Read on for details on our V&A Academy online courses, including information on course content , our online learning technology , how we use and protect your personal data, gifting and refunds, accessibility and payment information.
How will my V&A Academy online course be delivered?
V&A Academy Online consists of a wide range of different courses, workshops, webinars and events, all of which are delivered via Microsoft Teams in specially crafted environments designed to support your learning.
A typical art history course may consist of video lectures, additional study materials and online discussion spaces where you can interact with your tutor and peers, while a practical workshop may have live interactive teaching, plus pre-recorded videos and other materials. Webinars are simpler in structure. Please refer to the webpage for your chosen course or workshop for more details.
Live learning is a big part of the V&A Academy Online experience. You can watch in real time by joining a Teams 'Live Event' or Teams Meeting, or you can view the session later on Microsoft Stream, a private video network, to which only you and your fellow learners will have access.
Additional study materials may include pre-recorded video tutorials, lecture handouts, PDF copies of PowerPoint presentations, further reading lists and other resources. These are all held in a secure space within your learning environment.
Whatever you are studying, the social aspect of your learning is critical. In your learning environment you will find peer-to-peer discussion spaces, where you will have the chance to share your perspective on the topic at hand and explore the perspectives of your fellow students. Often you will be joined in these spaces by a V&A curator or by one of our tutors. Discussions are moderated by a course administrator.
Unlike some online courses, each V&A Academy online course is a closed online learning environment, accessible only to students, tutors and administrators for that specific course, so whether you are in a Question-and-Answer (Q&A) session or a peer-to-peer discussion, you will always have a good sense of the people you are learning alongside.
How many hours a week will I need to set aside?
Courses vary in their intensity, so make sure to check your course programme.
For a 12-week art history course, you will have three hours of lectures a week, plus extra non-lecture teaching (curator talks or object spotlights, for example). There will be optional additional readings to accompany lectures, you may choose to watch a lecture more than once to consolidate, and there will be lots of discussion to engage with, too. Therefore, we would recommend setting aside at least 4 – 6 hours a week to get the most from your course.
A typical six-week practical workshop consists of 90 – 120 minutes of live tutorial time per week, plus a weekly lecture from a V&A curator or other expert on a relevant historical topic. There will also be pre-recorded skills tutorials and weekly homework assignments, and as much chat and support as you need! Set aside at least 4 – 6 hours a week to get the most out of it.
How much time will I get with the course director?
Your course director will be available to answer questions during the Q&A sessions that follow each lecture, and there may also be opportunity to chat with your course director outside of lectures at our 'meet and greet' sessions. These will be publicised in advance. Course directors and speakers will not be obliged to make themselves available outside of these set times to answer questions. A member of the Academy team will always be on hand to answer any technical questions you may have.
How long will I have access to course materials?
This varies by course. After your course or workshop ends, your learning environment will typically stay open for at least as long as the course duration, i.e. a 12-week course will stay open for 12 further weeks after the last lecture. This will allow you plenty of time to consolidate your learning, to explore further, and to continue your discussions. During this time, there will be no further contact from course directors or speakers, and the Academy team may not be able to provide technical support. You will receive an email reminding you when your learning environment is about to close.
What if I'm not in the same time zone? What if I miss a lecture?
V&A Academy online courses are designed to give you a great experience wherever you are in the world. We are based in London, UK, and so our live learning tends to take place between 10.00am and 17.00pm GMT/BST, but wherever possible, live content will be recorded and made available for you to view in your learning environment within 12 hours of it being given. There may also be additional content for you to engage with at your own pace, such as pre-recorded tutorials, or PDF copies of PowerPoint presentations.
To see what UK timings mean for you, check the World Clock.
Can I submit questions for lecturers if I'm not going to be watching their lecture live?
Yes. Our learning environments have a 'Q&A' channel where you can post questions for your tutor or fellow learners to reply to.
Is there any homework?
There is no mandatory homework on V&A Academy online courses.
