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Teaching methods

At The University of Manchester, we aim to make your learning experience as engaging and inspiring as possible by utilising a variety of teaching methods, some of which will be new to you.

How you are taught while at university will largely depend on your course content, level of study and your academic tutor – but, however you are taught, you will be required to undertake a large proportion of your study independently.

Below are the main methods of teaching that you are likely to experience during your time here.


It is very likely, especially at undergraduate level, that you will attend regular lectures. Lectures are widely used across the University to deliver information, ideas and theories to a large number of students. Our biggest lecture theatre is located in University Place and can hold up to 600 people – lectures are usually delivered to quite large groups.

A lecture is normally a presentation or demonstration designed to give you an overview of a topic. Generally the lecturer will address the audience and you would not normally ask questions in the middle of the lecture, though there is often an opportunity for you to do so at the end.

Seminars and tutorials

Compared with a lecture, a seminar or tutorial involves much smaller groups of students. Similarly, the session is often led by an academic tutor or guest speaker and can involve a presentation, but the format is normally much more informal and promotes open discussion around specific topics or theories.

Independent study

You will be expected to take responsibility for your own learning and you will need to manage your time effectively to fit this around your academic timetable and any other activities that you are involved in. There are plenty of study spaces on campus.

Studying independently doesn’t necessarily mean you will be studying on your own as there are plenty of opportunities to study in groups and many of our courses actively promote peer mentoring and peer-assisted study schemes.

Laboratory and practical learning

Learning by doing is an essential part of many courses, particularly if you are studying a science, engineering or health-related degree. These sessions aim to give you an insight into a working environment, knowledge of experimental methods and techniques and an understanding of academic material taught on the course.

You may be asked to work independently, in pairs or as part of a small team and for most courses, where a practical element is incorporated, you will be required to submit a piece of work which will count towards your overall result.


Fieldwork or field trips can be a compulsory element of some courses. Similar to laboratory and practical work, fieldwork can help you to put your theoretical knowledge into practice. Trips can range from one-day sessions to longer, more in-depth expeditions that allow you to explore specific areas or learn particular techniques. Each course differs but you may need to pay extra for your fieldtrips, so keep this in mind when budgeting for the year.

Problem-Based/Enquiry-Based Learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) or Enquiry-based Learning (EBL) has traditionally been used by the Manchester Medical School and has now been adopted by many other disciplines across the University. PBL or EBL groups are presented with a real-life problem or scenario and you will need to work as a team to investigate potential solutions while identifying what skills or knowledge you need to effectively manage the situation.

Examinations and assessments

Examinations are probably the most important method of assessment you will face at University and knowing how to deal with them is an essential skill that you will need to develop. Exams can be daunting, but it is important to know that there is plenty of support available to you in the run up to assessment periods. In addition there are many other forms of assessment that you might experience including presentations, assignments, research or portfolios.