Studying Effectively

Student-led seminars

During your time at the University of Nottingham it is likely that you will be called upon to 'lead' a seminar. Formats do vary from course to course but this commonly involves giving some kind of presentation to a small group of peers on a given topic or subject. In some cases you will be assigned a topic whilst on others there may be a degree of choice. Examples of topics may include discussion of a research article, a selected text or source, or a review of current thinking in your discipline.

Some seminars may be structured in the format of a debate, where one or more students need to initiate a discussion on the presentation topics with other students. The student(s) leading the seminar may be required to take a particular stance. This can help hone skills in critical analysis as you may not always be defending an argument or issue that you support.

In some schools, seminars are assessed and contribute to coursework marks whilst in others this is not the case. Check whether seminar participation and presentations are part of your assessed coursework, and where possible look at the marking criteria being used to assess your contribution and performance. However, even if seminar work is not formally assessed as part of your coursework, student-led seminars can be extremely important.

Remember that being engaged in discussions about your subject with your peers - your fellow students - can be a key way of learning, developing your understanding and improving your oral communication skills.

How to lead a good seminar

Being well-prepared is central to giving an effective presentation or leading a seminar discussion. Although you may feel nervous, there are ways of positively using the energy that adrenalin can provide.

Your module tutor may provide specific guidance about what is expected from your seminar presentation, and may give you tips on how to prepare, or even on the format you need to use to present on the topic. Please follow such guidance carefully.

Pay particular attention to the timing allocated. For example, students may be asked to give a 10 minute presentation and then lead a discussion for a further 10 minutes. Time-keeping is a transferable skills and therefore may be part of what you are learning.

Preparation, practice and discussion in advance about how you will present the session can help avoid over-running the time allocated to you. 

Student-led seminar


Further reading

Preparing for assessment

Reading and interpreting sources and data 

Studying at university

Being organised


  • Presentations and posters

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

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