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Essential information

This page contains all you need to know about video conferences, online learning, assessment, student support etc.


Videoconferences 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. Videoconferences 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 Course Book, and is also posted under 'Course Documents' on Blackboard. They are also listed on the 'Distance Learning' page of this website.  Your participation is a requirement for all distance courses that include videoconferences. 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 Videoconference Recordings section of the Blackboard site for your paper.

Joining a videoconference

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.
Zoom Support Page

The specific URL for each videoconference meeting room can be found under 'Zoom Information' on that paper's Blackboard page.

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

Teaching days

Teaching days take place early in the semester 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 venue and time for the teaching day will be listed in the Course Outline (see 'Course Documents' on Blackboard) as well as the Distance Learning page of our website.

Teaching days take place in Wellington.  They will normally begin at 9:30am and conclude at 4:00pm, with a one hour lunch break. The venue will usually be based in central Wellington.

Please check your Course Outline for details of dates and venues of the teaching days, and advise the administrator as soon as possible if you plan to attend a teaching day.

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 on the ITS FAQ webpage

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, video conference recordings, eReserve readings, Zoom information 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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. 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. The URL you need to access the meeting will be posted under 'Zoom Information' on Blackboard, here you will also find advice on using Zoom. The dates and times of videoconferences are given in your Course Outline. Please create a Zoom account using your student username.


In the Course Outline, 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.

It is recommended that students check their internal assessment grades in eVision throughout the semester and should any discrepancies be noted, contact the department as soon as possible.

For excellent resources to help with writing assignments and preparing for exams, visit the Higher Education Development Centre.

Submitting your assignment

The standard way to submit assignments in the Theology programme is electronically via Blackboard.

How to submit an assignment on Blackboard


  • All Assignments submitted in the Theology Programme must be prefaced with a student Plagiarism Declaration Form (or the plagiarism declaration on Blackboard must be ticked). They will not be deemed to have been submitted unless and until the Plagiarism Declaration Form has been submitted or box ticked. The form can be downloaded from

Deadlines, extensions and late submissions

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.

Extension application (PDF)

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.

  1. 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%.
  2. 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.

Study and Style Guide (PDF)

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

We use 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.

Important note: electronic editions of the Bible may not be taken into exams.


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.

Note: All Assignments submitted in the Theology programme 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


If the paper has an exam, students will be notified of the date, time and location via 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

If there is a problem with the date, time or venue, for your exam (referred to as a Variation), contact the examinations office.

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.

The venue for Distance exams is set according to your 'Semester Address' on eVsion, so please ensure this is kept up to date.

Special consideration

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 on Special consideration

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 Programme directly (not individual lecturers or tutors) at the time.


All grading will follow the University's standard scale:

90-100 A+
85-89 A
80-84 A-
75-79 B+
70-74 B
65-69 B-
60-64  C+
55-59  C
50-54  C-
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.

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.

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.

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.

For all general queries relating to enrolment, ITS support and other University services, please access the AskOtago Service Portal.

Contact us

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

If you have a general administrative or distance learning query, contact us:

Tel +64 3 479 8639

For undergraduate academic course advice, please contact:

Revd Associate Professor James Harding

For postgraduate course advice, please contact:

Chaplaincy, Ministry
Dr Graham Redding

Faith-based Leadership and Management
Professor Paul Trebilco

All other Postgraduate matters (including PGDipTheol, BTheol (Hons) MTheol and PhD)
Professor Murray Rae

If you want to come in to see the Theology staff we are located on the fourth floor of the Arts building at 95 Albany Street.

If you need to post something to the Theology programme, please use this address:

Theology programme
University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054

Digital resources to help with writing assignments and preparing for exams

Sometimes it's hard to know where to start on an assignment, how to study for exams, or the best way to develop your writing or other academic skills. The Student Learning Development team have produced some excellent online resources to help you with a wide range of common tasks and also recommends web-based resources developed by our team and other services at the University of Otago.

Visit the Higher Education Development Centre

Referencing guide for Undergraduate Theology Students

When writing essays or assignments, it is important to acknowledge the sources you have used - this is called referencing.

Referencing guide for Undergraduate Theology Students (PDF)

The library

Self Help resources

This guide offers tips and techniques in developing independent research and information skills.

Library Self Help Guide
Distance Learning Library Guide

Library website

The Library website provides online access to resources and services, including the Catalogue, Library Search | Ketu, Databases, Group Room Bookings, Hours, Library Locations, Library News, New Books, Exam Papers, Subject Guides, and more! You can also 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.

Library website

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.

Access the Databases subscribed to by the University

Access the databases specifically tailored to the study of theology

Theology Subject Guide

This guide will help you find information for your assignments including articles, books, websites and more!
Theology Subject Guide

Distance Library services

This guide will provide you will access to a range of key Library resources and services.

Library services specifically tailored for Distance Students

For further information about library support for distance students, contact the University of Otago Distance Library Services staff:

Tel 0800 347 8268

Ask a question
Library staff at any Lending and i desk are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Try these people first to answer any questions you might have about using the Library and its resources.

Tel +64 3 479 8910

Library links in Blackboard

The Library Study Smart tab in Blackboard offers advice and links to services and resources to help you with your studies. It includes information about the Library, Student IT and the Student Learning Centre. Your paper may also have direct links to the Library Subject Guides and Self-Help Guide.

400-level dissertation student consultations

Your Subject Librarian can offer 1:1 consultations with all students completing dissertations, covering topics including:

  • How to create effective search strategies
  • What databases to search for literature on your topic
  • Bibliometric methods to help you evaluate research impact
  • How to keep up to date using RSS feeds and e-mail alerts
  • Using citation indexes to find connections between research outputs
  • Managing your references and referencing management software

Make an appointment:Amanda Hutchinson

Tel +64 3 479 7404
Consultations for distance students can be via Zoom, phone, email, or in person.

The Hewitson Library

The Hewitson Library at Knox College now has its own separate library catalogue:

Hewiston Library, Knox College Library Catalogue


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.

Tel 0800 479 888

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.

Student Learning Centre

You may also contact the Centre and ask to speak to a learning advisor:

Tel +64 3 479 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.

Disability Information and Support
Tel +64 3 479 8235

Māori student support

The Kaiāwhina Māori – Māori Students Support Officers in Te Kete Aronui – Humanities Division act as a point of contact and support for all Māori students enrolled in Humanities papers and are committed to seeing Māori students succeed.

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 | Tel +64 3 479 8283 or +64 3 479 8305
Īmera | Email

For more information about these and other services:

Māori student support services

Pacific Island students support

The Pacific Island Students Support Officer is here to assist and work with Pacific Island students wherever possible.

For more information about services for Pacific Islands students

Pacific Islands Centre

Support for international students

We encourage international students to seek support if they are having difficulties with their studies or meeting other challenges while they are a student at Otago.

Students can contact International Student Support:
Tel +64 3 479 8344

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