Undergraduate Teaching 2019-20

What to do if things go wrong

What to do if things go wrong

Not logged in. More information may be available... Login via Raven / direct.

PDF versionPDF version

If you are in crisis

If you are in crisis please contact your Tutor or College nurse immediately.  They can refer you to one of the University's Mental Health Advisors (students in crisis are normally seen the next working day).  If for some reason you want to speak to someone outside your College (and/or outside normal working hours) there are plenty of places where you can find support - the Students' Union's Advice Service has a list of listening and phone services.


We hope that your time in the Department goes smoothly, but there may be occasions when you need additional support.  We've listed some challenges below which could arise during your time here, together with our recommendations for what to do. They are grouped as follows:

  • academic (workload, disabilities which affect your ability to study, rearranging coursework and/or applying for allowances, problems with specific modules or staff)
  • health & wellbeing (physical illness and injury, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks)
  • dignity@study (bullying & harassment, cultural differences)
  • practical (lost University card or databook)

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.  There is far more detailed information about welfare and wellbeing available on the University's webpages.  If your concern is not listed below please contact us or one of the sources of help listed below.

Sources of help and formal procedures

Main sources of help

Remember that there are plenty of people to talk to in Cambridge who can offer help and support:

  • your College is particularly well geared up to support you as you will have a dedicated Tutor and Director of Studies as well as access to a College nurse and chaplain, plus a JCR/MCR Welfare Officer or equivalent;
  • within the Department you can come to the Teaching Office or speak to any staff member who you feel comfortable with;
  • the University's Counselling Service and Disability Resource Centre offer specialist advice and support;
  • the Students' Union's Advice Centre offers free, confidential and impartial support on personal and/or academic matters to all Cambridge University students.

Complaint and appeal procedures

​Student Complaints Procedure

​Where a student is dissatisfied with any provision, action or inaction by the University students are able to raise a complaint.  Students are expected to initially raise a complaint with a suitable member of staff within the Department, in the first instance this is the Director of Undergraduate Education.  However, where the matter is serious or where students remain dissatisfied, a complaint can be raised with the central University.  Complaints need to be raised in a timely way and within 28 days to ensure an effective remedy can be put in place. Find further information here: www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/student-complaints​.

Examination Review Procedure

​Where a student is dissatisfied with examination results, the Examination Review Procedure can be initiated within 28 days of formal notification of the results.  Find further information here: www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/examination-reviews.​​

​Student and staff behaviour

​Where a student is dissatisfied with the behaviour of another student or a staff member because it amounts to harassment or sexual misconduct then the student can raise this with the University, so that action can be taken.  Find further information here: www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporting.



What to do

I am finding it difficult to cope with my workload and to prioritise work

You are not alone in finding workload challenging - the Tripos is a big step up from A-levels and there is a lot of material to get though.  Talk to your Director of Studies in the first instance - they can help you to prioritise.

The Counselling Service has some useful leaflets on concentration, procrastination and perfectionism which might help you to work more efficiently.

I have a long term disability* which affects my ability to study and/or to get around the Department

(NB this could include mental health conditions, specific learning difficulties and long-term health conditions such as diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome)

You can disclose your disability at any time during your studies here (if you have not already done so on your UCAS form). We encourage you to disclose your disability as early as possible so that we can make any reasonable adjustments and put measures in place to support you.  You can contact the DRC for a confidential chat about disclosing a disability and see the DRC's website for further information.

Once you have disclosed a disability the Teaching Office will receive and act upon your student support document.

I need to take compassionate leave during term to attend a funeral

Try to rearrange your coursework in advance.  If this is not possible see your Tutor to ask them to support an application for a coursework allowance.

My coursework is scheduled on the day of a religious festival which I observe

Try to rearrange your coursework in advance.  If this is not possible see your Tutor to ask them to support an application for a coursework allowance.

I have a conflict between coursework activities and an interview

Try to rearrange the interview.  If this proves impossible see the lab leader to try to rearrange the coursework.  Allowances are not normally given for coursework missed through interviews.

I have a conflict between coursework activities and a sporting commitment

If the conflict is with a University sporting competition see the lab leader to try to rearrange the coursework.  Coursework cannot be rearranged to accommodate College sporting commitments or University training sessions.

I am really unhappy about the pace or style of one of my courses/labs

You can report any concerns (anonymously if you wish) via Fast Feedback.  Your comments will go straight to the Director of Undergraduate Education who will ensure that they are followed up with the staff members(s) concerned.

I am really unhappy about one of my supervisors/supervision partners

Please speak to your Director of Studies as soon as possible so that they can take appropriate action.  If you are in Part IIA report your concerns to the Teaching Office.

Health and wellbeing

The actions listed below should be followed in the first instance.  You should also use the allowance form if appropriate.  The allowance form can be used for any illness, mental health problem, physical injury or other grave cause which, in the opinion of both the student's tutor and the Director of Undergraduate Education, prevents the student from completing their scheduled coursework activities on time, or in some cases at all.


What to do

I feel anxious and panicky

The University’s Counselling Service has a helpful leaflet on understanding and managing anxiety and panic attacks which gives advice on when and how to seek help.

I feel depressed

The University’s Counselling Service has a collection of useful resources online, together with leaflets on recognising and managing depression and loneliness. Both leaflets give advice on when and how to seek help. 

I am really stressed and finding it hard to relax

There's a selection of helpful resources listed on the Counselling Service's website.  The University also offers free mindfulness classes to all Cambridge University students to support their wellbeing and ability to study.  For further information see Mindfulness at Cam.

I am having difficulties with another mental health problem

If you are suffering from another mental health problem please seek help as soon as possible.  You could talk to your College Tutor or nurse in the first instance or see the Counselling Service's website which has information covering other mental health illnesses  (e.g. addictions, disordered eating and body image, self-harm, self esteem).

I’ve broken my leg (or suffered another temporary disability)

If you suffer an injury which might affect your studies (or ability to access Department facilities) please inform your College & Teaching Office asap.  You should also speak to the Department's Safety Officer, to arrange an access plan.

I’ve got flu (or another illness)

If you are unwell you are not expected to attend lectures and other scheduled classes. For minor illnesses let your Tutor know. You can also contact your College nurse for support. For acute or longer-lasting illnesses see your GP as well as informing your Tutor.

I am concerned about the wellbeing of another student

If you feel that the student is in danger report your concerns immediately to any staff member you feel able to talk to (e.g. your Director of Studies, Tutor or the Director of Undergraduate Education). Otherwise, encourage the student to see their Director of Studies or Tutor as soon as possible.




What to do

Another student or member of staff has made inappropriate comments

You can report any concerns (anonymously if you wish) via Fast Feedback.  Your comments will go straight to the Director of Undergraduate Education who will ensure that they are handled sensitively with the students and/or staff concerned.

I feel that I am being bullied and/or harassed by another student or member of staff

There is no place for any form of harassment, hate crime or sexual misconduct at Cambridge.  Please speak to either your Tutor, Director of Studies or the Director of Undergraduate Education about your concerns as soon as possible. Also see the University's guidance on reporting harrassment , bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct.

The academic and social conventions at Cambridge are very different to those that I'm used to

The Department of Engineering is a very multi-cultural community so staff are used to teaching and supporting students from different cultures.  If you are confused or uncertain about any aspect of academic or social conventions in use at Cambridge speak to your Director of Studies or a supervisor.



What to do

I’ve lost my University card

Report the loss immediately to the Security Office (or email security-admin@eng.cam.ac.uk), and order a replacement through your College.

I’ve lost a databook

Replacements can be bought from the Teaching Office.


Last updated on 02/10/2019 17:16