The A-Z of university classes

Transitioning into uni life can sometimes feel like a challenging process, especially when it comes to sorting out your classes. The style of classes you will take are often very different to those in high school or TAFE. We understand it may be confusing when your timetable displays a mix of workshops, lectures, labs, tutorials and seminars. So, to help wrap your head around it, here’s a brief description of the different types of classes offered at the University of Newcastle.


A lecture is a class that will be delivered as an oral presentation by your lecturer to teach you about the particular subject. Lectures are used to provide you with critical information related to the subject’s history, background, theories or even equations. It is typically a bigger class held in a lecture type theatre or hall and can go for one to three hours.

Lectures may include the use of handouts, overhead slides and audio-visual presentations. This class is where you will take all your notes from the lecture slides, and generally bringing your textbook to lectures isn’t necessary unless specified by your lecturer.


Tutorials are smaller classes and less formal than a lecture. Here you will get the opportunity to ask questions, understand what you’ve learnt in your lecture on a deeper and more practical level. You should bring your textbook to this class unless your tutor states otherwise.

These classes typically go for one to two hours and hold a class capacity between 25 and 30 students.

Your tutorials will enable you to complete activities, develop specific skills and discuss any problems you’re having with the subject with your tutor.

Computer Labs

Some of your classes may require you attend a computer lab style of class. This may be due to the computers complementing the practical component of the class or require you to use a specific program (e.g. Adobe Photoshop).

These classes run for one to two hours and hold 15 to 30 students similar to a tutorial. It is more practical than a tutorial as you will be required to work through activities on a computer.


For those enrolled in the Science and Engineering disciplines, it is very common to have laboratory, aka ‘lab’ classes. These hands-on style classes give you the chance to actively apply the theory you’ve learnt in a practical setting. This can involve conducting experiments and performing other research exercises independently or in small groups.

It is expected that you will take notes of your methodology and results, detailing these in a lab book or log.

Labs can range from 3 to 4 hours, so make sure you come prepared. Any equipment you will require such as lab coats and safety glasses should be included in the Course Outline for that subject.

Workshops and Seminars

These class styles are an integrated style of learning. A seminar is of a larger capacity and is generally a casual discussion about topics.

A workshop is a lecture and tutorial blended into 2 hours. There may be a mini lecture or brief overview at the beginning of your class and then the remaining time is for you to work through exercises either singularly or in a small group format.

Hopefully you now have some clarity about the different styles of classes offered here at our University. Please note the courses which you are in enrolled determines which types of classes you’ll take for that subject.

Good luck with your studies folks!

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