UG Handbook - Communicating with you

There are several different channels through which you will communicate with the department. Choosing the right channel and using it appropriately gets your message across clearly, and just as importantly ensures that you receive the information you need in a timely way.


Our main point of contact with you is through your University of York email address, so you must check this account regularly. Each Friday you will receive a email from the Year Tutor containing lots of useful information on upcoming events and deadlines, and things that you generally need to know at each time point during the term.

Email code and tips

  • You should check your email regularly for urgent and important information about your course. Please do not ignore official emails as they often contain critical information about teaching and assessment. 
  • You should not send email to departmental mailing lists set up for students. This unfortunately has led to a growing volume of unsolicited mail in which important messages may be lost or overlooked.
  • Always use your University email account when communicating with staff. This can help us connect your name to other data which may be relevant to your enquiry (such as marks in the e:vision system) and using a consistent address it makes it much easier to find your emails when looking back over an interchange. Messages from unofficial email addresses such as "" are easy to overlook and hard to connect with a particular student.
  • Always make your full name clear when communicating with staff. There are around 250 students in each year group, so it is easy to confuse messages from people with similar first names. It can also be helpful to remind your lecturer which year/module you are contacting them about, if applicable. 
  • It is advisable not to become reliant on alternative messaging systems (such as Facebook) in connection with your studies . Again, experience suggests that this tends to mean that other official channels with important messages may be overlooked. 
  • You may not have used email for formal, work and study related communications before. It is important to develop a good feel for email etiquette. For example, when emailing someone you have never met before it is advisable to start with "Dear <title> <surname>". How they reply can then be used to gauge the appropriate level of formality with which to continue. This may not always seem essential in the fairly laid-back environment of academia, but in some professional settings being overly familiar and informal with people you don't know can cause offence or be interpreted as carelessness, so it is wise to err on the side of caution. This rule of thumb is also useful when applying for jobs or postgraduate study after you graduate, so it is a good habit to get into. 

Meeting with staff

Often you will meet staff as part of a scheduled activity such as a seminar, lecture or supervisory meeting, but at times you may want to talk to your lecturer, personal supervisor, project or literature survey supervisor or other member of staff outside these timetabled slots. We pride ourselves on being a friendly department and it should be possible to have such meetings, but you will usually need to arrange an appointment via e-mail.

Members of teaching staff also have responsibilities for research and for administration. They have their own busy timetables that frequently take them away from the office or from the campus. Teaching is usually done in lecture theatres or seminar rooms, and administrative committees may meet in Heslington Hall or elsewhere. Administration can also mean involvement in organisations such as one of the national Research Councils, the British Psychological Society, or an academic journal. This type of work can involve meetings outside York. Some of the research done by the Department is not done in the Department. Research interests of members of staff can mean that they are scanning volunteers at the imaging centre, out visiting patients in hospitals or children in schools as part of their working day.

For such reasons it is not always possible to find your lecturer or supervisor in their office if you arrive without having scheduled an appointment at an agreed time; if they are in, many staff will be happy to speak with you in such circumstances, but of course they may be meeting other students or have other pressing work that prevents them from seeing you right away. The best way to arrange a meeting is to contact staff is by email in the first instance. Please suggest some alternative times when you will be available on campus during working hours. 

When you have arranged an appointment, please try to keep it.  We provide a staff telephone list, which also identifies staff offices.

Online Communications

The VLE is used to provide up-to-date information about the modules you are currently taking. It is important to log in regularly as the VLE is the place where your lecturers and module organisers will give detailed information on lectures, seminars, tutorials, readings as well as tests and quizzes that may help you consolidate your knowledge and prepare for your exams. The VLE provides some facilities for two-way communications such as discussion boards. These are very useful when you have a query about the content or organisation of a teaching block or module. Other students may have the same or related issues, so it is useful to share both questions and answers with other members of the class. Staff will answer sensible queries, but will also be keen to avoid what might be seen as "inside tips" via one-to-one emails.

The departmental website provides a very brief overview of our degree structure and information about staff and their research interests (which can be helpful, for example, when identifying potential project supervisors).

The most up-to-date and detailed overview of the course is provided through this student documentation wiki (including the official 'handbook' you're looking at, together with additional information for current students). Unlike the VLE, this information is available to all students (and other visitors) whether or not they are enrolled on a particular module. This wiki-based handbook also contains useful and important information about University rules and procedures. The wiki system allows us to add to and improve our documentation, and if you have any suggestions for such improvements you should contact Louise Ward ( or Sally Quinn (

To contact the Student Documentation maintainers please email (use your University of York email address).