Student resources and information

Essential Information

This page contains all you need to know about online learning, videoconferences, assessment, and student support in the Religion Programme. It includes guidance on the topics of plagiarism and deadlines, both of which can incur penalties if not heeded.

Online learning

Online learning comes with significant benefits for students: it provides another context for class learning, but at a time that suits each individual student; it encourages you to think and reflect as a group, thereby mimicking a tutorial environment; and it facilitates a greater breadth of engagement with the content of the paper. We strongly urge you to make the most of the opportunity by engaging in the online discussions early, not at the last minute; by doing all you can to maintain a genuine conversation, making more than one post, and by approaching the exercise with some enthusiasm. We will do the best we can to create effective online activities, but the success of these discussions ultimately depends on the active participation of the students.

If your course includes an online learning component, the details about which online learning tools are being used in this course will be outlined in the Course Outline. Please read the following information carefully, as it is essential that you are familiar with these tools and can use them with ease.

Student email

The University’s online learning tools use your student email address to communicate with you. If you do not wish to use this address, you should forward all incoming emails to your preferred email address. Instructions on how to do this can be found at

If you choose to use your student email address for all correspondence related to the online learning tools which your course uses (the default) then it is essential that you check your student email address regularly.


Blackboard is the learning management system used at the University of Otago. It allows lecturers to upload lecture notes, reading lists, assessment information and other course-related material to each paper's Blackboard site so that students may access them. It may also hold things such as additional literary resources, videoconference podcasts, audioconference podcasts, Otago Connect recordings and facilities for online discussion. It also contains functions that enables students and teachers to interact via class announcements, email, discussion boards or even via real-time chat (the “Virtual Classroom”), and tools used for assessing students, such as on-line tests and assignment submission.

To access Blackboard go to, login using your University Username and Password.

For further information see the Blackboard FAQ page.

If you experience any difficulties using Blackboard, contact ITS via AskOtago (See:

Online discussion

If your paper includes an online discussion component, this will be on Blackboard in the Discussion or Groups area. We strongly advise that you draft your contributions to discussions off-line and then copy and paste the text into Blackboard. This ensures you have a backup copy of your contributions.


Zoom is the web conferencing system used at the University of Otago. If a lecturer chooses to use Zoom, you will need a webcam and headset microphone to take part, and you will need to make sure that your computer system has the requirements, and is correctly set up to run Zoom. For more information, please read the Zoom Support Page.

Your lecturer will send you an email invitation containing a link to the Zoom meeting, and advising when to login and join the first teaching session for the course.

Please create a Zoom account using your University username. All Student accounts must only be prefixed by student\ e.g. student\blojo456.

^ Top of Page


In the Course Outline that comes with your coursebook, your Lecturer will set out the assessment tasks for your particular course. The following section provides information about the standard procedures with respect to assessment in relation to assignments and (if you have one) the exam. You will also find it helpful to read the section on assessment in the Distance Learning: Information and Support handbook available from the Distance Learning information page.

Submitting your assignment

Your lecturer may require you to submit assignments either electronically via Blackboard or in hard copy directly to the department. There is an essay box near the Religion academic staff offices on the fourth floor of the south tower of the Richardson Building. Entry is via Te Tumu on the ground floor - take the lift or stairs to the fourth floor and the box is just on the right next to the stairs.

Deadlines, extensions and late submission

Your assignments must be submitted no later than the stated due date. In exceptional circumstances an extension may be granted by emailing the Lecturer at least one week prior to the due date. If you are obtaining an extension on medical grounds, you should attach a doctor’s certificate to your assignment when it is submitted. Extensions may be granted for other reasons at the discretion of your Lecturer.

Where an extension has been obtained from the Lecturer there will be no penalty for late submission, provided that the new deadline is met. Where an assignment is submitted late (i.e. after the new deadline when an extension has been granted or after the due date when an extension has not been obtained) the grade awarded for the assignment will be reduced at the rate of 5% of the marks available for the assignment (not the overall marks for the course) for each week day that the assignment is late. If the new deadline is not met or an assignment is submitted after the due date without an extension having been obtained, the grade awarded for the assignment will be reduced at the rate of 5% of the marks available for the assignment for each week day the assignment is late. Your Lecturer will show the grade that the assignment would have been awarded had it been submitted on time and then deduct the penalty.

  •  If an assignment is awarded 80% but is submitted two days late, the mark will be reduced by 10%, (10 marks) and will receive a grade of 70%.
  • If an assignment submitted three days late is marked out of 20 and receives a mark of 17, the mark will be reduced by three marks (15% of 20) and receive a grade of 14.

