Be part of a community 

We know that studying for a postgraduate degree is a big commitment. However, as one of our students, you won’t need to take it on alone. 

From the moment you start researching courses, to even beyond graduation, we’ll be with you to make sure your experience is as smooth and rewarding as possible. 

Watch our on-demand video Q&A with our adviser team and a current student to find out more about how you'll be supported on your online learning journey.


Virtual Q&A on student support

Maddie [00:00:01] My name is Maddie, I'm the senior course adviser at the University of Portsmouth. And then I'm joined by Sofia, who is one of our student advisors. And then we'll have Sonny and James along in just a little bit. So Sofia, if you wouldn't mind just telling us a little bit about your role and your background at the university?  

Sofia [00:00:21] Hello, my name is Sofia I'm one of the senior advisors at the university, we're basically a signposting team and support team for non-academic [inaudible]. So we act as the middle team for all other teams to help students get signposted correctly, if they have any issues or concerns, or if they need any help from the point of entry, but also during the two years of their studies. We are their team to go to. My background is in mental health and support in universities, and we are now a team of three and a half people. And we're all ladies. Yeah, that's what we do more or less, and that's what I do as well.  

Maddie [00:01:12] Brilliant. Yes, so different to Sofia, my job as a student recruitment consultant or a course adviser, you might hear us call ourselves, is to help you from when you first start looking at the university right through to when we pass you off to Sophia's team. We have a lot of teams of support in the university, so there is an academic skills team which helps the students that haven't been to academia in a long time or been at all to sort of try help expand your academic skills. The library team that has specific sections just for distance learners.  

Sofia [00:01:59] There's a wellbeing team that is free of charge and supports students with their wellbeing and mental health. There is a team that helps with different events. There is a team that we are asked quite a lot lately about, which is the careers team, and it can help you sort of tailor your CV, look at different events that they organise and they do recruitment events as well. There are so many different teams. Recently, we learnt that there is a team that offers free languages as well to students, so you can do your course and also a language at the same time. So there are many, many teams, it's just up to the student, what they want to interact with. There is the ASDAC team, which is for students with disabilities that helps students accommodate their needs. So yeah, there's a lot of support available and we encourage all the students from the point of registration to reach out and take advantage of all the great things that the university has to offer. Brilliant. Thank you so much. And we've just had James join us, who is one of our current students. You're very busy this evening, James, I know. So thank you so much for finding time to fit in talking to us. 

James [00:03:25] Thats ok, no worries. 

Maddie [00:03:28] Yeah. So if you wouldn't mind just telling us a bit about yourself, your background, how you came to Portsmouth, all of that good stuff.  

James [00:03:35] Ok, so I'm from Portsmouth, I was part of a pre apprenticeship programme with VT training around 12 years ago, 13 years ago now. I got myself an apprenticeship with BAE systems in the dockyard, where I learnt my trade as a welder and subsequently from that, I then went onto production planning, which is a job revolving around working out specifics for set jobs with materials and time management, etc. And then I saw a course online on the Portsmouth University website that was something that I was looking at doing myself, which is progressing into Project Management and so i just applied on the off chance that I might get seen. And fortunately for me, I did so that's where I am now and I'm almost a full year and still enjoying it. And yeah, it's great at the moment, really good.  

Sofia [00:04:38] So I think it's important to have some basic I.T. skills, access to a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, a stable Wi-Fi connection that you can go to the Virtual Learning Environment and interact with the different things. And we also encourage students if they haven't been to academia or they have been and it has been quite a long time to start preparing a bit early and accessing the different resources that your course advisors will give to you. And on the point of entry, we ask students to download the different applications like Microsoft Office, which is free from the university, that is needed for the different courses. And we also ask students to reach out to the academic skills team in case they think that, oh, I'm not sure about academic writing, its a bit scary i don't know about referencing. So this is something that we encourage students to do. So these are more or less the skills and then you can expand on anything, really.  

James [00:05:49] I'm currently working on a project at work, which has allowed me to use the skills that ive used with the Project Management course so far with regards to Microsoft Project, I'm doing Gantt charts all the kind of techniques and tools that I've learnt through the first year of the course and im benefiting at work now because I'm being given more opportunities by different departments to come and do some work for them as part of a learning experience, as well as my own personal gain, which is for my degree. So it is very helpful within my work at the moment.  

Sofia [00:06:29] Yeah, and do you think that's something that you would have been able to do if you'd gone through a more traditional sort of, either a university course or like an NVQ. I know those are something that people I speak to who are looking at construction management are often studying as well.  

James [00:06:49] I think it probably would have took me longer to be more confident. But one of the main things with the course is that I came into it very green and I had no experience. And I was quite apprehensive about the course itself and starting. But from the first week or two that all disappeared and I'm lucky, the group I've got everyone's out to help each other within the group. And I'm sure that will be the same with the next intake. You can lean on each other and read the comments that are put through on the weekly tasks. It might seem mundane, but they're actually really helpful. But I definitely wouldn't have had the confidence this early on to do what I'm doing now and probably what it took me a longer time to get where I am now.  

