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Teaching and assessment of Natural Sciences

Teaching and Assessment

When you choose Leeds you will benefit from a wide range of teaching methods, which together with the continuous support of our teaching staff, enable you to effectively apply your knowledge through a series of exams, coursework and continuous assessment.


When you choose Leeds you will benefit from the following teaching methods:

You will learn by listening to a lecturer, who will probably use either PowerPoint slides or white boards. You will be expected to take notes and there may be hand-outs (often available on the web for you to download). You will typically be in a group of up to 200 students and you will have an average of 10 hours of lectures a week.

These usually complement a lecture, and comprise discussions between small groups of students and a lecturer. The tutor will lead the discussion or work through examples sheets and the students will interact both with each other and the lecturer. It is also an excellent opportunity to ask questions and make sure that you understand the material that is given in lectures.

Workshops and example classes
These take place in larger groups of students (20-100) in which you often work in small groups to practise problems associated with the course. Lecturers are available to help with any questions you may have. These are an excellent way for helping prepare you for examinations.

Performing practical work is at the very heart of science and often students tell us that this is the best part of their degree and that they really enjoy the atmosphere we have in our laboratories. We provide some of the most pre-eminent undergraduate teaching laboratories in the UK. This, combined with a comprehensive range of experiments and supported by staff and demonstrators to assist you in your practical work when needed, means you will have every opportunity to fully develop your practical skills and scientific methodology. You will spend, on average, six to nine hours a week in the laboratories.

Independent study
Part of studying at university is that you will take increasing responsibility for your own learning. Through independent study you will gain valuable research skills and develop the ability to think critically, skills in high demand by employers.
There are various facilities to aid you with independent study including extensive computer clusters and virtually universal wireless connectivity. The Edward Boyle Science and Engineering Library has multiple copies of the recommended books but also provides a variety of different studying environments, such as personal and flexible group work areas.

Personal Tutors

Every student is assigned a personal tutor who is there to assist you in your studies.

They will advise you about your module choices and opportunities for personal development. Discuss your progress with you (e.g. exam results), help you if you have any problems, write references for you and are generally there to make sure you make the most of your time with us.


Years 1 - 3
Each year you will study 120 credits of work. Your teaching is divided into modules which are worth between 10 and 30 credits each. In each theory module typically 10-20% of your final mark is derived from continuously assessed coursework which is normally set by the module leader as either a tutorial or workshop exercise. This work will be marked and feedback provided during the course of the year. The nature of this work depends upon the precise module and could range from short problem sets to short essays. The remainder of the marks for theory modules come from a final examination of between 2 and 3 hours for each module typically sat just after Christmas or at the end of the academic year.

In later years some modules may be entirely coursework based, for example in some subject combinations you will have the opportunity to write a dissertation as part of the requirements for your degree. Laboratory practical work typical counts for between 15 and 30 credits of your degree, depending upon your options, and the mark for this element of your study is determined using continual assessment. After each lab experiment is completed you will prepare a written lab report which will be assessed both for your understanding of the experiment as well as the practical results that you have obtained.

Year 4
In year 4, in addition to theory modules (which are assessed similarly to those of years 1-3), you will perform a major research project under the guidance of a member of academic staff. This project is worth between 40 and 60 credits. Assessment of project work occurs throughout the year and is broken down into several components which let you demonstrate the ability to explain your work in writing in preliminary and final reports as well as to give oral presentations. The quality of your research and the results that you gain will also contribute to the final mark awarded.