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Lectures and Seminars

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Lectures are an essential part of the learning experience and will play a central role in your preparation for seminars. They are never a substitute for reading, but they will give you a broad framework within which to understand the main themes of the module and the particular material you are reading. Listening to a lecture is not a passive activity. You will need to give serious attention to developing your skills in note-taking if you are to get the most out of the lectures. HI989 Historical Research: Theories, Skills and Methods is the only PGT module that will consist of lectures; all other modules will follow a seminar format.



Apart from your Personal Tutor, your main source of academic help will be your seminar tutors. These seminars are your most important regular commitment, and attendance is compulsory. If you have to miss a seminar, always let the seminar tutor know as soon as possible the reasons for your absence (preferably in advance).

Participation in seminars is central to the process of learning. Seminar participation allows you to test out your ideas about a subject together with a tutor and other students, and, in the process, develop oral communication and group-work skills which are likely to be as important as your writing skills in whatever you do when you have finished at Warwick. Potential employers are usually just as interested in what your tutors have to say about your participation in seminars as they are in the marks you get for essays or exams, which require a distinctive set of skills.

There are four golden rules for making the best use of seminars:

  1. Come prepared. Manage your time so that you have always done the required reading. Unless you read for seminars you will not be able to participate effectively, or even to understand properly what is being discussed by others.
  2. Participate. You should always come to a seminar with something to say. But do not feel that you have to be certain before you speak. Seminars are about exchanging ideas and testing out your understanding. Asking questions and articulating your own difficulties in understanding things will help both you and other students, who may well share the same difficulties.
  3. Do not try to dominate. Participation does not mean talking all the time! Seminars are about the exchange of ideas, and it is just as important to learn to listen to what others are saying and to respond to their ideas as it is to present your own views. The skills you should be aiming to develop in seminars are group-working skills, not how to push yourself forward but how to act as a valuable member of a team.
  4. Treat others with respect. Respect the diversity and different experiences of all members of your seminar group. Use the seminars to learn about other perspectives and cultures.

It is important to take some responsibility on yourself for the success of the seminar as a group. If you are in any doubt about your performance in seminars, please ask the module convenor or seminar tutor for advice.



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