Teaching and assessment

Teaching system

Our teaching system is renowned across the world. We encourage our students to plan and manage their own work and study. This emphasis on independent study is excellent preparation for the self-motivation and discipline needed for graduate study.

You may find that you have fewer hours of teaching than you expected. You should use the remainder of your time to study in the library or work through your course reading list. It is important to establish a good working routine so that you use time effectively.

Independent study may be different from what you have experienced at home and it can take a while to adjust, but most students find they quickly adapt and thrive in this environment.

Teaching methods at Bristol

Teaching will include a combination of lectures, tutorials and smaller group seminars.

Seminars are small-group classes led by a tutor, where you will discuss parts of the course in detail. They complement lectures and help to monitor your progress. Science-based courses will include laboratory sessions and project groups.

You will be fully integrated into the University and study alongside British students.

It is important to use your time efficiently during study, so that material can be easily consolidated and learnt when it comes to revision. Here is some advice about how to get the most out of the different types of study activities.


We use a variety of assessment methods. This may include examinations, continuous assessment and coursework, such as long essays or dissertations.

Coursework, tutorials and seminars are used to monitor your progress and to assess the level of competence in a subject. 

Please be aware that some units may be assessed solely by one exam at the end of the semester. Regular homework and small pieces of assessed work are not common in the UK.

You are awarded credit points for successfully completing a unit. You will normally need to pass all forms of assessment in order to gain credits for a unit. Find out more about the credit point system at Bristol.

Please note that resits at Bristol are not possible on the Study Abroad and Erasmus programmes. Resits at Bristol are for the purposes of progression on a degree programme or to secure an award. Your degree programme is owned by your home university and they make all decisions around progression or graduation.


Learning independently

Independent learning is a key part of academic life at Bristol. It will challenge your motivation and dedication, while developing your organisational and time management skills.

Being an independent learner means being active in your learning and taking responsibility for your workload, commitments and deadlines, and when mastered it will be the key to success in your studies. Here are some tips for mastering independent learning.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Find out our plans for teaching in 2021/22.

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