Style and formatting

If you are in any doubt about how to reference your work, please consult the Department's Style Guide, which is available here. The style guide recommends the widely-used Chicago style but if you are already familiar with another recognized style of referencing, you may use that instead, provided you use it consistently and that you provide full references (including page numbers) wherever you rely on the work of others. If you do not provide full references, you can expect to be penalised.

Please note that every essay should have a cover sheet attached. This should include:

  • The code and title of your paper (in bold print in the upper half of the cover sheet)
  • Your name and student identification number
  • Your lecturer’s name
  • The date
  • A word count


The University of Otago takes the issue of plagiarism—presenting someone else’s work as your own—very seriously. Plagiarism is regarded by the University as one form of academic misconduct. Any of the following may constitute plagiarism and result in investigation and possible punishment:

  1. copying or cutting and pasting text from others without using quotation marks or block quotes to identify that text, nor clearly indicating the source (this includes paper and electronic sources)
  2. copying visual materials, images and/or physical objects without clearly indicating the source
  3. using poor paraphrasing of sentences or whole passages without referencing the original work
  4. using another person’s ideas, work or research data without acknowledgment
  5. copying computer files or computer code without clearly indicating their origin
  6. submitting another student’s work in whole or in part, where this is not specifically permitted in the course outline
  7. submitting work that has been written by someone else on a student’s behalf
  8. resubmitting portions of previously submitted work without indicating the source.

Note that the University's policy on academic integrity states that while plagiarism can be unintentional or intentional, even if it is unintentional, it is still considered to be plagiarism.

Any student found responsible for plagiarism in any piece of work submitted for assessment shall be subject to the University’s academic misconduct regulations, which may result in various penalties, including forfeiture of marks for the piece of work submitted, a zero grade for the paper, or in extreme cases exclusion from the University. The University of Otago reserves the right to use plagiarism tools.

For more information on plagiarism and the University’s response to all forms of dishonest practice, please see


If the paper has an exam, the date and time will be set by the Examinations Office.  Once the examination timetable has been finalised, each student's examination information will be displayed in the Timetable section of their eVision portal. This information can also be found on the examinations website link below.

The anticipated dates for the release of examination timetables are:

Summer School - late January
Semester One - mid-April
Semester Two - mid-August

Once the examination timetable has been finalised, each student's examination information will be displayed in the Timetable section of their eVision student portal.

If there is a problem with the date, time or venue, for your exam (referred to as a Variation), contact the examinations office.  Applications for Variations must be received by the following deadlines:

Summer School Papers: 1 February
Semester One Papers: 1 May
Semester Two and Full-Year Papers: 1 September

For advice on this and all other exam matters, see the examinations website:

Please note that to find out your final result in a paper you should check your eVision student portal around two weeks after the exam period has ended.

Special Consideration

During the Semester:
If you are affected by illness or other exceptional circumstances during the teaching period you are expected to inform the Head of Programme directly (not individual lecturers or tutors) at the time.

Final Examinations:
If you feel your performance in an exam has been impaired for any reason we suggest you apply for special consideration. Applications can only be made through your eVision student portal. Further information can be found on

Note that your application must be received within five calendar days of the last examination for which you are seeking Special Consideration, e.g. if your last exam is on the 20th, your application is due no later than the 25th.


All grading will follow the University's standard scale.

Benchmark criteria for band

90–100   A+
85–89   A
80–84   A-

A- to A+: Very High Achievement
Work reflects original and independent criticism, showing full awareness of the implications of the question, cogently argued with wide range of reference and appropriate illustration, fluently expressed.

75–79  B+
70–74  B

B to B+: High Achievement
Work shows depth of understanding and breadth of knowledge, ability to challenge the question, efficient organisation and illustration, confident expression.

65–69  B-
60–64  C+

C+ to B-: Sound Achievement
Work amounts to a sound, readable answer covering the essentials of the question, with points clearly stated, references relevant, evidence of insight and personal response.

55–59  C
50–54  C-

C- to C: Pass Achievement
Work is of average and predictable quality, rather derivative, covering obvious points, relevant but limited in discussion and in supporting evidence, reasonably expressed.

40–49  D

D: Fail
Work indicates some ability to quote or refer to a text, but material does not properly fit the question, relevant only by implication, expression basic.

Below 40  E

E: Clear Fail
Work is in a range from complete incoherence or irrelevance to answers which show some knowledge of text(s) but little ability to apply it (them). answers with substantial amounts of irrelevant material (biographical, narrative, anecdotal) will usually fall in the upper end of this category.

^ Top of Page

Support and Resources

There is a lot of support available to you. We strongly suggest you take the time to find out where it is and how it can help you in your study.

The Department

Approach your Lecturer in the first instance if you need assistance in this particular paper.