Some of our courses – particularly practical courses – may give you the opportunity to submit work for feedback from your tutor. On every V&A Academy course, your course leaders will provide avenues for further study, and you will have a lot of opportunity to enter into discussions on the topics at hand with your fellow students. The learning does not stop when the lectures end!
Will I receive a certificate? Can I earn course credit?
No. V&A Academy online courses are not accredited, and you will not receive a certificate on completion. In some circumstances, we can provide written confirmation of attendance. To request confirmation of attendance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your course administrator.
I'm on an art history course. Can I submit an essay to be marked by the course director?
No. There will be many opportunities for you to contribute your perspective to group discussions, and it may be that your course director may join those group discussions as an equal participant. If you have previously chosen the 'certificate option' on an in-person V&A Academy art history course, that option is not currently available on online courses.
I'm doing a practical workshop. Are materials included?
Generally materials are not included for online courses. A materials list with guideline price points will be sent to you in plenty of time before your course begins.
Can under-18s attend V&A Academy online courses?
No. Owing to data protection rules, we regret that we are unable to accept students under 18 at this time. Find out more about V&A's programmes for young people.
Can I opt out of group discussions?
Absolutely. You are not obliged to participate in group discussions, or to submit questions during question-and-answer sessions. Find out how to manage notifications in Microsoft Teams.
When you sign up for a V&A Academy Online course, we will send you information on how to get into your learning environment and how to make the most of it, including 'how-to' videos to get started, as well as some tips and tricks. Plus, there's plenty of support from the team.
How do I access my course?
V&A Academy online is a closed learning environment built using Microsoft 365 software, including Microsoft Teams. Each class exists as a 'Team' within that environment. To access your class, you will need to sign in to Microsoft Teams. We will send you sign in details shortly before your course is due to begin, along with full instructions on how to get going.
For the best experience, we recommend you use a web browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge on a desktop computer. On fully up-to-date computers, Safari is compatible with Microsoft Teams, but if your computer is older, use Chrome or Edge.
Note: Firefox is no longer compatible with Microsoft Teams and is not recommended.
How do I reset my password?
If you have forgotten your password, email email@example.com with the words 'Forgotten password' in the subject line, and we will send you a replacement. This may take up to 12 hours, and password resets may not be available outside of UK office hours.
Can I use my own email address to log in?
No. To gain access to your course and all the features of your learning environment, you need a V&A Academy Online account. We create this for you, and it takes the form of a username and password.
When we create your V&A Academy online account, we will create a new email address for you ending @academy.vam.ac.uk – this is your V&A Academy Online username, and you will need it to sign in to your course. This username, and your password, will be sent to your personal email address before the course begins. During the course, the large majority of communications will be made using Microsoft Teams.
Note: certain V&A Academy Online events, such as our 'In Practice' webinar series, do not require you to have a full V&A Academy Online account, only a free Microsoft account. Guidance will be provided when you buy your ticket.
I already use Teams for work. Is that a problem?
No problem. When we create your V&A Academy Online account, we will generate a username and password with which you will need to sign in to Microsoft Teams. Note: you may need to sign out of your existing Microsoft Teams account in order to sign back in with your V&A Academy Online account.
Signing in with your V&A Academy Online account details will bring you to your learning environment, which will be separate from any other Teams environments you may already have.
I already have an account with the V&A. Will that do?
It depends on what type of account you already have.
If you are a V&A Member or have bought something from the V&A Shop online, then you may have created a V&A Shop account.
To access your V&A Academy Online course you need a V&A Academy Online account, consisting of a V&A Academy email address (ending academy.vam.ac.uk) and a password. We will send you this before your course begins.
If you've studied with V&A Academy Online before, and have an account with a username ending @academy.vam.ac.uk, you will be able to use these same login details to access your new course or workshop.
Can I use my iPad/tablet?
Yes, with a note of caution. To gain access to your course on your tablet, please download the Microsoft Teams app from your app store. If you already have the app, please ensure you have the most up-to-date version.
Some learners have reported difficulties using Apple iPads to watch live lectures delivered via Microsoft's 'Live Events' software. This is an ongoing issue for which there is no current resolution. This affects the majority of our courses, including all art history courses. Many students experience no problems at all, but we do recommend that for the most reliable service, you use a desktop computer or laptop where possible.
Is my computer powerful enough?
If your computer is less than 10 years old, it should be powerful enough for you to watch video lectures and access additional materials and discussions. Microsoft Teams requires no more computer power than any other video call software, so if you have used other platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype video before, your computer will be powerful enough.
It is important to make sure you have the most recent operating system on your computer.
You can find out what hardware your Windows computer has by going to the Control Panel and clicking on 'System'. On a Mac, simply click the little apple in the top left corner of your screen, and choose 'About this Mac'.
See a full list of Microsoft Teams technical requirements.
How fast does my broadband need to be?
Microsoft Teams will adapt to make sure that you get the best possible experience. However, to make sure you can see and hear your video lectures clearly, it's good to have a download speed of over 2MBps. Check your broadband speed with the Which? website.
Do I need a webcam?
Not necessarily. On most of our courses there will be moments where you will be invited to turn on your webcam and microphone if you wish. This may be simply to say hello to your fellow learners in one of our Meet and Greet sessions, or it may be more formalised, as in the case of our practical workshops, where you will have the chance to engage with a small-group tutorial. However, you will never be obliged to turn your camera on. What's more, you will always be given a warning before a session is recorded, so you will have the opportunity to choose whether you appear in the session recording.
Will other students be able to see my email address?
No. Your fellow learners will never be able to see your personal email address, though they will be able to see the email address associated with your V&A Academy Online account. Note: the V&A will not use your V&A Academy Online email account for any communications. We will only ever contact you in Microsoft Teams, or via your personal email address.
Do I have to download Microsoft Teams?
For the best experience, we recommend that you use Microsoft Teams in a web browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. The downloaded Microsoft Teams desktop app is very powerful, but for the large majority of our learners we find that the web version is sufficient, and easier to use. All the relevant functionality can be used via either the web version or the desktop app.
How do I download Microsoft Teams?
We recommend you use Teams in a web browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Simply visit teams.microsoft.com to get started.
If you would like to download Microsoft Teams, you can do so from the Microsoft website.
There are many videos and articles online about how to use Microsoft Teams, and once you sign up for a course the whole Academy team will be on hand to support you if you need help getting started.
For help signing in, try our video: V&A Academy Online: Sign in video for desktop computers and laptops
Can I do the course anonymously? Or under a pseudonym?
The group dynamic is so important to the happy running of our learning environments and so we would prefer that students attended under their own name. In exceptional circumstances, we will allow students to attend under a pseudonym. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request this.
Can I buy a course as a gift?
Yes! How kind! To buy a V&A Academy Online course or workshop ticket as a gift, simply make a purchase in your own name, then forward the booking confirmation to email@example.com and let us know that you would like to transfer the place, including the name and email address of the lucky recipient. If it's a surprise, let us know, so we don't let the cat out of the bag before you are ready.
I've booked two or more courses. What do I do?
Great! Each course will appear as a separate 'Team' in Microsoft Teams. So all you need to do is sign in to Microsoft Teams as normal using your V&A Academy Online account and make sure you select the correct course from the 'Teams' list once you are inside.
Can I book over the phone?
All V&A Academy Online courses and workshops are bookable online. If you are having difficulty, please call the V&A Contact Centre on 020 7942 2000.
Can I pay in instalments?
No, at present we do not offer the option to pay in instalments.
Can I pay in currency other than GBP?
No, at present we do not offer the option to pay in any other currency. We do not currently accept PayPal, Apple Pay, WePay or GPay.
I'm a member. Do I get a discount?
V&A Members receive priority booking on V&A Academy courses, but do not receive a discount.
How much do the courses cost?