Sofia [00:07:37] Yeah, so it sounds like even though it's a distance learning course, you still interact with the other students and see the benefit of studying with people in different areas of the industry and things like that. 

James [00:07:55] Yeah, I can sort of have adult conversations, so to speak now, where I actually understand things that are being said at work. Obviously in the dock yard, the industry is very driven by management. So I can now involve myself more in those discussions and try and push within my role at BAE. So there was a guy called Nigel, who was part of the first block of my degree. And he openly says to you, If you need me, we can set up a one on one webcam like we're doing now. He went through, we had an hours session together. He answered all the questions that I had at that time, gave me some advice, made me feel comfortable. They also send you messages via the Moodle app, which obviously is run by the university, which is very handy because everyone's in the same place, its all there for you to see laid out easy, accessible. So really, the one thing I could say is it depends, what you put in, is what you get out. So if you're not putting in the hours and the time to learn and to push yourself to learn more, you're going to end up with not very good grades or maybe mediocre grades. But if you put the time and effort in and ask millions of questions, no one's going to stop you from helping yourself. You know, they love the questions and just keep them coming. That's all I can really say on that.  

Sofia [00:09:31] Yeah, absolutely. And I know we've got quite a few students who, like you James, haven't studied at university previously. Those interactions with other students, do you find that they're helping you and pushing you in your academic work as well?  

James [00:09:50] Yeah, I think it's a bit of both. So what's interesting is one of the guys who I'm on the course with is basically a project manager and he's doing the degree to get the qualifications. He's been in the business for, I think, he said the other day, 25 years. So he puts across his opinions and then people like me who've got no experience in the trade. But I've been a tradesman and I work in a different industry with different things going on. We sort of have a back and forth of each other and then ends up with both encouraging each other to do things a little bit differently and share in each other's experiences, which is very handy to learn. So not only do I learn from those people, but they probably learn a bit back from me as well.  

[00:10:42] When it comes to the assignment side of things, so I've got an assignment that's due on Friday, next week, and I'd just say to people, don't leave it to the last minute when it comes to the assignments because the amount of stress involved in leaving things to the last minute is absolutely horrendous, especially if you've got some things going on. Just try and do, even if it's two hours a night, just try and do a little bit to help yourselves out in the long run because I did it the first time and I made a mistake the first time, and I'm not doing that again. So just don't leave the assignments to the last, last minute.  

[00:11:29] Well, I wasn't given the opportunity at my work to progress in my career, so I just decided to just look myself and I just thought, well. If it's not going to be offered, then I should just go out and try and find it. And I wasn't going to look anywhere else because I'm local. So obviously Portsmouth University, it was the first place I came to and I spoke to a guy who I sent off an application online with a CV and I had a phone call I think two days later from, I can't remember the guy's name, sorry.  

[00:12:09] Jack.  

[00:12:09] That's it, Jack. And he called me and he just said to me, basically, although you don't seem to have the academic qualifications, you've got the experience in the job role that you've got on your trade background. And he said that you're the type of person that could help other people on the course, and we looked at different backgrounds and different opinions and and basically he just said to me, you know, I'll speak to you in a few days time and that's what happened. I had been offered a place on the course, so I was one of the lucky ones, really. So that's why I feel like I have to do the best I can, because I do feel like I was lucky enough to get on the course. 

Sofia [00:12:48] Yeah, so it sounds like you had quite a smooth application process, were there any points where you were unsure about anything or you had to ask?  

James [00:12:58] No, not at all. I was just shocked, to be honest with you. I didn't have any complaints about any of it. It's probably the smoothest thing I've ever been through, and I've been through loads of jobs and all sorts of stuff so. 

Sofia [00:13:10] Brilliant. No, that's great to hear, and yeah, I was saying to Jack this morning that you were coming on this evening, and he was really thrilled to hear that you were doing well. And, yeah, basically, Jack essentially does the same job as me, so if you were in James's shoes and I know we've had a question from Simon who's currently watching, who's not done a university application in a long time. So for anyone like Simon, who doesn't know what's involved, isn't sure what kind of personal statement or you can't find your documents or anything like that, you'll be assigned if you haven't been already a 'Jack' or a 'Me' or a 'Joe' or any other course adviser who will be your, essentially, point of contact. So like how James got the phone call saying that we'd received his application, you'll probably get a phone call from one of us saying, 'Hi there, i saw you had some questions, what can I help you with?'. So if it's not quite as smooth as James found it, then you've got plenty of support as well.  

