2022-23 Teaching Planning Principles Supporting FAQs

FAQ 1: What is the rationale behind the decision to apply an 80% capacity limit in lecture theatres?

The 80% capacity limit on fixed-seat lecture theatres is considered to be a reasonable public health measure to allow for some additional circulation space. Although this reduced capacity is not mandated, it is thought to be a helpful measure in easing a transition for students and staff into larger class settings and allows some opportunity for vulnerable students to maintain distance from others. There is no requirement to actively manage this but students can spread out from others a little at their own discretion.  

Attached is an overview of the large teaching spaces pre and post-pandemic

FAQ 2: Where the 80% capacity limit in lecture theatres prevents the full cohort/class coming together, what are the options available?

The 80% applies only to fixed-seat lecture theatres and not to all spaces.  In every year, CTT try to find the best fit between class size and room.  This will still be the case.  As such, the first step is to speak to CTT about the likely class size and see what accommodation is available.  We do not anticipate the 80% limit being the main reason for a class not finding space that would suit.  There may need to be some movement in the timetable slot to find appropriate space (an option explored every year) or perhaps use of a different space to that typically used by the School/Subject.  We would wish to avoid use of linked lecture theatres given poor student feedback on that experience in the past.  There may be options to split the group differently (e.g. meet for a longer time with half the cohort in alternate weeks).  Double teaching may be required due to overall class size but that would not likely be a function of the availability of seats in fixed-seat lecture theatres.

Recommended Approach: Blended, support available via CTT & ADD

Overview: Course content is delivered through a blend of online and on campus learning as part of an active learning model. The content delivery element being delivered online with on campus time being spent engaging with or applying that content through active sessions. These sessions could be delivered at scale (e.g. up to 250 people) in settings which allow for small group interactions. Adjusting the duration of such sessions (e.g. to the equivalent of 1 lecture plus 1 seminar slot) may allow for more in-depth engagement with the content.


  • Consistency of experience for students
  • Embeds active learning approaches
  • Opportunity to engage more deeply with content, developing higher-level skills
  • Reduces the likelihood of doubling workload
  • Direct support from CTT and ADD available
  • Students are likely to have more on campus teaching than in the current year


  • Requires careful reworking of the timetable to avoid compromising student choice
  • Workload implications associated with re-development of materials
  • May require development of additional learning materials, e.g. for the new on campus activities
  • Amount of on campus teaching may still be less than students expect – this would need to be carefully communicated and be a function of clear learning design and education approach, not principally a pragmatic response to room availability

FAQ 3: What are the implications of the 'collaborative learning norms' referred to the in Principles, what does this mean for room capacity?

  • As per the University’s Design Standards for learning space:

    “Sizing of active learning spaces will be based on a 2-3m² per person basis, dependent on anticipated furniture layouts and mode of learning”

    This is in line with best practice across the sector for active learning spaces.

    All new and recently refurbished teaching spaces have applied this norm when determining the capacity of the room. In addition, all centrally-managed flat-floored teaching spaces have had their capacity revised in line with this standard thus providing a more comfortable learning environment for staff and students, allowing for ease of interaction between students and staff as well as between students, and enables the space to be used for active learning. This aligns directly with the Design Principles for Teaching Spaces which the University has adopted.

    In many cases this has resulted in a reduction of capacity in individual rooms. For example, a room which was previously used for groups of 30 may now only accommodate 24; a room previously for 12 may now take either 8 or 10, depending on the specific configuration and equipment.