Search site

School of Geography

How You study

Contact Time

At Level 1, you should expect to have approximately 16 hours per week ‘contact time’, i.e., participation in a session which is taught, led or facilitated by a member of staff (lectures, seminars, tutorials,  or lab classes), in addition to several sessions where you will work in a group without staff supervision. The amount of contact time reduces a little at higher levels, at which stage you will have developed the skills and confidence for more autonomous and self-directed learning.


A range of teaching methods are employed by the School. Some of these will be very familiar to you from school or college, others will be new.

Much of the teaching material is delivered via lectures (50 minutes duration), which may be attended by over 150 students at Level 1, but are smaller at Level 2 and smaller still at Level 3.

In addition, teaching may be delivered through tutorials (groups of six); seminars (groups of approximately 30); computer classes; lab practical classes; independent study; groupwork; online exercises and fieldwork. Opportunities for extra help, including 'drop-in' workshops, one-to-one assistance, and an extensive programme of generic skills training offered by Skills@Library, are also readily available.


The style of learning and teaching at university is quite different to what you will have been used to at school or college. At university, you are expected to read widely for each module you study. A ten-credit module equates to 100 hours study time, which encompasses contact time (lectures, classes), private reading and study time, the preparation of any assignments and revision for exams. A full workload is 120 credits at each level of study, so students are expected to spend approximately 40 hours per week during term-time on their studies.

Independent Learning

Extensive reading is critical for success at university, and although it may seem daunting at first, you will learn how to approach independent learning. You will learn how to use the Library resources and find information; how to read critically and develop a balanced argument; how to plan and prepare academic assignments; how to take and make good notes; how to develop strategies for dealing with the volume of reading required for your course; and how to manage your time.


Students learn from prompt and constructive feedback. Feedback is provided in many different forms, and may be either ‘formative’ (designed to promote better learning and the production of better work); or ‘summative’ (communicating a final measure of achievement, by way of a grade or mark, accompanied by comments).

Here are some of the different styles of feedback that you are most likely to encounter in your studies:

  • One-to-one, group or whole class verbal feedback.
  • Peer review feedback.
  • Electronic feedback via email or posted on the VLE (Blackboard).
  • Written feedback – as a summary, and as annotations on your work.
  • Example or model answers made available for the whole group.


Attendance at all sessions is considered to be compulsory and registers are taken at some sessions. Non-attendance is followed up and patterns of non-attendance without justification may lead to disciplinary action.


Assessment methods vary from module to module, with most modules being assessed through two or three components (e.g. exam; coursework; presentation). The University has two formal examination periods at the end of the teaching blocks (semester one and semester two), but coursework deadlines vary across the teaching weeks, and are staggered to avoid too great a build-up of coursework at any one time. Assessment methods include: examinations; individual or group reports; practical exercises; individual or group presentations; essays; posters; projects (such as the dissertation); and reflective logs.


You are required to pass a minimum of 100 credits, including any modules which carry the status ‘pass to progress’, in order to progress normally to the next level of your Honours programme.