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Your First Year

Make the most of your first year! Your first year is the time for you to practise your new skills and gives you time to get used to this new way of learning and feeling more comfortable for the years to come!



Lectures are designed to explain main topics or themes that will occur in your modules. Depending on your course size it could be in a big lecture theatre or in a smaller room, but it will usually be led by an academic member of staff. Many students like to take notes or ask permission to audio record lectures so they can take this away and work on the content of the lecture at a later date. It is not just a one way communication though, some academic staff choose to ask students questions or encourage group work.

Bear in mind…

  • You can’t write everything down (virtually impossible!) and you will miss what is actually being said if you are writing all the time. Make simple notes or jot down key words. There are a number of notetaking methods you can explore like the Cornell method 
  • Most lectures are recorded and posted afterwards on Blackboard Learn. Check if your lecturers do this as it is good to go back and recap what was said and see if you missed anything
  • By all means bring in technology to take notes…just don’t get distracted by it!
  • Your lectures contain important and core course information so it is advised that you attend all of them, or as many as you can 


Seminars (sometimes known as tutorials) are normally regular meetings in a smaller group linked to a certain module or lecture. They are more interactive and you will be expected to attend having done some background reading or research and maybe present some information to the group.

  • Getting involved in seminar discussions will help you as you will remember discussions and the points made much more. This form of learning comes from speaking as well as listening to others
  • Do the preparation: there will always be information on Blackboard Learn or via your course handbook to guide you in the direction of what you should be doing or reading.
  • Discuss the work with your peers if this helps, try to think how a seminar topic connects to your other lectures


Practical assessments won’t be on all courses, but for those who have them, they will be a key part of your first year. Practical assessments occur in specialist teaching rooms or labs and give hands on experiences to help you learn whilst guided by a tutor. Normally you will get specific instructions or tasks using specialised equipment either in groups or individually.

 A couple of tips to help you with your practical assessments:

  • Always be willing to ask questions
  • Keep any notes and handouts as they will help you revise for exams
  • Preparation is (as always) key, so ensure that you read anything put on Blackboard Learn before your practical assessments.

Personal Tutors

Personal tutorials are a key part of the learning process as they are usually in much smaller groups or one on one. Tutoring@Brunel is a University initiative aimed at developing students’ connection to Brunel and tends to be more informal. It is important that you are prepared (again!) just so you can make the best use of your and your tutor’s time. Additional meetings are available if you really need them during academic office hours.


Your First Assignment

It may seem daunting, but your first assignment should be something to take seriously in order to give you grounding as to where you are and what help you may need. Check the sections on feedback, referencing and plagiarism on the right hand side of this page, if you need them. Your first assignment is not designed to be easy and do not panic if you feel out of your depth as it is very likely everyone else is struggling too!

Should you need any assistance with academic writing and assignment structure contact the ASK team 

Maths and Statistics

Many courses will have an element of maths and/or statistics even if you aren’t doing courses that are based on maths or statistics. Students often worry about working with numbers, especially if you haven’t done maths since GCSEs or O Levels! There is plenty of support available through the ASK team though so no need to worry! You can request an appointment with the ASK advisors or attend the office hours for Maths or Statistics