Teaching and Tutorial System

  • The method of teaching at Oxford is one of the most unique and renowned in the world, making particularly strong use of tutorials. These involve small numbers of students (usually between 2 and 4) meeting with tutors to discuss work (often an essay - or, in US terminology, a 'paper') which has been prepared specifically for that tutorial.

  • Tutorials have acquired their reputation because of the close relationship they foster between the tutor and the student, while they are also particularly beneficial for developing skills of critical analysis.

  • Rather than being occasions to demonstrate that students can repeat what they have read or taught, tutorials often require students critiquing primary and secondary literature and defending an argument while the tutor plays the role of devil's advocate. A great advantage of the tutorial system is the individual attention that students receive.

  • The contrast between tutorials and large lectures common in US universities is obvious, and students have the opportunity to explore their own ideas directly with experts in particular subjects. These may be Fellows of Pembroke or other colleges, as well as College lecturers.

  • Our long experience of Visiting Students at Pembroke means that we are well aware that adjustment to the Oxford system, and to the regular writing of essays, takes time. However, we are repeatedly impressed at how quickly Visiting Students make this adjustment, and just how many tell us that they thrive on the experience.

  • While tutorials often form the backbone of teaching in Oxford, they are also supported by lectures which are conducted on a University wide basis, College classes (often of groups of perhaps 10 students), and (in the sciences) lab work.

  • Visiting Students at Pembroke have full rights to access all University facilities and attend lectures and libraries.