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How I’ll learn at a UK university

What are lectures, seminars and tutorials? In this article, Gareth Jones explains how the terms are usually used in UK universities.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Omar talked about his experience of the key methods of teaching at Coventry University, but is this the same everywhere? What do these words really mean?

Let’s look at them one by one.

What is a lecture?

Omar’s experience

I was sure “lecture” meant all the students sitting in a big lecture theatre listening to the lecturer talk about their subject. Well, it did — sometimes — but our lecturers asked us questions as well and expected someone to answer them as part of the lecture. Or they asked a question and let us discuss amongst ourselves before they took the answer. I thought it was really interesting to be able to discuss ideas in the lecture instead of just listening, although it can be a bit scary to ask a question in front of all your peers.

What will you experience?

Lectures at UK universities have changed significantly over the last 20 years and can now mean lots of different things, but almost all lectures involve students acquiring information in some way. Many lectures are now a lot more interactive, which means the lecturer may ask the students questions and expect them to discuss in groups before presenting their answers to the rest of the class.
Students studying online often have lectures in the form of videos or even live webcasts where they can use the chat tool to ask the lecturer and their fellow students questions about the topic of the lecture. Students almost always have the opportunity to download the PowerPoint slides for a lecture before the lecture starts so that they have time to prepare by looking up key words and thinking carefully about the topic by reading relevant texts from their reading list.

Your task

Have you ever been in a lecture? What did you do? Was it different from Omar’s description?
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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