Our learning environment

As a master’s student at Manchester, you’ll benefit from our excellent blended learning and teaching methods.

Our approach to teaching and learning is flexible, which means your on-campus learning, including traditional laboratory-based work, lectures and seminars, will be enhanced with digital materials that you can work through when it best suits you.

Our teaching approach

Teaching and learning at postgraduate level can be quite different from undergraduate level. How you are taught will largely depend on course content, level of study and your academic tutor, but everyone will need to undertake independent study.

Most of our master’s courses are only one year long, so you will begin to specialise in topics that interest you or start to work on a particular area of research where you want to conduct further study.

Studying at postgraduate level involves a greater emphasis on self-directed study than at undergraduate level. You’ll need to think and study independently, conduct more extensive background reading and bring your ideas to seminars and tutorials for discussion and debate.

Our teaching methods are influenced by the student voice – you will have the opportunity to use yours through initiatives such as the National Student Survey.

Assessment methods

  • Continuous assessment – where your marks or grades for essays, projects and laboratory work during the year are considered when deciding your final mark. 
  • Exams – either in-person or online, can be daunting, but there is plenty of support available to you before and leading up to exam periods. 
  • Other assessments include presentations, written assignments, and conducting research and portfolios. 

Master's teaching and learning methods


A lecture is normally a presentation or demonstration designed to give you an overview of a topic (although there may also be interactive lectures) with the opportunity to ask questions at the end.

Lectures are widely used across the University to deliver information, ideas and theories to a large number of students with our biggest lecture theatre located in University Place.

Seminars and tutorials

Seminars and tutorials involve small groups of students and are often led by an academic tutor or guest speaker and involve a presentation, but the format is normally informal and promotes open discussion around specific topics or theories.

Independent study

You will need to take responsibility for your learning and manage your time to fit independent study around your academic timetable and any other activities that you are involved in.

There are plenty of study spaces on campus to work independently or in groups.  

Laboratory and practical learning

Learning by doing is an essential part of science, engineering or health-related courses. These sessions aim to give you an insight into a working environment, knowledge of experimental methods and techniques and put academic theory into practice.

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

Field trips

Fieldwork or field trips can be a compulsory element of some courses and can help you put your theoretical knowledge into practice.

Trips can range from one-day sessions to longer, more in-depth expeditions in the UK and abroad that allow you to explore specific areas and learn techniques. 

Each course differs, but you may need to pay extra for your field trips, so keep this in mind when budgeting for the year. View your course details for more information.

Enquiry-based learning

Enquiry-based learning (EBL) is adopted by many disciplines across the University. In EBL, students work in groups to address real-life scenarios.

You will need to work as a team to critically appraise information and investigate potential solutions while identifying what skills or knowledge you need to effectively manage the situation. 

Projects and dissertations

As part of your master’s degree, you may need to complete a final project where you'll conduct a piece of empirical research that addresses a specific research question in a field related to your course. This may incorporate laboratory or field/workplace-based investigation, data handling or a systematic review.

There will usually be a specific time limit to complete this, but you’ll normally choose, with your supervisor, how much time to spend on it.

Your research is normally presented in writing, but in some cases, you may be asked to give a formal presentation on the results of your project.

Blended and flexible learning

We are frontrunners in flexible learning, and have embraced a more hybrid approach to ensure you get the most from your master’s study.

Through our Flexible Learning Programme we are trialling new ways of teaching and learning – getting you ready for a digital future. We're also creating technology-rich learning spaces across the campus, including access to the widest range of digital resources of any UK university.

Learning through research

On many of our master's courses, you'll have the chance to get involved in research. These opportunities mean you can deliver work that has a real impact beyond your degree and equip you with the analytical skills that will help you take the next step in your career, or as a doctoral researcher.