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Seminar advice

The readings and questions for each seminar will be posted on these pages two weeks before the seminar. Links to each seminar web-page will appear on the Lecture Programme page.

The aims of the weekly seminars are to:

Clarify any points that were insufficiently clear in the lecture (but not to recapitulate the entire lecture)

Enrich the lecture by focusing on questions or case studies that were not covered, or covered only briefly, in the lecture

Engage in close reading of primary and secondary texts - or rather, share the results of the close reading that students have done in advance of the seminars

Develop the oral and group-work skills of the students (and the lecturer!)

The tutor expects you to:

Consult each of the essential reading before the seminar. You may not be able to read every word of the readings before the seminar, but you should do enough to...

...come up with an answer to each of the seminar questions, with at least one example/quote to back up each answer

Bring the readings to the seminar, whether in hard or soft copy, or bring notes that are sufficinetly detailed to allow you to participate in the discussion

Come prepared with at least one question about the lecture or the readings. The question might concern a lecture slide that made no sense, a scientific or philosophical concept that you would like to clarify, a difficult passage in the readings...

Seminar assessment

Your contributions to the seminar make up 10% of your final mark for the module. This includes a mark for your two presentations (5%) and a mark for your contributions to class discussions (5%). You may use the research you do for your presentations in the other summative assessments, ie. the long essay and exam essays.

1. Contributions to class discussions include the following: answering questions posed to the class by the seminar tutor; asking the tutor questions about the lecture or the readings; and commenting on contributions by other students.

2. Each presentation will be a 5-minute summary of one of the 'Further readings'. This summary should say what the author's main point is, what their evidence is, and what you think of their argument. You may choose to present at any seminar, except the first and last seminars of the year. Presentation dates will be assigned in week 1 of the Autumn term. Presentations will be assessed on the following criteria.

Analysis - does the presenter give a clear and accurate summary of the thesis? Are they sensitive to different kinds of evidence in the reading? Do they offer an independent assessment of the reading?

Evidence - does the presentation contain a range of examples and illustrations, including quotes from the reading?

Structure - is it organised coherently, with a neat introduction followed by a series of points that are distinct from each-other but linked up in a natural way?

Presentation - is the delivery clear and lively, is the presentation 5 minutes long, and does the speaker face the audience and hold their attention? Does he/she speak slowly enough to allow the audience to digest his/her information?


Finally, remember Francis Bacon's dictum, 'truth emerges more easily from error than from confusion.' In seminars it is better to say something false than to say nothing at all.