How we teach

All teaching in the Life Sciences is a combination of departmental lectures and practical classes (labs), complemented by small group class teaching and tutorials, centred on the College. Of course, as with all other Oxford degrees, the most important component is self-driven independent study in those areas in which individual students are most interested in, and part of the role of the College subject tutor is to support the development of these independent study skills.

Tutorials are given where the individual tutor finds most convenient - sometimes a college, sometimes a Department, whereas lectures and practicals always take place in Departments. Many of your tutorials will not be in Hertford: we only teach the subjects we do research in. You also get feedback from your College subject tutor on practise exams ('collections') in a wide range of topics, supplemented if required by marks and feedback from specialist tutors elsewhere.

Tutorials are the core of undergraduate education at Oxford - they are what makes us almost unique in the world. This is teaching in very small groups - typically two or three students and a tutor, but sometimes one-on-one. Tutorials give the invaluable transferrable skills of well-organised writing, critical thinking, cautious wording and, ideally, originality, which help make our graduates so employable. They are not there to pump you full of facts - that's what lectures, individual study and practical classes should do. You'll be pressed to defend your arguments, and become confident to do so - but always careful to emphasise what can, and can't, be supported by evidence. You'll be trained to think and write like a scientist and this helps in many other areas of life in addition to your professional development. The tutors at Hertford are very experienced in tutorial teaching, and at organising it. Having numerous, regular tutorial reports provides us with a very good way to monitor progress, allowing rapid response and solutions to problems and potentially very supportive and detailed career references.

Ultimately, it will be up to you to get the most out of your time in Oxford. Your College tutor guides you in how to be efficient, and opens opportunities for you by finding other good tutors in particular subjects . It's then your job to plan your time carefully, and get the full benefits from the expertise of each tutor and lecturer that you meet.