Course costs vary. 'In Practice' webinars cost £15 for a 90-minute workshop, while our twelve-week online art history courses cost £395. Check individual course pages for more information.
Are there any additional fees?
For some of our practical workshops, you may be required to purchase additional materials. A list of required materials with rough pricing will be supplied in good time.
There may also be opportunities arising during courses for paid optional extras such as walking tours, handling sessions or practical workshops but these will never be obligatory.
We want to make our learning available to all. If you have any accessibility requirements you would like us to know about, please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Contact Centre on +44 (0)20 7942 2000.
Find out more about accessibility features in Microsoft Teams, on the Microsoft website.
Do your live events have subtitles?
Yes. We use Microsoft's automated caption software to generate captions during our live events. Find out more about captions in Microsoft Teams Live Events, on the Microsoft website.
Can I bring someone along to support my learning?
Absolutely. Email email@example.com to let us know what you need and we will be happy to arrange it.
Conduct, complaints and refunds
We – learners, teachers, and the Academy team – all work hard to create learning environments that are warm, creative and rigorous. For more information, see our Learner Values and Conduct policy:
I would like to make a complaint. What do I do?
In the first instance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Contact Centre on +44207 942 2000 and we will make sure that your complaint gets to the right place as quickly as possible.
Full details on our complaints procedure are available in our Learner Values and Conduct policy above.
What is your refund policy?
If you change your mind or can no longer attend a course, email email@example.com or call +44207 942 2000 no more than 14 days after you made your purchase and we will be happy to provide you with a full refund with no administrative fees. In exceptional circumstances, refunds may be offered after this point – contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more with our full terms and conditions.
How will you use and manage my personal data?
During the course
When you purchase a V&A Academy Online course, we will require some personal data from you to complete the purchase process in our online shop. Data from this (your name and email address) will be used to create a student account for you in our Microsoft 365 environment, so that you can participate in V&A Academy Online activities. You will be able, but not obliged, to add information to your profile, including a picture and a screen name.
If you ask a question during a live lecture via Microsoft Teams, or contribute to online discussions/chat forums, your name and contribution will be recorded and held in Microsoft 365. All lectures will be recorded and made available with the closed course environment. You can choose whether or not to contribute during the session. It is also possible to ask a question anonymously during a lecture by selecting that option in the Q&A interface.
Service usage data
We may also collect identifiable service usage data, such as which resources you have accessed on a certain page and data on which courses you have previously attended. Tutors may invite written contribution from students, to be uploaded via Microsoft Teams. In this case, that work would be stored in an identifiable way, along with tutor comments/responses. Anonymised business insight information may also be collected, for example to see how many students have accessed a certain resource or how much time people spend on certain pages, so that we can make sure we are providing content that students find useful.
Sharing your data
Your data will not be shared outside of the V&A. Students may be contacted by email by V&A course administrators or by their course directors for the following reasons:
- to provide administrative information
- to offer strictly relevant promotions for additional learning opportunities (e.g. V&A curator-led sessions)
- pastoral or technical issues
- optional surveys about Academy online
Your student data will be retained for up to six years after the last course you attended, at which point your Microsoft 365 student licence will also be revoked. If you come to purchase another course in the future, a new account will be created. Financial data is retained for seven years after your last purchase.
We are relying on the following lawful bases for processing your data for Academy online purposes:
Contract – for the processing of data for ticket purchase, creation of the student account, administration of the student's relationship with the V&A (e.g. record of courses attended), recording of contributions/names in online cohort chat forums/discussions
Consent – for recording of questions/names in webinars, demographic surveys (if not anonymised)
Legitimate interest – tracking of service usage in order to provide/improve the offer (analytics), communications regarding strictly relevant promotions for additional learning opportunities. We believe it is the V&A's legitimate interest to ensure that the offer we provide to students is appropriate and continually improving by undertaking these activities. We consider the V&A's legitimate interest is not overridden by students' rights and freedoms in these circumstances.