Studying Effectively

Laboratory and practical classes

In many Science and Engineering disciplines students spend considerable parts of their time doing a wide range of practical or laboratory work. Here the learning is very 'hands on' and classes are designed to allow students to practise and develop a wide range of discipline-based techniques and personal skills.

Depending on the discipline and the topic, specific purposes will vary but they may include -

  • Providing an opportunity to apply and investigate theoretical and conceptual knowledge
  • Developing a range of experimental techniques and approaches
  • Improving skills in collecting, analysing, interpreting and presenting findings and data
  • Practising a wide range of personal and transferable skills such as problem solving, team working, observing and following protocols
  • Learning how to manage resources (including time)
  • Working more effectively and safely in a laboratory or in the field.

In many courses, lectures and practicals are integrated with the view that theory can be explained in the lecture and then applied and tested in the practical class. It is therefore important that you are clear when a practical class has been designed to complement material that has been presented in a lecture.

The high value placed on skills learned in labs and practical classes goes beyond your university course. Future employers will be very interested in the skills you can display from having been active in laboratory classes and practicals, as well as the knowledge and understanding that you have attained during your degree.

Student in laboratory


Further reading


Being organised

Studying at university

Reading and interpreting sources and data

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

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