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Learning from lectures: Home

You will get most out of your lectures if you prepare beforehand, listen actively and participate during the lecture, and review your notes soon afterwards. You will need to take well structured notes so try to identify the form of note taking that suits you best, early in your academic studies.

Before the lecture:

  • make sure you know how the lecture fits into the course as a whole
  • think about how it relates to your existing knowledge and revise notes from previous lectures which this one follows on from
  • do preliminary reading relevant to the topic
  • think of any questions you might want answered by the lecture
  • print off handouts and powerpoint slides if available
  • if you want to record the lecture get permission in advance

During the lecture:

  • sit somewhere where you will be able to concentrate
  • listen actively
  • look out for cue words indicating important points and structure
  • do not try to write down everything; instead take brief notes covering main themes and key arguments

After the lecture:

  • discuss any points you were not clear about with your lecturer or fellow students
  • read through and correct your notes soon after the lecture
  • review the recording of the lecture, if available - many lectures are now recorded and made available through the Blackboard site for the course
  • file your notes neatly along with other relevant material and a cover sheet

[click image for larger view]

Learning from lectures - mind map image

Lectures mind map.


You will find more detailed guides on preparing for lectures and note-taking in the resources listed on this page.

Lecturer image by Max Griboedov/Shutterstock (image ID:401859706). Image edited by Southampton University Library.



Related resources:

6 Habits for Highly Effective Students

Making the Most of Lectures and Seminars

Making the most of lectures by Bangor University.

Lecture Preparation by University of Staffordshire [PDF].