How we teach

Some of your teaching will occur through Faculty lectures and seminars. These are open to students at all Colleges. It is important to make the most of this Faculty-based teaching, which will often be delivered by leading international experts in the field. Science subjects also require students to undertake laboratory based practical work. Most of your teaching, however, will occur through College-based tutorials and classes. Your Hertford tutors will teach many of the subjects. Where we do not have the relevant expertise, experts based in other colleges will teach you. The principal method of teaching is through the tutorial, though this will be supplemented by classes and seminars where appropriate and at the tutor’s discretion.

It is impossible to define a tutorial. The tutorial experience will differ between tutors and across subjects. It is also very dependent upon what you put into it as a participant. In general terms, the tutorial will be based upon a reading list circulated in advance of the tutorial listing the leading books and articles relating to the tutorial topic. This will often be accompanied by an essay or problem question that you will be required to produce a written answer to on the basis of your week’s reading. You will then meet with your tutor for an hour, usually accompanied by one or two other students.

The tutorial will provide an opportunity to explore difficult concepts that you have encountered in your reading, and to develop and refine your arguments. If you have done your reading and thinking in advance of the tutorial, you should expect it to be an intellectually challenging experience. You should also expect it to feel like hard (but rewarding) work. We believe that arguments improve through being tested in discussion and debate, based upon a close and careful reading of the sources and authorities. Tutorials are not mini-lectures. They are not designed to be a medium for imparting facts. The success of the tutorial is therefore a joint responsibility of tutor and student, and these joint responsibilities are taken very seriously by the College.