Teaching and learning

Whether you have just finished school, are studying with a UK university for the first time, or are returning to studies after some time out, it is likely that you will find studying at the University of Birmingham Dubai different to what you have experienced before.

University level study expects you to be independent and take ownership of your studies. You will take what you have been taught and apply your own perspectives, thought and research to create original work. There are many areas where there is no 'correct' answer and you will be encouraged to develop your own ideas and opinions on a topic.

Starting university is a time of transition for all students. It may be your first time studying in higher education, you may be studying a new subject, and it may be the first time you have lived independently. It is natural that it will take some time for you to settle into your studies, and we will support you through this transition. 

Methods of teaching

University courses are taught in different ways, and you will likely experience a mixture of methods during your degree, depending on the discipline, the number of students involved, and how it is assessed.

You may have less face-to-face contact time with lecturers or tutors than you may have had at school or in previous studies. You will have time for independent study which you should use to prepare for your classes, review material and readings from your previous classes, prepare for assignments, or simply take time to extend your reading around your subject.

We maintain an average student to academic staff ratio of 20:1 or better across all programmes. 

Your induction sessions during Welcome Week will introduce you to your programme, and you will find out more about the ways in which you will learn and how you will be assessed.


Lectures are likely to be one of the main forms of teaching that you will have. Lectures will usually be led by an academic member of staff and will focus on a particular topic. They may give a presentation during which you will take notes.

Many lectures will involve opportunities for you to discuss ideas with other students and the lecturer, or to ask questions. You may also have some activities to complete. The lecturer may ask you to complete some reading or an activity before the lecture, and ask you to share your thoughts.

Tutorials or seminars

Tutorials or seminars are usually for a smaller group of students than lectures. They are usually led by an academic member of staff, but offer an opportunity for a more informal discussion. You may be asked to complete an activity or undertake some reading, and present your ideas to the rest of the group. You will generally be expected to share your own thoughts and findings, and discuss or debate these with other students.

Laboratory or practical sessions

Many engineering courses will involve practical sessions, which may be based in a laboratory. These allow you to practice techniques and methods you have learnt about, and put your knowledge into practice in a more real-life situation. You may work in groups, pairs, or individually and your work in the laboratory may form part of your assessment.

Courses such as Education may involve a placement, where you are able to gain experience and practice what you have learnt in real life. As you progress, you may take on more responsibility in your placement, and may have chance to practice particular skills or experience particular situations. You may be asked to reflect on your experiences as part of your studies.

Virtual learning environment

As a student you will use Canvas, our virtual learning environment, alongside your face-to-face studies. On Canvas, you will find a range of resources and materials which support your learning, including reading, links to articles and information, videos and recordings, and other media. You may be asked to take part in an online discussion or complete activities online to check your understanding of topics or to explore new areas. You may use it before or after teaching sessions to prepare and reinforce what you have explored in lectures and seminars or tutorials.

Beyond your programme

Whilst at University, you will have opportunities to work with students studying on other programmes and disciplines on challenges to develop solutions to global issues. The Dubai Big Ideas Challenge gives you the chance to work with students across the University, breaking barriers and kick-starting your career.

You will also be able to access careers support to help you explore your next steps and develop the skills you need to get there. You can access study skills support to help you do the best that you can.