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Teaching and learning

As a York student, you’ll be taught by world‐leading academics who design our courses to inspire and support you to graduation and beyond. Our distinctive approach to teaching and learning will challenge you to think independently and immerse you in knowledge and opportunities that will encourage you to grow and excel in all that you do.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide unique learning outcomes so that you get the most from your time here, whether you're working with academic staff or studying on your own. At every stage you'll understand what you're aiming for and why. Our innovative approach ensures that you have the skills and knowledge in place to progress confidently towards a graduate career or further study.

Learning outcomes

Each course has its own set of unique learning outcomes. These give you a clear description of what you can expect to be able to do when you graduate and will help you explain what you can offer to employers.

Our academics design each course so that you have the best opportunities to build your knowledge, develop your abilities and progress towards the outcomes. You’ll understand what work you need to do and how it helps you to meet each outcome.

You’ll get the guidance you need from your tutors and academic supervisor, and through assessment and feedback, such as exams, coursework, projects and group work.

Research-led teaching

York is a Russell Group university and one of the world’s premier institutions for inspirational and life-changing research. This feeds directly into the teaching you'll receive.

"York helped me to develop my critical thinking and analytical skills in a creative environment with state-of-the-art facilities. My training also helped me become an independent researcher and prepared me for my current role"

Dr Wei He, Lecturer in the Department of Biology, Northwest University, Xian, China (PhD Biology, 2012)

Meet our researchers

Meet some of our researchers and find out how they pass on their knowledge and expertise directly into the teaching you'll receive.

York is ranked 10th out of 155 higher education institutions for research impact (excluding all institutes that have submitted in three or less units of assessment). Read more about how the government assesses our research. 

Professor Nicky Milner

Independent thinking

Professor Nicky Milner, who teaches in the Department of Archaeology, is a director of the world-leading Star Carr project in the north of England. The project's recent excavations have uncovered evidence of a thriving Mesolithic settlement dating from around 9000 BC.

Our undergraduates have written dissertations using data generated from the excavations, which has given them the experience of working in a research team and generating their own original research.

"At York you're not just taught by the people that wrote the book but encouraged to think with an independent mind."

Joshua, BA Education

Techniques in the field

Dr James Chong is a senior lecturer in the Department of Biology.

His research focuses on exploiting the microbial communities found in unusual environments for biotechnological applications.

So he’s often found encouraging his students to use a range of techniques such as exploring Antarctic seawater, cow manure, wastewater sludge and the university lake.

Dr James Chong

"I secured a job with McLaren before graduation. As part of the interview process I was asked to supply a portfolio of embedded systems work. It was drawn from projects completed during my degree and demonstrated the knowledge and skills I gained on the course.”

Phil Greenland Software Engineer, McLaren Applied Technologies (MEng Computer Science with Embedded Systems Engineering, 2013)​

Dr Andy Marshall

Analysing issues

Dr Andy Marshall, a Senior Lecturer in the Environment Department, combines teaching and research with his role as Director of Conservation Science at Flamingo Land Resort zoo.

Through his research, students have had the opportunity to explore issues as diverse as tropical forest ecology, biodiversity conservation planning, science communication, and the impact of zoos on animal conservation and welfare.

Original research

How humans interact with each other in conversation is the focus of research by senior lecturer Dr Merran Toerien of the Department of Sociology.

She uses recordings made in settings as varied as jobcentres, neurology clinics and beauty salons to illustrate the modules she teaches on conversation analysis.

Dr Merran Toerien

"What’s great about York is that the teaching staff will push you to think in a critical way; to question everything and form your own opinions based on research."

Katie, BA French & Linguistics

Flexible course options

You can focus on topics that particularly interest you, or fit your career plans, with York’s wide range of degrees.

Your course will include compulsory (core) and optional modules. The balance of core and optional modules varies from course to course and year to year. In some cases you can choose optional modules from other courses.

If you're interested in studying more than one subject, you could take a combined course, for example Politics and Philosophy, or Maths and Physics.

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Tailored teaching styles

Our high quality teaching, learning and student outcomes have been recognised by a Silver ranking in the Teaching Excellence Framework 2017, meaning we consistently exceed rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.

We tailor our teaching to the demands of individual subjects. You may attend a mix of small group tutorials, larger group seminars and lectures. The balance of the different teaching and learning methods varies from course to course.

Many modules feature online resources and out-of-classroom, self-directed learning materials supported by our virtual learning environment (VLE). 

Multiple assessment

Your work will be assessed by a range of methods such as examinations, coursework, open papers, extended essay papers and project work. In some cases, you may be assessed on oral contributions in tutorials.

"My seminars were small discussion-based sessions and offered the opportunity for students to clarify ideas and delve deeper into topics and for interaction between students and academics."

Laurie, BA Politics, Economics and Philosophy

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