Teaching Methods

All our staff are active scientific researchers. We have 15 staff teaching for us. We do not use external sessional lecturers. All our staff are based in central London and attend training and curriculum meetings to try to ensure the highest standards of teaching. We have provided university degrees for well-over 100 years (we think since 1834!) and so have vast experience to draw on. Our teaching methods are tailored to suit mature students who work for a living – click here to read some testimonials from our students >>

To gain a degree in 4 years you would need to study about 15 hours per week in the introductory years (11 weeks September-December and then 11 weeks January to March with exams in May – June). In advanced years you would be moving up to about 20 hours for these weeks. The 15 or 20 hours is broken down into 3 lots of 3 hours, in other words 3 modules of 15 credits each per 11 week slot with 3 hours per module per week – the extra hours would be spent doing homework and reading. 6-year degrees have lower workloads. Certificates involve 2 modules per 11 week slot, so about 6 hours studying the courses plus a few hours or homeworks. 

We teach through face-to-face classes in central London that are captured on video and streamed on the internet. Some students study entirely through watching the videos, never visiting London. Other students mix (often on a weekly basis) face-to-face attendance in London with using the videos (this does not affect the fee so you can attend on one evening and study via videos on another etcetera). Distance learning students study in the same weeks as face-to-face students so assessed work for both cohorts are synchronised in time. Videos are posted on the website the morning following the face-to-face lecture, with some videos streamed live. All videos can be watched on computers, but all videos are also formatted to watch on mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. All lectures and practicals are supported by digital lecture notes (also available for iPhones etc.) and an electronic library. Residential field classes are available to all students allowing face-to-face contact with staff. We also run Saturday sessions face-to-face in London which are captured on video where requested to allow students to visit our teaching labs for study outside of their particular working hours.

Each module has a web-page that provides the following:

1) Video coverage of the face-to-face lectures that occur in central London. This is typically 10 one-hour long videos per 15 credit module (360 credits to get a degree). The videos show the lecturer and slide presentation plus views of the face-to-face students and zoom-ins on the white board where extra diagrams and notes are provided by the lecturers. Typically, students have the video streaming in one window on their computer whilst viewing the digital lecture notes in another window.

2) Video coverage of the face-to-face practicals that occur in central London. This is typically 10 thirty minute long videos per 15 credit module (360 credits to get a degree). These involve videos covering a variety of topics such as close-up videos of tutors demonstrating how to interpret geological maps, examining rocks, minerals of fossils, videos taken down microscopes to show how to identify minerals and rock types, and videos to show use of software to plots graphs, produce graphics for reports and maps, or analysis of remotely-sensed data. We also use “collaborate” software that allows us to share our desktops with students over the internet with a live video feed of the lecturer so we can teach them how to use software such as graphics packages, chemistry analytical software, and spreadsheets.

3) Digital lecture notes and practical notes are provided with full text of the lectures, photographs, maps, diagrams and data for analysis in practicals. Some have embedded video files, for example, videos showing a lecturer plotting data by hand on graph paper or stereonets, or examining a rock or mineral. These digital notes are provided as pdf files and work on all common platforms.

4) Links to the electronic library are provided so you can access the latest research articles from scientific journals (over 1000 journals are accessible). These are provided as pdf files. Students will need to purchase some textbooks for the 1st year classes, but the vast majority of advanced level material is from journal research articles downloadable from the electronic library.

5) An internet forum is provided so students can and staff can contact each other by posting discussion topics.

6) Contact details for the lecturer are available and it is common to have telephone, email or Skype conversations (it is much more rewarding for the lecturers if we can get to know the students a little, so we encourage this).

7) Sample exam questions are provided through the electronic library.

8) Turn it in software is provided for electronic submission of assessed course work which is checked for plagiarism.

9) Residential fieldclasses support the taught material.