Teaching, assessment and contact hours

We encourage and support a co-operative learning environment where both theory and practice are important.

We have structured our MSc programmes to encourage students to develop the skills and expertise employers are looking for. This includes a combination of assessment methods, such as standard closed-book examinations, essays, group coursework and presentations. These increase your knowledge, experience, and confidence as well as improve skills such as team-working and public speaking. These skills can be as important as your academic abilities.


The aim of a lecture is to deliver technical content in a clear way, which is central to the understanding of the topic. Lectures are delivered to large groups of students, especially for core subjects, but typically to smaller groups in some options. Lectures last one to two hours, and will often incorporate current research findings and results from the lecturers’ own research, ensuring that the content is truly contemporary and in context.


Consisting of around 15 students, classes involve smaller group teaching, and are designed to support lectures. Classes tend to be based around case studies or practice exercises, which build on and reflect the content of the accompanying lecture. Participation is encouraged in classes and this is an opportunity for students to raise topics of interest for further in-depth discussion.


Workshops are designed to support lectures and classes and focus on detailed analysis of the technical aspects of the unit. A tutor is on hand to lead topic discussions and work though problems with the student group.

Exercise lectures

Exercise lectures are most commonly delivered to large groups of students on core subjects, and enable students to practice technical skills. Where exercise lectures form part of the teaching method mix, the overall number of contact hours tends to be slightly higher – around one hour extra per week.


The Unit Director chooses the most appropriate assessment method for their subject. Units are assessed through examinations and coursework (group and individual) or by a mixture of these methods. A small number of examinations are sat in January each year. However, the majority are sat in May/June. Resit (refer/defer) examinations are sat in September.

Contact hours

The contact hours any student receives in a week of term depends on the programme they are taking. Contact hours in the autumn term tend to be higher than in the spring term. This is because the core units taught in the autumn are more technical and are laying down the knowledge and skills required for the spring term options.

Office hours

These are times when students can visit academic members of staff without the need for an appointment to seek clarification or further explanation on anything they have been taught in class. Each academic member of staff has two office hours each week during teaching. These hours are offered in addition to formal contact hours.

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