James [00:14:18] So somebody has mentioned how much time will be required a day. I think it was 25 hours a week recommended, 25 to 30 hours a week. I probably managed to get two and a half hours a day. I work a 37.5 hour week, Monday to Friday, Saturday mornings I work overtime, so I work a 45 hour week and i have my children four out of the seven days, so the days that i don't have the children, in the evenings after work i work longer than the two hours, two and a half hours. But the days I do have my children, it's two and a half hours, minimum a night. But that's mainly reading, going through the weekly module, listening to the weekly lectures, and then ended up the most amount of time on the assignment. It will become clear for people when they are on the course. It sounds like a lot, and it sounds like, how on earth does he get that time to do that with all of that going on. But when you realise that the lectures are 15-20 minutes, 30 minutes a time. It's very easy to find 30 minutes to put your headphones in on your phone. Everything's accessible on phone, laptop, desktop. I mean, you can take it anywhere. The Moodle app is great, I use that a lot. It works perfectly on my phone, which is an iPhone. So anyone who's got an iPhone, I'm sure the same is on Androids as well. Just use the half an hour when you can, listen to the lectures, read the comments. You can do it when you're walking the dog, sat outside of school, whilst you're at football training, anything like that. You do find the time to do it, I'm sat outside of school now. I mean, don't get too worried about time. You will find the time, you will definitely find the time. If you're already in this call now, you're already wanting to do the courses that you're looking for. So if you're already committed to being in the call, you ain't gonna have any problems going forward, as far as I'm concerned.  

Sofia [00:16:32] So I have a million tabs, please ignore the million tabs. You will have three when you come in to the university. Basically, this is where everything is conducted through Moodle. Someone asked about interacting with your lectures and interacting with other people. You can do that through the chat function. You can do that through emails. But there is a direct chat function here that people use quite a lot. Also, someone asked, i think i saw in the chat, about library resources and training materials.  

[00:17:13] When you come in, when you register, we offer people a Moodle walk through which means that we book an hour with students and show them around Moodle, what they can do, what they cannot do, what they have available to them. There are also a lot of resources and training modules on Moodle, from small things like to this page to whole modules that help you expand on your IT skills or your technical skills. We show you how to access different things, but you also have all the links and all the resources about general things in Moodle. So other than your content, you also have the Student Hub where everything is, from 'what happens if I can't submit it on time' to, 'oh I'm not sure about the IT skills', 'what kind of browser do I use', 'would it be compatible'. So you have all the information you need there and then some.  

[00:18:19] We've got a resource that, I'm sure, Sofia, you can talk about a little bit more, called 'Get Set for Study', which is specifically designed to get you up and running with all of the skills you'll need to be really successful in your online master's degree. Have you had many students use it, Sofia? Because I know it launched at the end of last year.  

Sofia [00:18:43] Have a lot of students used get set for study? Its a great resource, basically. So if you haven't been in academia in a long time or you haven't been at all, sometimes the system, the academic system is a little bit difficult to navigate and not always very clear, the 'Get Set for Study' is very clear. It shows you the different things, the different marketing criteria, the skills that you need to have, to study, and it also shows you what it means to be studying on a level seven, master's level. Do you need to be independent? You need to be proactive. And it shows you different skills and where your gaps lie, so if you identify a gap and think maybe this is not the best, maybe I need some help there. Then you can be directed to the right service and then you can expand, or you can sort of acquire that skill over time, but its a great resource. And I would suggest for everyone to take a look at it. And if you have any questions to ask your course advisor or even us, it's really good and it outlines the level seven system of studying quite well, I would say.  

[00:20:07] Yeah, definitely. I know when I did my master's degree, like the first couple of weeks, so many things, I had no clue I even needed to know.  

[00:20:17] And the 'Get Set for Study' really shows exactly what you need, and it's like what James was saying and you said as well, just then, like the independence and the ability to knuckle down and prioritise what you need to get done. We had a question a little while ago from Hugo. There is a level of sacrifice involved in studying a level seven master's degree. So the best students, not in terms of grades but in terms of what they get out of the experience, are the ones that are involved and dedicated and they know that this is what they want to do. But at the same time, we all know that they have busy lives to lead.  

[00:21:03] So we try as much as we can to direct them appropriately, but also to encourage them to look for different things from themselves. So I think the most successful students are the ones that are proactive, independent and they make use of the services available to them because they are many and they're quite effective at what they do, especially the academic skills team, the library teams.  

[00:21:31] There's so many different things you can have that you might not realise when you first enter university and then as time goes on you think, 'Oh there is this team at university that does academic tailoring for CV's' or 'I can publish this paper, and maybe that will attract more job opportunities'. So you get a lot of opportunities just by engaging. Thank you so much, Sofia, for coming along this evening. And yeah, thanks to James as well. I really appreciate that he managed to fit in time for us. But yeah, have a good evening, everyone, and we'll get in touch soon. 

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Once you start your course, you'll be supported by the student adviser team. They’re available on the phone or via email to answer your non-academic queries about studying online. They can also give you tips on managing your work/study/life balance, and can direct you to University support services.

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