Learning & Teaching

It is useful to understand that there are differences in teaching styles at university, compared to school, college, or other educational environments. Classes tend to be much larger in scale and 200 people in a lecture hall can be quite normal. There are also a range of other teaching environments such as seminars, tutorials and office hours which you can learn more about here.

Lectures/Artist talks

  • are designed to convey ideas or information to a large group
  • In some courses artist talks happen each week where an artist visits the university to give a talk and later on tutorials can be arranged (one to one) with the artist and the student
  • may be illustrated by slides or video extracts
  • students are not usually expected to speak unless asked by the lecturer, and you will be expected to take notes, though handouts should also be available in advance
  • prepare for your lectures by reading and thinking about the topic in advance – and check out studentcentral for lecture materials and handouts before and after the session

Practical sessions – Workshops:

  • depending on what you are studying, may involve laboratory, practicing clinical skills or studio-based work.


Tutorials usually in some courses may be an alternative term for seminar, but usually implies a one to one (or a very small group) meeting with course tutor or personal academic tutor. Its main function is to assist the student in the ongoing process of producing work and developing its direction rather than presenting work formally as in a seminar.

Field trips and work placements:

  • Depending on what you are studying, may involve a period of time in the workplace, on a placement or a shorter period of work experience. The University of Brighton has formal exchange arrangements with universities around the world.
  • Exchange students don’t have to pay any additional fees to their host university to study abroad. Erasmus is an exchange programme set up by the European Union which facilitates studying abroad. Many departments and courses at Brighton have embraced the programme.
  • In some courses trips to galleries and museums are essential for visiting artist’s works. For more information about gaining work experience alongside your studies, contact the Careers Service for more information.

Technical Demonstration:

This form of teaching delivered by an academic or technical member of staff has as its primary emphasis on not so much the question ‘what to do’ but the question ‘how to do it’. The range of technical demonstration and induction would be as diverse as the practices within the programme.  One main function of such demonstration is to ensure the safe use of workshops and processes in the school. The amount and depth of such instruction will vary depending on the particular area and its needs but the aim is also to ensure that all students:

  • have a level of technical knowledge and experience that is appropriate to the cohort in their chosen discipline;
  • have as individuals access to particular processes and workshops that are deemed necessary for their particular personal work and development as agreed by their course leader/tutor/ academic programme leader;
  • should be computer literate and have appropriate learning and communication skills;

Independent study:

  • Apart from your timetabled teaching you will be expected to study independently

At university, students are expected to set their own learning agenda, and take responsibility for organising and prioritising the different study activities. You will also need to decide what to learn, and how deeply you need to understand it. However, this does not mean you should always learn alone! Many courses have group work, seminars, peer learning schemes and group tutorials to help students learn from and with one another.
Here are some tips to be successful as an independent learner:

  • Be active. Take the initiative in finding out what needs to be done, drawing up plans and implementing them. Don’t wait to be told – act now!
  • Be strategic. Assess your situation – what needs to be done? How can you best achieve your goals? Develop plans to work out how to achieve the best you can, within the time you have.
  • Be systematic. Take time to gather information and organise it. For example, create a To Do list and then map out your week’s study.
  • Be analytical. Analyse complex issues into more manageable components. Determine how the parts relate or interrelate to one another. – use mind maps, checklists, visual diagrams such as charts or Venn diagrams.
  • Be reflective. Learn from your experiences. Review your study activities regularly and consider whether your strategies are working well.
  • Give yourself incentives. Remind yourself of your short term and long term goals and keep track of your progress towards them. Set yourself targets and rewards for achieving them.
  • Manage your morale. Keep your spirits up by playing to your strengths and focusing on what you enjoy. Give yourself bite size tasks with clear outcomes. Keep in touch with other students for support

If you are a full-time student, you should allow the same amount of time for study as for any other full-time job – that is, at least 35 hours a week. But it is very unlikely that your formal teaching sessions will take up the majority of this time. Teaching time varies between courses but for each module that you undertake, you should be provided with a module handbook on studencentral. In your module handbook there is an outline of how much time you will spend in lectures/labs and approximately how much time you should be dedicating to independent study.

Most lecturers/tutors are happy to receive queries via email, to contact a lecturer with a query, you should:

  • Firstly, read your module handbook to see if the question is already answered there. Lecturers are very busy and will not reply to questions, which are answered already.
  • Include the course/module your question is referring to
  • Include your full name
  • Allow for a reasonable response time, especially during busy periods such as exams

Office hours
Most lecturers have office hours where students can drop-in or book a slot to speak to them informally. To get the most out of these office hours:

  • Email your tutor in advance to let them know why and what time you would like to organise a meeting
  • Include the course/module/topic your question if referring to. They may not know who you are yet!
  • Turn up on time

The Personal Academic Tutoring scheme is designed to ensure that all students have regular opportunities to review their personal, academic and career development.Policy

Click here for the full text of the Personal Academic Tutoring Policy (63k pdf). How the policy is delivered varies between Schools, so please read the advice here in conjunction with local guidelines.

How does it work?

You will normally be assigned a personal academic tutor at the beginning of your degree. Your personal academic tutor will be one of the academic staff in your school, usually someone who teaches on your course.

Your personal academic tutor is there to keep an eye on your overall academic and personal welfare and to advise you about other sources of help in the university such as Student Services, the Academic Study Network on Studentcentral and the Students’ Union.

You will usually get a chance to meet your tutor during induction week or soon afterwards, and will then have one or two scheduled meetings a year to review your academic progress. You can also contact your tutor whenever you need advice on any matter, or to let them know about issues affecting your work or wellbeing.

General advice

However supportive your tutor may be, remember that it is your responsibility to use the tutorial system as effectively as possible.

Get to know your tutor early on and discuss concerns before they turn into problems.

Think about what you want to discuss and write it down. Your department may use a form to help you record issues.

Try to agree a short list of actions by the end of the session – practical steps that you can take towards your goals. Writing them down will help you review your progress later.

Mitigating circumstances

If your academic performance is adversely affected by ill health or serious personal difficulties, then your tutor may suggest that you submit a Mitigating Circumstances form to the Course Examination Board. (You will find details of this procedure in your Student Handbook.)

The university also has a set of resources available to support you with your Personal Academic Tutoring, which are available here.

Some useful links to other services at the University of Brighton

NUS advice on managing your time as a student

Social media guide from the University of Manchester