A university degree is a combination of a variety of teaching and learning methods. You will attend formal, large-group lectures; you will participate in small-group seminars; you will engage in self-study. Each of these components is critical to your academic success and should be taken seriously.
The teaching in the department is divided between lectures and seminars. Lectures last for approximately fifty minutes and usually comprise of a talk by a member of staff to a large group of students. The size of the group usually prohibits any interaction between the lecturer and students, however staff are increasingly offering an interactive aspect to their lectures, so be prepared!
You are expected to attend all the lectures and to develop note-taking skills. Many lecturers do provide handouts, however these are to accompany the lecture they are not a complete resume of the lecture. Asking a friend to collect a handout for you is not a substitute for attending yourself, hearing the nuances of the lectures and forming your own opinion.
The lecture programme is accompanied by weekly seminars. These are smaller group discussions led by a tutor. You are expected to arrive at every seminar fully prepared and willing to participate. Whilst attendance at lectures is highly recommended, attendance at seminars is compulsory. Failure to attend a seminar without sufficient reason may result in extra work being set to ensure that you catch up with the missed work. Consistent absences from seminars, more than 4 seminars, could result in you being given an extended piece of work to complete, which will contribute to the overall mark for the module.
Sometimes absence from a seminar is unavoidable, for example through illness or a personal matter. If you are aware that you will be unable to attend a seminar you must contact your seminar tutor at the earliest opportunity and explain the reason. If you miss a seminar due to illness you should contact your seminar tutor as soon as possible to apologise for your absence. You may be asked to supply a medical certificate for your student file. Whilst such absences are unavoidable, the department recommends that you ask your tutor for some support work to ensure that you are not disadvantaged through your absence.
A critical part of higher education is self-study. Lectures and seminars are there to support and guide your learning, but you are also responsible for your learning: don’t forget you ‘read a degree’, you do not study a degree. Each module will have a bibliography and you should engage with the texts listed. Sessions are held at the University to assist with this, as the amount of self-study required of a degree is much more than for any course you will have studied at school.
The Library plays an invaluable role in the degree. It provides the texts that will support your learning but it is also a quiet study area where you can prepare for seminars, essays and exams. The main Library is in the centre of Campus, conveniently situated next to the Humanities Building. There is also The Learning Grid, which is a 24-hour facility, located in University House. This is a more interactive study space, where pairs or groups of students can discuss their work without disturbing the quiet study of other students. If you would like peace and quiet whilst you are studying, you are recommended to use the main Library.
Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)
If you suffer from any specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, it is very important that you inform your personal tutor and provide supporting documentation for your file. If the department is not made aware of any difficulties, your tutors cannot take them into consideration when assessing your work. For example, ‘yellow stickers’ are issued to students with specific learning difficulties to ensure that markers are alerted that the students’ work should not be penalised for errors made due to the SpLD. Work without a yellow sticker will not be subject to any exceptions. If you do suffer from a SpLD, you may also be eligible for study support, so it is always important that the department is informed. Full details can be found on the disability webpage of the University’s website.
Special Examination Arrangements
If you had extra time for your school examinations, or experience an injury or illness that prevents you from attending the examination, special arrangements can be made. These can include extra time, a scribe, a non-networked computer and a quiet room away from the main examination room. If you require any special examination arrangements it is critical that you let your personal tutor and the Office know as soon as possible so that the University Examinations Office can make the necessary arrangements for you.
If you do request any special arrangements you must provide supporting evidence – for example, a letter from your doctor. Contact your personal tutor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies if you want to discuss this further.