Tuesday, 26 August 2014


September is looming and the back to school season begins, for those who are about to embark on their first year of uni its a very daunting time. I was in the same boat only a year ago and boy has it flown by. I know I was so chilled about starting university as I thought I knew what to expect, but I did not at all, and wish I had known a few more things. One topic I was very unaware about was lectures and tutorials, which are the bulk of your learning time in university. I am aware some people do 'Labs' however, I haven't done any as of yet so will just be covering what I've gained from the last year.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LECTURES AND TUTORIALS? A lecture is a spoken and visual presentation from a lecturer who will generally be the only one with the input into the class and will be on set topics accordingly. You will write notes, answer the odd question but generally take in the relevant information. Tutorials are the follow on from a lecture and are the discussion point between lecturer and classmates to discuss and follow on points made from the topic. These are the ways on enhancing what you've learnt and to keep thinking of the bigger picture.

ARE LECTURES BORING? Lectures are really simple, they're as you expect and they are essentially a lecturer at the front of a big room, with a powerpoint presentation and he or she will be presenting their topic with visuals. The idea is, you gain knowledge via visuals and voice and these will be your notes to collect as you wish to enhance knowledge and put this to use in coursework and exams. Lectures are only boring if you have a boring monotone teacher, generally I enjoy them.

DO YOU HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN A TUTORIAL? As a journalism student we're a pretty vocal group and no one is really that shy. You don't have to often but it genuinely benefits yourself and classmates if you do as it keeps things flowing and not awkward. The reading lists and suggested reading prior to the lectures and tutorial for that lesson each week are crucial, you simply find out of things to say if you've only the knowledge from the lecture so do the readings, and you'll be able to participate hugely from it.

BOOKS AND READING? The readings are generally set texts from chapters that you'll be suggested to read. Its ideal to take notes after you've read the chapters to then take these to the tutorial so you can put these into discussion in class. I found the one class I did a huge amount of reading on, I was able to add loads to the class and it felt like the most I'd learnt from a lesson ever. The reading seems pointless and long winded but it will only be put off as you'll need it for coursework anyway.

NOTES? Half way through last year I changed to note taking to my laptop, it took one person to break that chain and everyone was at it. Its helpful for sure to be quicker however its very difficult to not get distracted by buzz feed or keep up with quick side notes and flicking between lectures. For my second year I fully intend to write all my notes in notebooks for each subject then transfer these to the computer to fully intake the text. However, this is all on personal preference, if you cant stand your handwriting or you're slow at writing, then a laptop all the way.


  • Always catch up when you miss a lecture- I said this so many times last year and didn't, then kicked myself. You really will benefit from catching up. The slides should be available on your virtual learning environment or moodle. 
  • Also if you miss some notes as a teacher speeds by slides, ensure you catch up, or even ask to go slower. 
  • Check out ABE BOOKS [LINK] and Amazon [LINK]for cheap second hand books. Last year ABE gave me a 60p (plus p&p) textbook! Of course the university library will have every book you need for free.

I hope this is of some help to you freshers or even second year students. My second year looks a tricky one so I fully intend to follow my own advice and work super hard. If you have any more questions do let me know! I'm thinking about doing a advice on freshers itself! Do let me know! 

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