How we teach

What is contact time?

In higher education, the term contact time is used to refer to the number of hours that you spend learning in contact with teaching or associated staff either in-person or online. The number of contact hours will depend on the subject you are studying and the design of your particular course.

We have increased focus on seminars or tutorials that allow closer interaction between students and a member of staff in the form of discussion in small groups or one-to-one that mimic practice in the professional world, allowing for experimentation, ideas, teamwork and face-to-face feedback. This approach was recognised by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), who awarded us the highest ranking of Gold, thanks to the way we support you and personalise your learning. Find out more about our TEF ranking.

Contact time may take a virtual rather than face-to-face form through the use of email, online discussion groups, virtual learning environments and other means backed by technology. It’s a blended approach to learning that makes the most of students’ and lecturers’ time. It puts you at the centre of your own learning by giving you more opportunity to ask questions, delve deeper into your subject, and, ultimately, give you the experience that will benefit you after you graduate.

Contact time can take a wide variety of forms depending on your subject, and where or how you are studying, but some of the most common examples that are all included as contact time are:

  • Interactive small group sessions These are face-to-face interactive sessions, for example seminars or workshops that are normally be taught in groups and specialist space is not typically required.
    Specialist space sessions These are face-to-face sessions, usually in small groups, that make use of specialist space, for example laboratory sessions.
    Interactive large group teaching These are face-to-face interactive sessions, for example team based learning or workshops. These sessions will normally be taught in groups greater than 30.
    Lectures Typically these are broadcast sessions delivered to student cohorts.  The University is committed to reducing these to those where there is an exceptional requirement to bring a cohort together.
    Off-site activities On some courses, the opportunity for fieldwork putting what students have learned into practice, as well as expanding knowledge of a given subject, or visit an environment linked to the course.
    Work-based or placement learning This refers to any period of planned activity whereby students engage with a third-party work-place as part of their programme of study, and where there is transfer of direct supervision of the student to the third-party.
    Online learning activities with tutor input Sessions where students work individually or in groups on learning activities that are categorised primarily by being facilitated online. They are part of a package of work that could include something to read, watch or listen to, followed by active online engagement including interaction with the tutor.

    These activities are likely to feed in to face-to-face sessions either as preparation, follow-up, or midway through an activity, or in combination.


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