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Study with us | How you’ll learn at university 

Study with us | How you’ll learn at university 

by Katherine Hanrahan

During the global pandemic you’ve had to change the way you learn. Now, some of those new skills you’ve mastered are about to make the move from school to university study much easier. 

In another of our 'Study with us' series of blogs, find out:  

  • what it’s like to study at university 
  • how you’ll learn 
  • the resources and support networks that are in place to help you 
  • what will happen if you still have to learn online 

What’s it like to study at Newcastle University? 

We want you to have an outstanding learning experience with us, and for university to be a place where you grow in confidence as a student. 

We hold a Gold Award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching and learning, and the QAA Quality Mark for the high quality of our academic standards and learning opportunities. 

In practice, that means you’ll learn from world-leading experts and top academics at the cutting-edge of your discipline, including National Teaching Fellows recognised for their outstanding contribution to teaching. 

Your lecturers are highly experienced at guiding you as you learn  in fact, in the National Student Survey 2020, 89% of our students agreed that our staff are good at explaining things. 


What will happen if my learning is still online? 

We want to deliver large and small group learning, teaching and assessment, while also making sure our staff and students are safe at all times. 

To do that, we’ll remain flexible in how we deliver your learning.

We'll continue to work within Covid-19 restrictions, and adapt our approach to support you and allow you to engage with learning in ways that are most suited to the situation as it changes.

So, if restrictions need to tighten again, we can reduce the present, in-person elements of our teaching and return to online learning without disrupting your studies. 

For more information read our Covid-19 FAQs. 


How will I learn?  

Let’s look at some of the ways you might learn with us. Please note, these methods may be subject to any Covid-19 restrictions  in place at the time. 


Lectures. Probably the most well-known form of university teaching. Lectures can take place in an auditorium, lecture hall, regular classroom, or, if the public health situation demands it, online.  

They're designed to introduce you to the main elements of your course and your lecturer will talk about their particular subject, sharing their expert knowledge. 

You’ll listen and take notes for further study to follow up in your own time – a skill you’ve probably already been developing as you’ve been learning online during school or college. 

  1. What equipment will I need for university lecture? 
    You’ll need a notepad, pens/pencils and a highlighter for taking notes. Alternatively, if your lecture is online, you can use a laptop if you feel confident taking typed notes. 
  2. How long do lectures last? 
    Lectures can last between one to two hours, and may involve the lecturer giving a PowerPoint presentation, using a whiteboard, or they might just talk to the class. 
  3. Can I ask questions? 
    This depends on your lecturer’s teaching style. They’ll probably tell you if they’re happy to take questions during a lecture, or if you should wait until the end. Sometimes, you may need to arrange to contact them at another time if you want to discuss something further. 
  4. Do I have to attend lectures? 
    Attendance at lectures – whether they're held online or you attend in person, on campus – is usually compulsory.


Seminars. These can involve a smaller number of students and are more interactive. Again, they can be held online or in person on campus.

During a seminar,  you’ll be encouraged to ask questions and take part in discussions with your tutor and fellow students  

And if you think that’s something you could never do, think again! Chances are you’ve been contributing to class discussions online at school or college, and have been developing the confidence and communication skills you need for discussion and debate. 

  1. How should I prepare for a seminar at university? 
    It’s important to read over course material and your relevant lecture notes in advance, so you’re ready to contribute your views and ideas. Identify areas you'd like to go over and prepare some questions you might want to ask. 


Small group learning. This will be your opportunity to tackle a project with other students, test out your theories and reinforce your understanding of your topic. You’ll work together as a group - online or in person - to carry out research and develop a presentation which you’ll deliver to your class.  


Self-supported study. This is when your experience of learning online will really pay off. Self-supported study is an important part of your degree, your learning experience at University, and your development as a student. 

Just as you’ve had to be self-disciplined in your learning at home, you’ll direct your own further study as you immerse yourself in your degree.

But this time, you’ll have access to some extensive facilities, such as our state-of-the-art study spaces and the award-winning library service at Newcastle. 

And if learning is online, you’ll still be able to access the resources you need thanks to our extensive e-book, e-journal and e-readings collection, plus our library click and collect, click and post and contactless returns services. 


Research. With access to specialist subject facilities, you’ll be able to carry out original research, building your knowledge of a topic you’re passionate about. Access may be subject to any Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time.

Find out about the five-star facilities you could be using at Newcastle to support your research and learning.  


Practical sessions and fieldwork. During practical sessions – for example, laboratory work or artefact handling – you’ll use industry-standard equipment and techniques. This will give you hands-on experience that prepares you for your professional future.

And whether it’s a visit to industry or an archaeological dig, you’ll learn from, and observe, professionals during your fieldwork. You’ll also get the chance to apply the practical skills you’re learning in a real-world setting. 

Both methods of learning may be subject to any Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time.


How will my learning be supported? 

You’ll be assigned a personal tutor, an academic member of staff who’ll support you during your time at university, offering advice and guidance on your course.   

And if you need a little extra help developing the numeracy and writing skills you need for university study, we also offer two study support services  Maths-Aid and our Writing Development Centre – both of which can be delivered online if necessary. 

Our Maths-Aid programme can help you master mathematical methods, revise for exams with a maths element, understand statistical tests and more.  

Our Writing Development Centre can help you develop the techniques you need for academic writing, as well as other academic skills, including critical reading and effective note-taking, revision strategies, how to plan and manage your time, and how to get the most out of lectures and seminars. 

At Newcastle University we educate for life, so whether you’re learning online or in person on campus, your learning will be engagingstimulating, and you’ll be supported to develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed when you graduate. 

We hope you've found this blog useful. To learn more about what it’s like to study with us, read the other blogs in our series: Study with us| Adding to your degree and Study with us | A guide to our facilities.