There are different ways in which learning happens here at Surrey and the skills that the University provides to equip you to become an independent learner. Studying here will develop your competitive edge through the acquisition of the knowledge, skills, experience and confidence to take control of your future.

Learning is considered as a partnership between you and the University.  You won’t settle for less than your academic best, and neither will we. But we also want to harness your passion for your subject. That’s why we’ve developed an innovative teaching environment that supports and stimulates independent learning, with exciting study approaches, state-of-the-art technology and brand-new facilities.

The forms of learning and teaching that you will encounter can be broadly summarised as scheduled, independent and placement learning.  These are the three categories used in the Key Information Sets (KIS).  You will encounter at least two of these categories during your study at Surrey.  The proportion of learning and different teaching methods will depend upon the discipline you are studying, the year of study and whether you are taking a Professional Training Year or placement in health and social care.

Scheduled learning

The University provides you with direct timetabled contact with academic staff to support your learning. The prospectus pages and programme specifications will give you more detail of the specific teaching and learning methods used on each programme. You will also be able to see even greater detail in module descriptions. Some typical examples of teaching methods are:

  • Lectures (where academic staff introduce ideas or delivers facts to a larger group of students.  Many lectures will involve some student participation and will make use of a range of media and technologies including the University’s virtual learning environment, SurreyLearn.
  • Seminars/tutorials: These sessions provide the opportunity for you to engage in smaller groups in discussion of a particular topic and/or to explore it in more detail.  Seminars may be often be student-led in the later years of your programme (for example presenting presentations to your peers).
  • Project supervision: one-to-one/group sessions providing support and skills for individual or group projects, usually in the later years of your degree.
  • Practical sessions s (e.g. laboratories; workshops, performing arts classes, rehearsals or performances; language laboratories; engineering design projects)

The nature and amount of this delivery will depend on the subject you study and what the degree is designed to achieve (the learning outcomes).  For example if you are studying a science or Engineering you can expect a greater amount of face-to-face delivery to provide laboratory or engineering skills which require you to be able to conduct experiments, develop laboratory skills or design solutions to engineering problems. Similarly face-to-face delivery is important in a subject such as performing arts where the degree prepares students with practical performance skills.   

Independent learning

At Surrey we aim to equip our students with the vital skills of independent learning, problem-solving and autonomy to prepare you for your future employment or study. Our graduates are highly prized by employers for these skills and together with our Professional Training placement help ensure that Surrey is one of the top universities for employability.

The phrase “reading for a degree” still has relevance today in that the nature of higher education is about conducting research, being a critical thinker, developing sophisticated opinions on the work of others, analysing data and creating your own answers to  complex academic and practical questions, finding solutions to problems and creating knowledge.

From your second year (and in many arts and social science disciplines in your first year) you can expect there to be more time given to independent learning to allow you space to conduct your own research and practice skills as you work on coursework and projects.  

While you take responsibility for your own learning, we will provide support through seminars, personal tutorials, project supervision and academic training on using information sources  provided by the University Library.

In many programmes you also find structured support delivered through SurreyLearn, our web-based learning environment. Using computers and mobile devices to create a personalised online setting, this new learning environment will allow you to work with fellow students through groupwork, discussions and blogs, as well as giving lecturers the means and flexibility to set coursework and communicate with you virtually, putting all interactions in one easily accessible place. Other online technologies at Surrey include an e-portfolio, where you can plan and record your learning and development, and media streaming so your lecturer can make videos and TV programmes available to you.

Additional study skills support is available through SPLASH. Student Learning Advisers in SPLASH will help you to develop your study strategies and your transferable skills, plan your personal and academic development and provide opportunities for one to one guidance. Workshops and drop-in sessions will sharpen your skills in all-important areas including academic writing, managing time, presentation skills and revision strategies.

Placement learning

Placement learning, fully integrated within our degrees, is a strong feature of study here at Surrey, which contributes to our high employment rate. Most of our students undertake some form of placement learning through our optional Professional Training placement year (usually in your third year) or on clinical placements as student nurses, midwives, dieticians or other health and social care professions.