Video conferences help to relieve the isolation of distance study by allowing you to interact with your class and with your lecturer. In each case this learning experience is not designed to go over all the detail of what you have learned in the preceding module. Rather, it will encourage you to stand back from the module to make broad connections; it serves to emphasise the main learning points; and it gives you the opportunity to ask any question you like. Video conferences work best when there is full participation from the students, so we encourage you to engage in the discussion.
If your course includes video conferences, the dates and times will be listed in the Course Outline that comes with your coursebook. Your participation is a requirement for all distance courses that include video conferences. If you are obliged by circumstances to miss one, a recording will be made available on Blackboard a few days after the conference. The recording (or the link to a recording) can be found under the Video conference Recordings section of the Blackboard site for your paper.
Joining a video conference
Zoom is the web conferencing system used at the University of Otago. 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.
Visit the Zoom support page for more information.
Your lecturer will send you an email invitation containing a link to the Zoom meeting room, and advising when to login and join the first teaching session for the course.
Teaching days take place early in the semester in order to encourage participation and a sense of community that will enhance the experience of the video conferences and, where it forms part of the assessment, online discussion. If your course includes a teaching day, the venues and times for the teaching days will be listed in the Course Introduction that comes with your coursebook, and on the coloured cover sheet in your course package. You need to attend only one teaching day as the content is the same in each centre.
As a general rule there will always be a teaching day in Dunedin and in Auckland, and perhaps in one other main centre depending on student numbers.
The teaching day in Dunedin will be held in a lecture theatre on campus. If it is held on a week day, it runs from 3:30pm to 9:00pm (to allow Campus students to attend as well) and includes a one hour dinner break. If it is held on a Saturday, it will begin at 10.00am and conclude at 4.30pm, with a one-hour lunch break.
The teaching day in Wellington will normally begin at 9.30am and conclude at 4.00pm, with a one hour lunch break. The venue will be usually be based in central Wellington.
The teaching day in Auckland will normally begin at 9.30am and conclude at 4.00pm, with a one hour lunch break. The venue is St John’s College, 202-210 St Johns Road, Meadowbank (parking is available onsite).
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 Section One, Course Introduction. Please read the following information carefully, as it is essential that you are familiar with these tools and can use them with ease.
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.
View instructions on how to do this
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 their Blackboard site so that students may access them. It may also hold things such as additional literary resources, video conference podcasts, Zoom 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.
Access Blackboard (login using your University Username and Password.
If you experience any difficulties using Blackboard, contact the ITS Service Desk on 0800 479888 (8.30am to 9.00pm Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm Weekends) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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 a simple online meeting, group messaging, and a software-based conference room solution. Zoom offers high a quality video, audio, and screen-sharing experience across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and H.323 systems. The Zoom service has replaced Scopia as the University of Otago’s officially supported online meeting solution.
If your Lecturer has chosen to use Zoom as part of this course, you will need to make sure that your computer system has the requirements, and is correctly set up to run Zoom. University of Otago staff and students are entitled to create an account, see the Getting Started page to begin the short process.
Your Lecturer will send you an email invitation containing a link to the Zoom meeting room, and advising when to login and join the first teaching session for your course.
In the Course Outline that comes with your course book, 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 handbook Distance Learning: Information and Support 2016.
This may have been provided in your course pack or is available for download:
Distance Learning: Information and Support 2016
Submitting your assignment
The standard way to submit assignments in the Department of Theology and Religion is electronically via Blackboard.
All Assignments submitted in the Department of Theology and Religion must be prefaced with a student Plagiarism Declaration Form.
Late Assignments MUST NOT be submitted via Blackboard. Assignments submitted after the deadline dates printed in this course book must be emailed directly to the Lecturer. It is in your interests to make sure that you receive email confirmation that the assignment has indeed been received.
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
So that we can mark the work of all students to a consistent standard we require you to follow a set style for the formatting of your assignments. The style we require is called Chicago 16, the style most often used in Theology publications. It is essential that you read the Department’s Study and Style Guide as it tells you how to format your footnotes and bibliography according to the Chicago 16 style. You should have received a hardcopy of the Guide when you began your study.
Download an electronic version of the Guide
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 (this is optional, but your lecturer may require it)
Translation of the Bible
The Department uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). This translation attempts to stay reasonably close to the original Hebrew and Greek text, whilst using contemporary and gender inclusive language.
The University of Otago takes the issue of plagiarism – presenting someone else’s work as your own – very seriously. This is the University’s official statement on plagiarism:
Students should make sure that all work submitted is their own. Plagiarism is a form of dishonest practice. Plagiarism is defined as ‘copying or paraphrasing another’s work, whether intentionally or not, and presenting it as one’s own’. In practice this means that plagiarism includes any attempt in any piece of submitted work (e.g. an assignment or test) to present as one’s own work the work of another (whether of another student or a published authority), including material taken from the Internet. Any student found responsible for plagiarism in any piece of work submitted for assessment shall be subject to the University’s dishonest practice 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.
All Assignments submitted in the Department of Theology and Religion must be prefaced with a student Plagiarism Declaration Form to this effect.
For more information on plagiarism and the University’s response to all forms of dishonest practice, please see http://www.otago.ac.nz/study/plagiarism/index.html
If your paper has an exam, the University will contact you around the middle of the semester to let you know the date of the exam and the venue where you will sit the exam.
If you have a problem with the date or the venue for your exam, contact the examinations office in the first instance. You must do this before the following deadlines:
Summer School Papers: 15 January
Semester One Papers: 1 May
Semester Two and Full-Year Papers: 1 September
Please note that to find out your final result in this paper you should check eVision around two weeks after the exam period has ended.
All grading will follow the University's standard scale:
40-49 Fail D
Below 40 Fail E
The benchmark criteria for each band are:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.otago.ac.nz/study/exams/otago062916.html.
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.
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 Department directly (not individual lecturers or tutors) at the time.
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 of Theology and Religion
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 Juliet Dow, the Departmental Administrator: Phone 03 479 8901; Email email@example.com
For academic course advice please contact Dr Chris Holmes, the Theology Distance Programme Co-ordinator: Phone 03 479 5394; Email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to come in to see the Theology staff we are located on the fourth floor of the Arts building on Albany Street.
If you need to post something to the Department of Theology and Religion, please use this address:
Department of Theology and Religion
University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054
The University of Otago Library offers support and services to distance students.
The Library homepage
From here you can gain information on resources available through the University of Otago’s Central Library, the Hewitson Library at the Centre for Christian Leadership in Dunedin and some other university libraries in New Zealand.
The Library catalogue
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 http://www.otago.ac.nz/library/databases/index.php
To access the databases specifically tailored to the study of theology go to
Library Services Specifically tailored for Distance Students can be found at http://otago.libguides.com/distance
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:
Tel: 0800 347 8268
The Hewitson Library (Knox College) may be contacted by email at email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
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 http://www.otago.ac.nz/courses/distance_study/otago019638
Student Learning Centre
The Student Learning Centre offers assistance in note-taking, writing essays and taking exams via their website http://slc.otago.ac.nz/
You may also contact the Centre and ask to speak to a learning advisor:
Tel 03 479 5786
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: www.otago.ac.nz/disabilities
Disability Information and Support can be contacted directly:
Tel 03 479 8235
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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:
Tel: 03 479 9616; Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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