What To Expect – Law Lectures & Seminars
For those of you joining us at Warwick in October, congratulations! I remember being so excited to start university, the summer seemed to go on forever! But to be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I had just finished the IB in an international school & I was so used to my high school classes that the thought of learning in a different way was a bit daunting. So, here’s what to expect from your classes at Warwick!
In first year, I had 2 lectures per module, per week. Each lecture was an hour long. Lectures are designed to introduce you to a new topic. There is usually little to no reading required before you attend – some lecturers don’t assign anything, other lecturers ask you to read some textbook pages just so you can make more sense of the lecture content.
Lecturers will usually upload the powerpoint on Moodle (the website you’ll use for all of your law module content) just before the lecture begins, so you can download it & have it open while you’re in the lecture. Most students write notes on their laptops – I had one document per module that I did all of my lecture notes in & a separate document for seminar work (see below).
The lecture content will be explained to you by the lecturer – they will go through the slides and discuss each topic while you take notes. You can ask questions, but some lecturers prefer if you wait until the end. In law, we were sometimes given the names of the cases on the slide and then the lecturer would briefly describe the case in the class.
This year, lectures will be online since they are done in big groups. They will most likely still be recorded so you can rewatch them later when studying! Make sure you fully understand the lecture content before attending the corresponding seminar!
Seminars are small groups, around 10-12 people usually. Your seminars will always be a week after the lecture on the same topic. For example, if I have Criminal Law lectures on Murder in Week 3, then I will have the Murder seminar in Week 4. As mentioned before, always attend (or watch, if you can’t attend) the lecture beforehand so that you’re not lost in the seminar.
Seminars require a bit more preparation than lectures. Usually, you will have assigned reading, optional further reading, and then some questions to answer. Your assigned reading will often be from the textbook & any further reading will usually be uploaded online or easily accessible through the online library service. The preparation can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how fast you read, if you decided to do further reading, how much you understood from the lecture, etc.
You may find that you can answer the questions adequately by just using the lecture content and not doing any reading. That’s great but it won’t help you in the long run. The reading is designed to add depth to your understanding and your arguments. When writing essays or sitting exams, you will always need to bring in ideas from academics, legislators, case law, etc. Therefore, I highly suggest taking the time to do the reading for each seminar. Take notes from the reading (either copy some direct quotes or paraphrase it for your own summary) and keep them in your seminar document. That way, when you have an essay to submit, you can refer back to your seminar prep work on that topic and already have notes and sources to use.
Seminars are about discussion. Your seminar teacher will probably talk the group through the questions, you’ll be able to give your input. Unlike law lecturers who usually don’t pick on people to answer, seminar teachers will most likely ask you questions directly because they’ll assume you have done the prep work! Some seminars will become full on debates, some will be an opportunity for partner work or small group work, and some will just be discussing questions or receiving feedback. Seminar teachers are great for answering questions you may have about the content – turn up a little early to the class or stay back at the end and ask them if you’re confused by something! If they don’t know how to help, they’ll probably suggest you go to your lecturer. Both lecturers and seminars have ‘office hours’ where you can talk to them, but I suggest you email if you have a question (especially now, to limit contact / time on campus).
I hope this has provided some insight as to what to expect from law lectures and seminars! The lecturers and seminar teachers are always lovely and will be willing to answer questions if you have any!