Freshers survival guide: Everything you need to know about studying at The University of Sheffield

September is the month when Sheffield traditionally comes back to life as thousands of university students arrive to begin or resume their courses.

By Richard Blackledge
Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 1:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 1:58 pm

While undergraduates and postgraduates will still be heading to the city for the 2020/21 academic year, things will be a little different this autumn as the pandemic means changes have had to be made to life on campus. Here’s everything freshers with a place at The University of Sheffield need to know about where they’ll be studying.

What is The University of Sheffield's track record for teaching and research?

Sheffield University, headquartered on Western Bank at the grand, castle-like Firth Court building, can trace its history back to 1828 when the Sheffield Medical School was founded. Led by vice-chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts, it is a prestigious ‘red brick’ institution with – before Covid struck, at least – more than 29,000 students, nearly 7,000 members of staff and an annual turnover in excess of £575 million. It is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities and is particularly highly regarded for its work in medicine and engineering. In 2019 Sheffield was the UK university with the highest research income in engineering.

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The University of Sheffield attracts thousands of students to the city each year. Picture: Pixabay.

Where will I be staying?

The vast majority of freshers live at accommodation complexes owned and managed by Sheffield University. The biggest are the Endcliffe and Ranmoor student villages, where residents live in blocks named after places in the Peak District – Curbar, Stanage, Kinder and so on. There are en-suite flats, studios and even houses where couples and families can stay. It is worth emphasising that the student villages are in one of Sheffield’s leafiest, safest and most comfortable suburban areas. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the main university campus on foot from Endcliffe, and slightly longer from Ranmoor – all brilliant exercise, of course, and the return journey offers a small taster of Sheffield's famously hilly topography. Alternatively student bus journeys cost only £1. In 2020 the moving in period will happen between September 17 and 20; each flat with university accommodation blocks will count as a ‘household’ under government guidelines, meaning social distancing and face coverings aren’t required inside student homes.

How will my course work?

Sheffield University says it is ‘working hard to prepare a Covid-secure campus in readiness for the new academic year on September 28 for undergraduate studies, and on October 26 for most campus-based postgraduate courses’. Students will be taught through a mix of face-to-face and digital sessions – laboratories, studios, clinical spaces and practical areas will be open with social distancing measures in place. Teaching days have been temporarily extended in the autumn semester, and preparations are being made for the safe reopening of the library buildings.

The University of Sheffield's Firth Court building. Picture: Pixabay.

When is freshers’ week?

Orientation week – designed to give students a head start on settling in to life in Sheffield – starts on September 14 for undergraduates and will largely be online-only this year. Then ‘intro week’ commences on September 21, featuring a series of registration events; this is when students receive their all-important UCard, giving access to all university facilities, including the library, computers and internet. There is an official Facebook page where students can meet each other virtually here.

What’s happening at the students’ union?

Sheffield University’s Students’ Union will be running virtual activities and sports fairs throughout the first few weeks of term, providing opportunities to join more than 350 societies and 57 sports groups. Club nights and live music are ‘poised to return as soon as national guidelines allow’ and bars in the students’ union will be open, including Bar One, Interval and Coffee Revolution. Information on advice and support about health and wellbeing issues, finances and housing is available here.

The University of Sheffield is part of the Russell Group of research-intensive institutions. Picture: Pixabay.

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The University of Sheffield Students' Union on Western Bank. Picture: Dean Atkins.