Learning at Surrey

When you start university, you will encounter a range of learning and teaching methods, some of which may be new to you.

What will learning at Surrey be like?

Your learning will be divided between independent study and sessions with academics, both of which may require you to take more of an active approach to your studies than you have before (see our guide on making the most of your university learning experience).

Your teaching and learning will be varied:

  • It will take place online and face-to-face (Surrey’s ‘hybrid learning’ model)
  • It will not just be delivered by your lecturers: as an independent learner you will be expected to actively participate to fully benefit from your learning experience.

Depending on your course of study, you may be involved in learning situations such as:

  • Lectures: A presentation led by academics and usually taught to large groups, which may sometimes include participation and activities
  • Pre-recorded lectures: Lectures accessed on SurreyLearn (see below)
  • SurreyLearn: Surrey’s virtual learning environment (VLE) gives you access to learning materials, module and programme information, tests and online assignments and other activities (see 'learning expectations at university', below)
  • Seminars, tutorials or workshops: Smaller group sessions that often involve dialogue and sharing of ideas, usually face to face. These will encourage engagement and interaction from class members
  • Labs: Sessions that allow students to practise laboratory-based disciplinary skills
  • Simulations, rehearsals and studios: Environments that allow students to apply their learning in real world settings or creative spaces
  • Online discussion sessions: These are hosted on the VLE or on platforms such as Microsoft teams and Zoom, and provide an opportunity to discuss pre-recorded learning materials. To participate you will need to prepare beforehand, for example, having viewed a pre-recorded lecture or other materials
  • Independent learning: Time outside timetabled sessions to follow up on topics, plan and complete assignments, revise for examinations and tests, work with peers and seek study advice (see our guide on starting your Surrey ‘learning journey’)
  • Feedback and consultation hours: An opportunity to meet with your tutor in a one-to-one environment.

You may however encounter other forms of learning which you will be made aware of throughout your course.

Learning expectations at university

At university there is a greater emphasis on you managing and organising your learning independently. This means that the onus is on you to take responsibility for how you organise and plan your studies but also recognise when to seek help and advice. To achieve your learning goals, it is essential to plan and organise your time see our guide on planning and organising your time.

Additionally, as an independent learner you will need to become familiar with using SurreyLearn, which will become integral to your university learning experience. It will be beneficial when you start your course to take time to find your way around this online platform (support and advice will be available). This is important, as you will need to actively participate in learning tasks, as well as access module reading lists, on an almost daily basis. This could include reading or viewing content in preparation for a class.

To discover more about being an active learner in your learning community see our guide on making the most of your university learning experience.

Your enhanced hybrid education

Your enhanced hybrid education will include lectures, mostly delivered live and in-person but some will be pre-recorded. Most lectures will be delivered face-to-face on-campus but they will be recorded and/or may be streamed, if appropriate.  

The rest of your in-person teaching will include small group sessions, tutorials, workshops, seminars and any sessions in laboratories, studios and simulation suites. We highly recommend that you join these sessions in-person to get the most out of the interactions. These interactive sessions cannot be meaningfully recorded.   

Guided learning activities will also be provided through our virtual learning environment known as SurreyLearn, to further help you in your learning and prepare you for your assessments. You should also expect to take the time to do your own study, through researching beyond what you learn in class.    

You will be assessed, mostly online, through exams and coursework but also through many other types suited to your course, such as lab experiments.  

Please be assured that your safety and wellbeing will always be our priority, and we will continue to take all necessary measures in accordance with government guidelines on Covid-19. We are also making contingency plans should there be any changes to this guidance. 

Key takeaways

There are many benefits to the blended learning approach, such as being able to access subject content at a time of your own choosing. This gives you the opportunity to break things up into smaller chunks and even watch lecture recordings whilst consulting relevant texts.

Whatever learning environment you find yourself in, remember it is useful to build relationships with others. An example of a way to do this is to meet fellow students after a lecture to review what was discussed. Zoom is a useful tool to enable this online. For more information on building a supportive learning network see our guide on making the most of your university learning experience.

The combination of rich and varied learning environments you encounter at Surrey will help you to develop a range of skills that will be invaluable in life beyond university. The advice in all the remaining guides is designed to support you to make the most of your learning experience.

What next?

Managing varied learning commitments means planning and organising your time effectively; see guide 3. Planning and organising your time.