If you have a general administrative query you can contact Rhi Cooper. Rhi's office is on the ground floor of Te Tumu (GS3). Phone 03 479 8674; Email

For academic course advice please contact Dr John Shaver, the Religion Programme Co-ordinator: Phone 03 471 6459; Email

If you want to come in to see the Religion staff we are located on the fourth floor of the south tower of the Richardson Building. Entry is via Te Tumu on the ground floor - take the lift or stairs to the fourth floor.

If you need to post something to the Religion programme, please use this address:
Religion, School of Social Sciences
University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054

The Library

The University of Otago Library offers support and services to students. The home page for the Library is

From here you can gain information on resources available through the University of Otago’s Central Library, and some other university libraries in New Zealand.
The Library catalogue will be found on the home page

Before looking on the Library catalogue for a journal, you may first need to identify useful articles on your chosen topic. To do so, first consult a Library Database. A Library Database is an index to the contents of journals and sometimes books.

The Library subscribes to more than 400 databases. For articles relevant to your discipline, the following are recommended:

  • ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials (American Theological Library Association) - includes some full text articles.
  • Proquest Religion (part of the Proquest 5000 collection) – full text articles.
  • Religion and Philosophy Collection (part of Ebsco Database collection) - many full text articles
  • Index New Zealand – index to New Zealand magazines and newspapers.

To access the Databases subscribed to by the University go to

To access the databases specifically tailored to the study of theology go to

Library Services Specifically tailored for Distance Students can be found at

For distance students, books can be posted with a Freepost return label. Also, sections of books and journal articles can be scanned and emailed if they are requested using the online request form available at

For further information about library support for distance students contact the University of Otago Distance Library Services staff:
Phone: 0800 347 8268;  Email:

^ Top of Page

ITS Service Desk

Students may seek assistance from the University’s ITS ServiceDesk, which is staffed during term time on weekdays from 8:30am until 9:00pm and weekend days from 10:00am until 5:00pm (Ph 0800 479888, email

Distance Learning Information and Support

A great deal of useful material for distance students can be found on the University’s distance learning information and support site

Student Learning Centre

The Student Learning Centre offers assistance in note-taking, writing essays and taking exams via their website

You may also contact the Centre and ask to speak to a learning advisor:
Phone 03 479 5786;  Email

Disability Information and Support

Disability Information and Support provides a wide range of support services for students with impairments, medical conditions, or injuries. This support includes:

  • Copies of lecture notes
  • Loan of specific equipment
  • Reformatting of course material
  • One-on-one tutoring
  • Alternative examination arrangements

To arrange support, students are advised to make an appointment to talk with a Student Advisor as early as possible. This will enable students to discuss the learning support they may require while studying. Any information disclosed to Disability Information and Support is held in complete confidence. More information can be found at:

Disability Information and Support can be contacted directly:
Phone 03 479 8235;  Email

^ Top of Page

Māori Student Support

The Kaiāwhina Māori – Māori Students Support Officer in Te Kete Aronui-Humanities Division is Ana Rangi. Ana acts as a point of contact and support for all Maori students enrolled in Humanities papers and is committed to seeing Māori students succeed. Ana can be contacted in regard to:

  • Any questions, concerns or complaints.
  • Liaison with general or academic staff.
  • Referral to services available to Mäori students.

For more information about Ana’s role and Māori student support within Te Kete Aronui-Humanities Division please see

You can contact Ana directly at:
Rūma – Room: 5C9, 5th Floor, Arts Building, 95 Albany Street
Nama Waea – Phone: 03 479 8681
Ïmera – Email:

The University also provides free and confidential counselling services for Māori students. Our experienced counsellors have skills across a wide range of areas and clinical fields. The counsellors are Vicky Totoro (Ngāti Porou) and Graham Green (Kāi Tahu). Vicki and Graham can be contacted directly at:
Nama Waea – Phone: 03 479 8283 or 03 479 8305
Ïmera – Email:

For more information about these and other services please see the University’s Māori student support services site at

Pacific Islands Student Support

The Pacific Island Students Support Officer is Esmay Eteuati. Esmay is a strong advocate for supporting/encouraging students from all the Pacific nations and is here to assist and work with Pacific Island students wherever possible. Esmay can be contacted directly:
Phone: 03 479 9616;  Email
Room: 5C9a, 5th floor, Arts Building, 95 Albany Street

For more information about services for Pacific Islands students please see the University’s Pacific Islands Centre site at


International Student Support

The Religion Programme regularly trains and teaches international students. In addition to resources within the department, Otago's International Office has an extensive range of support for international students. Please click here.




^ Top of Page

University of Otago Religious Studies Programme rds="0,5,105,142" href="" alt="University of Otago" accesskey="0" /> Religious Studies Programme