Making the most of lectures, seminars and tutorials

Lectures, seminars and tutorials… terms that you’ll become very familiar with during your time at University. Attending and catching up on these, whether that’s in person or virtually is important to stay on track and key to success at University! Continue reading to find out more…

Students studying in the My Surrey Hive.

What is the difference between lectures, seminars and tutorials?

The specific differences between lectures, seminars and tutorials will vary across Universities and degrees within the same University.

The number of lectures, seminars and tutorials you have will also vary between modules, semesters and the year of study.

This makes it very difficult to give clear definitions of what they are and what is required of students. When starting your degree, make sure to ask you lecturers and academics what is required of you during these, especially seminars and tutorials. This will often be discussed in the introductory lecture to your modules at the start of each semester.

Students watching a presentation.

A general overview:


  • Teaching to a large group of students.
  • Typically take notes and ask questions.
  • Provides additional reading suggestions and ideas.
  • Important to have an effective form of note taking that suits you!


  • Provides the opportunity to discuss ideas and get involved!
  • Students may be set an activity to complete.
  • A great opportunity to develop communication skills.


  • Sometimes referred to as a smaller scale seminar.
  • Sometimes more informal and interactive.

You may also see that some students refer to ‘workshops’, this is another form of setting for learning that could be used for some degrees.

Students in a lecture.

Now onto how to make the most of them!

1- Find a routine that suits you

Whether that’s keeping track of your lectures, writing your notes up, or commencing your revision, getting into a routine with your studying will help you stay on track.

2- Find an effective way to take notes

Once you find a way to take notes that suits you… it makes all the difference and stops you from wasting precious time! Whether that’s writing notes by hand or taking them on a laptop/tablet, experiment to find the easiest way for you. For more ideas, take a look at my blog here!

3- Ask questions

Your lecturers and academics are experts in their field, so ask plenty of questions! Whether that’s regarding something they’ve directly discussed or related topics of interest.

Students taking notes in a lecture.

4- Ask for help

If you don’t understand something during your lecture/tutorial/seminar or afterwards, ask for help! There are so many ways you can get support, whether that’s attending a lecturers drop in session, posting a question on your module discussion board on Surrey Learn, speaking to lecturers after your timetabled session, or going to the Academic Skills and Development Hub/Maths and Statistics Hub in the library.

5- Post lecture: review your notes

After lectures/seminars/tutorials, go over the notes you’ve made. This could be adding information from a text book or journal, checking what you’ve wrote, or watching the lecture recording to add additional notes.

Actively going over your notes again to help consolidate your learning is really important. This could be by making a poster, testing your knowledge or making flash cards. Doing it as you go along will help when it comes to exams!

6- Make note of the learning objectives

At the start of lectures, your lecturers/academics may go through the learning objectives of the session. Write these down! Learning objectives can be extremely useful during revision, using them as practice questions to check your knowledge. I kept an ongoing list on a separate word document for each module. At the end of the semester, I would then print them off and check what I know.

Students studying in Starbucks.

I hope this blog has given you an overview of ways to make the most of your lectures, seminars and tutorials at University. For more information on what to expect when returning to Surrey in September, check out Becky’s latest blog here!