ including brief articles, videos, quizzes and discussions with other students. These discussions will be an early opportunity for students to get into the practise of communicating online in a supportive environment, so they feel more ready to participate in interactive sessions. The discussions will be monitored by Study Advisers and the Online Courses Team.

Students will be invited to join the course with an email link sent to their Reading email.  The course is designed to be completed in a few short sessions (approx. 4 hours of total study) at a time to suit the participant. The whole course will be released at once so students can choose to complete it all on the same day if they wish. 

The Online Courses and Study Advice teams will track enrolment and completion rates. Tutors will not be asked to undertake any monitoring, but we hope that you remind students that the course is available in your interactive sessions, online course content and one-to-one meetings.

Who is it aimed at and who is eligible?

Back to Uni: Your Essential Guide to Flexible and Online Study has been designed to prepare students with higher education experience to adapt to and make the most of the blended learning approach in Autumn term. Consequently, the course has been tailored (and will be limited to) returning UG and PG students and new PG students to develop their study skills for learning online. The course will also include useful guidance on building research and critical thinking skills appropriate for these students.

Incoming UG and Foundation students will have access to Study Smart: Your Essential Guide for University which is now in its fourth iteration. This course supports these students in the transition to higher education and the UoR community and has been adapted to reflect the blended ways students will be studying this autumn. It will open to incoming students on 3 September. 

You can find out more in the Study Smart lib guide

If you teach students outside of these groups and feel that they might benefit from these materials, please contact the Study Advice team. We are happy to consult on the suitability and use of Back to Uni materials outside of the course, but cannot enrol students outside of the stated eligibility.

Why has it been introduced?

The course will provide a voice of reassurance for students and help reinforce the key message that their studies will not be negatively affected but enhanced with the blended approach UoR have taken. Students will also need to gain a firm understanding of how the delivery of teaching will differ, the digital tools and technologies that will be used in teaching and learning, and where they can go for support. 

How will it be released to students?

There is a planned programme of communications to students about Back to Uni which is managed by the Student Success and Engagement team.

The course will have a staggered release according to each group based on when they receive their UoR email addresses:

21 September - Returning UG & PG students

29 September -  UoR new PG students

12 October - HBS new PG students


On these dates, students will receive information about the course and a link to the FutureLearn platform so they can register and get started.

Students will be contacted directly on these dates to invite them to enrol on the course. Please note that students should not be given links to this guide, or to enrolment information. If you are informed by a student that they have not had an invitation to enrol, please forward their details to  

The expectation that students will engage with, and complete, the course will continue to be emphasised during the Autumn term.

Enrolment will remain open until the end of January 2021. Students who have enrolled will retain full access to the course for the whole of their time at UoR. However, we cannot enrol students after enrolment closes. If it is necessary for your students to enrol (e.g. to be able to download the completion certificate for portfolios), please be clear in your messaging that it is essential for them to enrol in a timely fashion. 

How can I view it?

The course structure will be available to view on the content tab soon.

Staff can also view the course as a guest, once it has been launched. Guest access will not allow editing or commenting, but will give you the opportunity to view the content in the same format that students are accessing it. If you would like to enrol as a guest, please email  from your university email address. We will keep a record of those interested and send an invite when the course is available.

Please contact Study Advice if you have further queries about the course content. Contact details are located on the left-hand side of this page.