Learning and teaching 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.

Types of learning

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 shaping 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.


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.

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