skip to content

IT Help and Support

University Information Services


What is SharePoint Online?

Microsoft SharePoint Online is a cloud-based collaborative environment. 

Microsoft SharePoint Online is what organisations use to store documents and create websites and intranets. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device. All you need is a web browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox to access it.

What is SharePoint not?

SharePoint Online is not a large storage system. For larger data storeage requirements, UIS recommends our IFS service.

SharePoint Online is not designed for storing research data. For that, UIS recommends one of our Research Storage offerings.

SharePoint Online is not a drop-in replacement for traditional file server based mapped drives. If you need rich granular permissions, stick to a file server. e.g. IFS.

SharePoint Online is not a backup service for other storage devices. If you need backed up storage, consider storing the data in a UIS service that is automatically backed up as part of its design.

What are the different types of SharePoint site?

There are 2 types of sites in SharePoint Online:

  • team sites 
  • communication sites

Team sites

Team sites are private spaces in which you can work on files with colleagues in the same Microsoft team.

Every team and private channel within a Team, has a private SharePoint Online team site in the background.  It contains files that have been shared in the Teams app in channels. 

By default, all Team members can view and edit content in the site. Team members can also create and edit pages in the site. These pages are like web pages. Site owners have some extra permissions, such as adding members to the team.  

Communication sites

SharePoint Online communication sites are more like websites. Only a few of the people with permission to view the site will have permission to edit it. These sites are better suited if you want to create web pages of information rather than storing your files for your team. 

Communication sites can either be open to all users with a University account or restricted to a group of users. 


What SharePoint gives you

  • Data compliance
  • Business productivity
  • Access your content at any time from any location
  • Latest security features
  • Centralised administration
  • Documentation management and collaboration


What you can store on SharePoint

SharePoint communication sites used for intranets or internal websites 

SharePoint communication sites which include web pages and document libraries are suitable for low impact data (level 1). This covers information that is open to a wide group of students and staff within the University. Files and folders that need to be restricted to a smaller group of users should be saved in a SharePoint site connected to a Team in Microsoft Teams.

SharePoint team sites

A SharePoint site created as part of a Microsoft Team can also store high impact data (level 2). However, it is only suitable for this kind of data if you manage the SharePoint permission settings carefully. 

SharePoint is not suitable for:

  • health data where individual patients are named or can be identified
  • data that is subject to a specific contractual agreement that specifies a particular storage method (that is not SharePoint)
  • data that is subject to a specific contractual agreement that prohibits storage in a public cloud service

Find out about University data classifications


How to access SharePoint?

Your SharePoint homepage can be accessed via

Your most frequently and recently visited sites will be listed, you can also 'Follow' a site to add to your list of Followed Sites:

Find and follow Sites on SharePoint Online

Each Microsoft Team has an underlying SharePoint site, the URL will be in the format:

You can also open from Teams under the Files tab of a Channel using this button:


Request a new SharePoint site

Find out how to request a new SharePoint team site or communication site.


SharePoint site organisation

We have disabled the creation of new subsites as this is against best practice, having separate sites avoids issues with inherited permissions leading to sensitive information being shared more widely than intended. Please refer to this guidance from Microsoft on SharePoint information architecture for further details and recommendations.


Get help using SharePoint

Our help pages

Learn how to use SharePoint

If you are not familiar with SharePoint Online already, use the training resources on LinkedIn Learning. 

Microsoft support pages

Further help is available on Microsoft SharePoint Help and Learning Centre.