Methods and materials

We’re committed to excellence in teaching methods and providing the very best learning environments and materials for you. This means you’ll learn from leading teachers who are experts in their field.

You’ll develop skills and gain experience that will be fundamental to your future career. We use a wide variety of teaching techniques, from traditional laboratory-based work, lectures and seminars to flexible learning.

New ways of learning

At university the way you learn may be different from at school or college. How you are taught 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.

A stronger emphasis is placed on teaching you to apply information. This might mean being asked to answer questions where there’s no right or wrong answer, but scope for opinion and debate.

You will be encouraged to read widely, question and analyse what you have read, and openly discuss your ideas in seminars and tutorials. The main teaching and learning methods at Manchester are:

Flexible learning

We are leading the way in flexible learning and are instilling it as a natural way of working for our students.

Through our Flexible Learning Programme we are ensuring our teaching is accessible, inclusive, and will prepare you for an increasingly digital world. We have already introduced game-changing digital enhancements, such as etextbooks and professional screen recordings, and will continue to introduce exciting new delivery modes.


It’s very likely, especially at undergraduate level, that you will attend regular lectures, which are widely used across the University to deliver information, ideas and theories to a large number of students.

A lecture is normally a presentation or demonstration designed to give you an overview of a topic. Generally, a lecturer will address the audience and although you may not traditionally ask questions in the middle of the lecture, 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’ll be trusted to take responsibility for your own learning and will need to manage your time effectively to fit this around your academic timetable and any other activities you are involved in. There are plenty of study spaces on campus, and you will benefit from a more flexible approach – giving you greater control over your learning.

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.

Field trips

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 in the UK and abroad that allow you to explore specific areas or learn particular 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. For more details see the web page for the course you are interested in.

Problem-based/enquiry-based learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) groups are presented with a real-life problem or scenario, and work as a team to investigate potential solutions while identifying what skills or knowledge are needed to effectively manage the situation.

Enquiry-based learning (EBL) is similar to PBL in that the emphasis is on a small group of students to take the lead during the teaching session, but the EBL approach focuses more on encouraging students to direct their own lines of enquiry by creating open-ended questions.


Depending on the type of degree you are doing, you may do a major project, which will generally be in your final year. You will normally choose, within the confines of your project, how much time to spend on it. In some cases, you may be asked to give a formal presentation on the results of your project.

Learning through research

On many of our undergraduate courses you'll be given the chance to get involved in research. These opportunities give you the chance to deliver real impact beyond your degree, as well as equipping you with the analytical skills that will help you take the next step – whether that's into your new career or as a continuing student.

The main assessment methods are:

Continuous assessment

Most courses will involve some form of continuous assessment of students. This means that marks obtained for essays, projects and laboratory work during the year are taken into account when deciding your final mark.

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.

Student collaboration

Our Institute of Teaching and Learning has been established to support teaching quality and embed innovative methods of delivery, as we embrace new, experimental ideas.

The student voice will play a pivotal role in the way we teach.

Rewarding excellence

We recognise and reward excellent student performance. A range of prizes and bursaries, including the Manchester Medal, are presented each year to the best students.

Our unique Stellify programme is an employability award designed to support your career and personal development, and provides an opportunity to take part in a range of fantastic extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

When you graduate we’ll provide you with a comprehensive higher education record of achievement covering your entire course. Your record will identify and detail transferable life skills as well as your academic grades, to help you demonstrate the value of your learning experience to future employers.

Our Careers Service will be available throughout your time here, offering support and advice to prepare you for your future.