The Tutorial System

While a good deal of the teaching in Oxford is provided in just the same way as elsewhere – through lectures, seminars, fieldwork and practicals – the tutorial system is what sets Oxford (and Cambridge!) apart.

Students are expected to work independently in writing essays and preparing other pieces of work for their tutorials, which are taken in very small groups.

As well as being a highly effective way of studying your subject, this system also helps develop many extremely useful transferable skills, including independent thinking, confidence, and self-reliance.

What is a ‘tutorial’?

A tutorial is the weekly meeting all students have with a tutor and usually one or two other students, at which you are expected to talk in depth about your ideas and opinions relating to that week’s reading or problems.

Although this might sound a bit daunting, we find that students soon grow in confidence and develop the skills required to make this academic discussion a successful one – no matter what your educational background.

Tutorial teaching allows you the freedom to push yourself academically and direct your own learning. Equally, tutors are able to monitor your progress closely and help you with any problems with your work at a very early stage.

Like students everywhere, you will probably learn most from your fellow students, and one of the best reasons for coming to Oxford is that you will learn from students with a similar enthusiasm for their subject.

Who gives tutorials?

There is at least one tutor in College for all subjects on offer, who will arrange all the teaching and oversee the academic progress of their students – see the Fellows section for details of tutors and their specialities.

At New College, most of the teaching is given by Tutorial Fellows, but some is done by college lecturers, many of whom are Fellows at other colleges. Junior Research Fellows who are here primarily doing research also contribute to teaching. Since an important aspect of tutorial teaching is the way that close and regular contact allows students and tutors to get to know each other, we aim to provide continuity of teaching and unofficial contact.