SharePoint Online

What is it?

SharePoint Online (SPO) is the University’s first choice platform for data storage when working with shared/team information.

  • It allows you to manage, share and collaborate on documents, files, lists, news and other content with both University staff and students. Guest access can also be granted to allow those external to the University to access information.

  • You can co-author a document with multiple people at the same time, making collaboration easy. SharePoint Online also provides the ability to quickly find, filter, sort and share information. It enables you to find any file that you are looking for quickly with personalised search and discovery features.

  • SharePoint Online is a good replacement for shared drives. It provides 25TB storage space, allows easier document management and provides a great deal of functionality that is not available with shared drives.

  • One of the many benefits of SharePoint is that it enables you to create attractive and more accessible shared workspaces, which are easier to navigate. It also has a more sophisticated search function, allowing you to locate documents faster.

  • SharePoint adds greater flexibility to your working day, as it can be accessed anywhere from any machine, (please view the Information Handling section below for details on limitations).

SharePoint Online works well for:

  • Storing documents for your team or department.
  • Sharing and collaborating on documents across teams/departments and with external partners.
  • Sharing other types of information such as lists, files, news, and intranet content.
  • Searching and finding documents, files, and other content.
  • Automating workflows to manage your document and content lifecycle.

If you are a site owner still using SharePoint 2010 please read our update.

You can access SharePoint online without needing the application on your device by visiting and selecting SharePoint from the application launcher in the top left-hand corner.

SharePoint Site Owner Responsibilities

As an owner of a SharePoint site, you are responsible for the management of its members and for the information that it holds. There are several points you must be aware of:

  • You must have at least two site owners. The owners must be staff or Postgraduate students. If a site owner moves post, they should be replaced immediately so that there is never one single site owner.

  • The membership must be kept up to date. If a staff member no longer needs access because they have left or changed posts, they should immediately be removed (to stop them having access to documents they no longer require access to).

  • SharePoint sites have external sharing off by default. It can be requested if you have an external collaboration requirement. Site owners are responsible for ensuring those external to the University only have access for as long as they need it.

  • The permission group ‘everyone except externals’ should only be used after discussion with the Microsoft 365 (M365) collaboration team. The group includes any user (staff, student, affiliate) who can authenticate to our M365 service and can increase the risk of accidental data exposure, in addition to confusing search results for colleagues who happen to search keywords that return content from your site.

  • Define audiences and memberships clearly. The majority of sites should serve a particular audience and IT Services can work with you to set this up.

  • Understand the permissions you set up. Sharing and Permissions gives you more information on permissions, in particular the section Overview: Site governance, permission, and sharing for site owners.

  • Understand the level of control you need. Owner/s want to be the only people who can share content from the site or add and remove members from it. Or do you want a more open site where your members can add other members and share content without your approval. You can read more those settings here – Set up and Manage Access Requests.


Instructions for staff and postgraduate research students on how to install Microsoft 365 are available here:

If you are having issues with SharePoint Online, you can use the in-app help function. Click on the ‘?’ icon within a site to open the help feature.

For help with SharePoint, please visit the M365 Help and Support site. Here you will find:

If you can’t find the help you are looking for then please contact the IT Support Centre.

To Request a New Site

Please go to the SharePoint site request.

Ensure before you set up your site that you have read your responsibilities above, that you have accessed the M365 Help and Support site resources to learn how to use SharePoint and that you have read the Information Handling section of this page.

Learning about SharePoint Online

To explore the basics and familiarise yourself with SharePoint Online, try

Information handling

Information classified as Very Sensitive must not be processed or stored on M365 and advice must be sought from the Information Governance Office if you handle this type of information.

If you are processing/storing information or data classified as Highly Restricted in M365, please follow the information handling minimum controls set out in the Information security classification examples and handling guidance for confidential information.

Please note: MS365 does not provide the processing environment necessary to meet some research funder requirements for Highly Restricted Data, please contact Research Data Management for guidance or use the Highly Restricted Data Service.

Continue to adhere to the Information Governance Office Best practice guidance on sharing and storing information and whenever you’re working with data.

The M365 Collaboration and Document Storage pages also provide useful tips on managing your information.


SharePoint Online has some limitations to be aware of, which includes things like invalid file names and file types.

Top tips

Some things to think about in your planning include what sort of information you want to store in SharePoint Online, who you want to share it with, how you want to organise the information, how you will ensure that you remain within University and legal requirements for Information Security, how long you want to keep information for.

Retention Labels

It is possible to apply retention labels to documents within SharePoint Online libraries. With retention labels you can:

  • Set a starting trigger and a time period for labels set up for your particular use
  • Choose to set the label against each document or a whole folder

Documents with the label are automatically deleted when the time period is passed.

As an example, if you produce a lot of documents which require deleting 5 years from the end of the academic year or from the date they are saved, a folder could be created with an appropriate label applied which deleted such documents automatically as of that date.

The Information Governance Office are responsible for managing the labels. If you think retention labels would be useful for the site you set up, please contact the Information Governance Office to discuss your use case further: