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Teaching and learning - advice for international students

Sitting in lectures all day, every day? Think again. Many of your studies will take place outside the lecture room. It helps to know what to expect when you start your studies so we’ve summarised the main study methods on this page to get you on the right track.

Student at computer

Study skills

Our courses can be very intensive, particularly our one-year postgraduate courses. This means that managing your time and motivating yourself are really important study skills to develop, as early as you can.

As your course progresses, you’ll also need to demonstrate independent, analytical and critical thinking. You'll be expected to conduct independent research and learning.

That’s why you and your classmates will be encouraged to question what you’re learning, right from the start!

We know that in some cultures it may be considered impolite to disagree with a teacher, or to question something that’s been said in class, or even to ask a question during lesson time. At NTU, you’ll be encouraged to ask questions, and to challenge and debate ideas with your lecturers and your classmates.

Studying here may be very different to what you’re used to. Our international students tell us that this is probably the greatest challenge – they also tell us that it can be the most rewarding and empowering part of their student experience.

Study and teaching methods

Here are a few examples of the study and teaching methods you may experience on your course.

  • Lectures –  formal sessions in large groups led by your lecturer(s). You’ll be expected to take notes.
  • Seminars – informal sessions in much smaller groups led by your lecturer(s). You’ll be encouraged to contribute your ideas, debate and discuss your learning with your lecturer and classmates.
  • Workshops – small group sessions to discuss and / or do some practical work together on a subject
  • Group work – small group (4-8 students) sessions to discuss a problem or complete an activity.
  • Independent study – you’ll have what looks like ‘free’ time on your timetable. This is time for you to do your own research. Maybe you’ll study at home, in the library or in a cafe – it’s up to you.
  • Day trips – opportunities to travel with your classmates and lecturer to another location relevant to your course.
  • Role play – you and a classmate may be asked to act out and explore a problem together.
  • Case studies – you’d be asked to choose an example of an individual, group or event related to your subject and investigate it.
  • Presentations – you’ll may be asked to deliver a talk to your classmates and lecturer on a particular subject.
  • Work placements – opportunities to apply for a temporary job at an organisation to get some work experience.

Your lecturer or tutor may prefer to be called by their first name rather than their surname or ‘Mr’ ‘Miss’ or ‘Doctor’. They will tell you and it's perfectly polite to do this.

Teacher and students in class

Course modules and assessment

Modules

Most courses are divided into modules.You need to successfully complete a certain number of these modules in order to progress to the next year of your degree, or to graduate.

Some course modules are compulsory –  you must do them – and these form the basis of your degree. These are usually called ‘core modules’.

Other modules are optional – you can choose to do them. You may find that these lead you to an area of particular interest in which you can further specialize. These are usually called ‘elective modules’.

Assessment

Methods for assessing student work include:

  • coursework (essays)
  • examinations
  • projects
  • reports
  • group work
  • presentations
  • dissertation
Seminars

Getting feedback on your work

You’ll be given feedback on your work after you’ve submitted or completed an assignment or project. This could be from your lecturers or from your personal tutor.

Make sure you take time to understand and learn from the feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is not clear, it is not impolite and can be very helpful.

You can contact your lecturers and tutors by email, or they may offer office drop-in sessions where you can talk informally face-to-face.

Support and learning resources

During your course induction and your first few weeks at the University, you’ll be given plenty of advice about your coursework from your lecturers and other staff.

We also have teams across the University who can help you develop your study skills.

You’ll find the learning resources for your course on your NOW online workspace. NOW is a virtual learning environment that contains all the course-related information you’ll need, such as timetables, reading lists and recommended textbooks.

You'll also have your own personal NTU Student Dashboard to help manage your transition into university study and to keep track of your progress. It’s a great idea to log in to this before you arrive so that you can familiarise yourself with these resources.

Studying in the UK preparation course

The British Council resource: Study UK: Prepare to study and live in the UK has lots of useful advice about preparing for your studies in the UK. Students find this a useful course to complete before starting to study here.

Still need help?

International Development Office
+44 (0)115 848 8175