Good question! Okay, so I know those of you who are current students will already be well versed in what a seminar is and what they involve. However, reflecting back on the many prospective students I’ve talked to, this has been a really common question, and one that I did not know the answer to as a university applicant; it’s just presumed that we know what a seminar (specifically in film studies) is. So, I thought I’d do a quick post to go through a few points that you should know about seminars, to simply put your mind at ease as a prospective student!
Seminars are small classes, usually held shortly after your lecture (this could be the same day, a few hours apart, or within the next couple of days), with an average of around ten students in them, depending on how many people are taking the module and what year of study you are in. Seminars, in my experience, are usually 1-2 hours, and will be linked to the same topic as the weekly lecture for that module: e.g. you’re studying Contemporary Hollywood as a module and the topic of the week is 1980’s Reaganite cinema.
2.What Should You Bring:
Of course bring any notes you made in the lecture, and your prep notes (we’ll get to that), along with your pen and notebook/laptop or tablet to jot down anything else you think is important. (Note: Seminars are NOT voice recorded like most lectures are, however a slideshow, if used, will be available for you to look back over.) Other than that just bring yourself: super simple!
Prep notes? So, one of the most important parts of the seminar is discussing secondary sources. For each module you’ll be provided with a reading list, which includes a piece or two of required reading each week. This reading will be discussed in the seminar, so either take a copy of it in or make some notes when you’re reading it. I absolute recommend doing the reading even before the lecture, as it’s so useful when it comes to understanding some of the context and concepts being talked about. (Also, there is no shame in googling the meaning of tricky words or concepts in the reading, we all do it!)
4.At the Seminar:
Seminars are the chance for everyone to share their own opinion and ideas, and show what they’ve learned by talking about the reading and the film (you’ll usually watch a film in your lecture) in relation to the industrial or historical context. I cannot stress this enough: everyone is nervous but you are in a SAFE space! Speaking up can really help your confidence, and truly, for 99% of the questions you’ll get asked, there is no wrong answer. Don’t worry if you don’t have an answer for everything, but equally in that case be prepared for a few awkward silences; it’s okay, it happens, and your seminar tutor will help out if everyone struggling with a question. Have a go, and honestly, you’ll probably surprise yourself once you get talking; you’ll have understood far more than you think!
I hope this has given you the basic idea of what a seminar is, and what to expect on a regular basis. It really isn’t as different and new as it sounds, when you think about all the group work and study you’ll have done as part of your education so far. Of course this is a really brief overview so if you have any specific questions then feel free to drop me a comment below.
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!