Teaching and Learning

At Lancaster Environment Centre we pride ourselves in the quality of our teaching across both the natural and social sciences.

We offer stimulating, high-quality and innovative teaching that builds on a diverse range of student learning approaches. Our strong international research reputation ensures that we are at the cutting edge of our fields, and provides us with fresh ideas and approaches for our degree programmes. Many of our key staff have won national awards for the quality of their teaching; Prof. Barbara Maher and Dr. Suzi Ilic are recent recipients of the Pilkington Award for Teaching, and Dr. Andy Folkard has won a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship.

Our Teaching

Our teaching takes a range of different forms, combining lectures, practical work and field trips with small group tutorials and guided private study.

  • Lectures introduce you to the concepts and theory you need to understand key subjects. This isn't just passive learning - we aim to enthuse and inspire you with the excitement of being at the forefront of knowledge.
  • Practical sessions allow you to apply what you have learnt in a controlled environment and to get hands-on experience using many of the techniques you may go on to use in your future career. In addition to the extensive laboratory facilities we have across the department, we are building advanced new teaching labs which will be available for use in 2015.
  • Field trips provide the opportunity to learn how environmental processes work in the real world, and form a core (and popular!) element of all of our taught courses. These range from half-day trips to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales to residential field courses in Spain, the USA, Iceland or the Amazon.
  • Tutorials and workshops involve more in-depth teaching in smaller groups, allowing you to consolidate your knowledge and to discuss key topics with your tutor and peers.
  • Reading forms a core element for all learning, whether making use of our extensive university library facilities or on-line learning environments and network resources available directly from your own room.
  • Assessment is typically split between coursework and exams, and takes a wide variety of forms, from essays and reports to module tests and individual or group presentations.
  • A dissertation project forms a key part of most of our degree schemes, and allows you to do your own research in an area that interests you, and to develop key skills which may be of use in your future career. This project will be guided by a member of staff, and may involve cutting-edge laboratory research, computer modelling, experience working with a company, or fieldwork in the UK or abroad.

All our degrees are based on the assumption that students will work a full working week (37.5 hours) during term time. Of this, we expect contact time with teaching staff to be about 12-18 hours, depending on degree scheme and module load. A typical first year Environmental Science student, for example, may expect to have 9 hours of lectures each week, along with two 3-hour afternoon practical sessions and a small-group tutorial.