2020/21 academic year

As we approach the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year, we are conscious that many of our students, their families and their sponsors have questions about how we are planning for 2020/21 and the impact that COVID-19 may have on their course progression.

The health and well-being of all our staff and students, as well as that of patients in our hospitals, continues to be RCSI’s number one priority during the COVID-19 crisis. This primary concern is guiding all our decisions as we plan for the next academic year.

RCSI is striving to ensure continuity of engaged learning and academic standards in a safe environment whilst adhering to all public health advice. 

Whilst many decisions have yet to be made and some uncertainty remains, planning for the 2020/21 academic year is well underway. It is not in our mutual interest to defer course progression and therefore, the term will commence on time through a blended, digitally-engaged learning model. Our academic leads are working on flexible and adaptable options for our curriculum and assessment methods to ensure they remain responsive to any future scenario.

RCSI is planning to have the campus prepared to welcome our students during September and October. The start of the academic term will vary by course and programme year.

Commencement dates are available on your student engagement Moodle page. We are working hard to provide a complete list of semester dates for each programme and those that have been fully approved can be found here.

Lectures will be delivered using a blended, digitally engaged learning approach. The use of Blackboard and Moodle will continue alongside socially distant class and small group teaching on campus. Further information will follow from your year lead during summer communications. 

The requirement for effective social distancing will mean that we will need to bring students back to campus in stages. Start dates for your programme are available here.

As well as social distancing, we will be ramping up other health and hygiene measures across the campus, in accommodation and leisure spaces. This will include increased building cleaning and inspection checks, providing hand sanitisers, washing facilities, testing and tracing and PPE provision.

Dedicated teams of staff have been working on these plans and, again, we will be communicating more details of these preparations to both staff and students over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, there is no certainty on how the phased lifting of the lockdown will affect the situation in Ireland. What we can be certain about, however, is that RCSI will endeavour to develop plans to ensure that our students receive the best possible academic programme that can be delivered during this challenging period and that we will keep you informed with regular planning updates in the weeks ahead.


Clinical case-based teaching will continue in our clinical and simulated teaching facilities and online. Access to clinical sites will be coordinated at Year level as appropriate and will comply with best practice protocols as advised on each site.

Our clinical teaching experts will ensure that all students are exposed to sufficient clinical knowledge and skills to meet the required learning outcomes. Our objective is to progress or graduate safe, competent practitioners while adhering to current COVID-19 guidelines and prioritising patient, student and staff safety.

Students who will be attending clinical placements at RCSI Hospitals will be asked to agree to be screened for COVID-19 before starting their placement.

We have been working hard to ensure RCSI campuses are ready to welcome you back for the academic session 2020-21. We want to provide you with an authentic university and campus experience, complete with the important student-staff and student-student interactions that you have come to expect and enjoy.

The health and well-being of all our staff and students, as well as that of patients, continues to be RCSI’s number one priority, and within this context, we will deliver as much face-to-face teaching as possible.

We strongly believe that interactive teaching is essential for students who will be preparing for careers as healthcare professionals, which is why we are developing a student-centred approach that is engaging and case-based.

There will still be sessions that will be delivered digitally, including the live-streaming of some lectures, which students should plan to attend virtually and synchronously. However, there will be a shift to small group teaching, and all CPCs, CMCs, tutorials, practical skills and clinical skills will be done face-to-face. We have taken an additional, high-quality space in north Dublin to utilise all the space available and to ensure you get as much time on an expanded 'campus' as is feasible.

With the new health and safety protocols in place, all students must also attend an in-person induction so that they can familiarise themselves with the new social distancing and hygiene measures required to ensure their own safety and that of the RCSI community.

We are confident that you will have a memorable and meaningful student experience, even within the context of the challenges we are all facing due to COVID-19. The situation continues to evolve, with many positive developments happening on a week-by-week basis. Being here, with us in Dublin, means you are best placed to be part of the RCSI community and we believe the continuity and quality of your learning can be best achieved by your presence in Dublin.