Lectures are a distinctive part of the university experience for most students. Lectures usually happen with the whole class together in a large room or lecture theatre. Usually the lecturer will do most, or all, of the talking, but there may be opportunities to ask, or answer, questions. A lecture acts as an introduction to a topic with a summary of essential knowledge and key reading or ideas to follow up yourself afterwards. It is an opportunity to learn from experts in your field, but they won’t supply everything you need to know. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Before, during, after

It’s a good idea to do some preparation beforehand and review your notes afterwards. This guide has good advice on preparation, note-making, recording, and strategies for students who, for various reasons, find it difficult to learn from listening to lectures.

Staying focussed

Our concentration span tends to be about 20 minutes at a time, so it’s not surprising we drift off during an hour lecture. Look at this blog for some practical advice on how to minimise distractions.

Social learning

You may be tempted to skip lectures, especially if they’re not your favourite way of learning. But lectures are more than just a presentation of knowledge, they are a chance to learn together. When else does your whole class meet in one place? Also the lecturer may give valuable insights into upcoming coursework and exams to the group.

Miss a lecture?

Don’t let one missed lecture slip into a habit of missing more. Make a conscious effort to get the notes and catch up especially if understanding the next one depends on it. Talk to friends and set aside extra time to read around the topic.

Online lectures - prepare and have a purpose

Some people find it harder to learn from online classes. This may be because they haven’t had time to think about what they want to gain from the class. It is easy to join your class via Zoom a few moments beforehand and not really be ready for it. The principles of preparing for a lecture beforehand and reviewing the notes afterwards are still very useful for online classes.

Further resources

If you’d like to delve more deeply into how to make the most out of your lectures, see this resource and book list created by Brookes Library: