Lectures, Classes and Seminars
The Lecture List, which covers all teaching offered by the University for the whole academic year, is on sale in Cambridge bookshops at the beginning of Michaelmas Term. From the Lecture List you can also find out about lectures in other Faculties (e.g. Archaeology and Anthropology, History, or Modern and Medieval Languages) which might meet your particular needs and interests. You are free to attend any of the advertised lectures in the University.
Lectures always start on the first Thursday of Full Term, and the first week of lectures runs from that Thursday to the following Wednesday. Courses of weekly lectures scheduled for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday begin after courses of lectures scheduled for Thursday or Friday. So, in the Michaelmas Term 2006, a lecture course scheduled for Wednesday at 11.00 began not on Wednesday 4 October but on Wednesday 11 October. There are eight weeks of lectures and the second half of term thus began on Thursday 2 November. All of this matters because you need to work out with particular care the exact date on which courses advertised for the second half of term actually begin.
The Lecture List gives details of all forms of departmental teaching (lectures, classes, workshops, seminars, etc.) provided for each course. When you have made your choice of papers, you should draw up a weekly timetable of your lectures, etc., and decide how to organise your life around them. Your workload of lectures, etc., in Part I will be greater (between 10 and 15 hours per week) than your workload in Part II (between 5 and 10 hours per week), since it is in the nature of Part II that a greater proportion of your time during term is devoted to private study.
To find out where a Faculty lecture or class is to be given, you need to consult the free-standing boards immediately outside the Lecture Block on the Sidgwick site, on the day in question. Arrive ten minutes before the first lecture you wish to attend; you will easily find the boards, as they will be surrounded by a crowd of students and lecturers. All the teaching for the particular day is listed on a notice under the heading 'Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic'. You need simply identify the name of the lecturer, and the time when s/he is due to perform, and the location (building/room number) will be indicated at the intersection. Lectures could be almost anywhere on the Sidgwick site, so it is important to be familiar with the layout of the site as a whole.
Weekly changes or cancellations due to illness or other cause are indicated on the Custodian’s whiteboard in front of the Lecture Block. If lectures or classes are not being held on the Sidgwick site, their location will be indicated in the Lecture List. Where possible, the Departmental Secretary will notify students via email of changes to the timetable or cancelled lectures.
Attendance at lectures, etc.
The teaching organised by the Department is an essential aspect of your course of study. Attendance should not be regarded as optional, as appears to be the case in some other Triposes, and indeed is best regarded as compulsory. The teachers will provide information, elucidation, and argumentation, most of which will not be found in books or articles. They will introduce you to unfamiliar material, and will be trying to convey some sense of their own enthusiasm for the subject. They will give you documentation for the course, including useful handouts. You may have to miss a lecture or two through illness or other grave cause, but try not to miss any more. The usual reasons, such as oversleeping, an essay-writing crisis, a social engagement, or some other commitment, are never compelling. Failure to attend lectures may put you at a serious disadvantage when it comes to preparing for your examinations. Do not rely on others to attend lectures on your behalf; copying other people’s lecture notes is no substitute for being present yourself.
A certain amount of preparation for Departmental teaching is both expected and required. In the case of language classes, an amount of preparation of set texts will have to be undertaken each week (and you will be expected to translate in class and to comment on aspects of the text). In the case of lectures, the greatest benefit is obtained when some preliminary reading has been undertaken on the topic of the lecture.
Taking notes on lectures is a matter for individual judgement. Do not write down so much that you have no time to attend to what is being said; better to concentrate on the main headings of discussion or the salient points being made (which a good lecturer will emphasise), so that the outline is clear. Make use of handouts to save on note-taking (e.g. by referring to ‘handout example 3’ in your notes, or by annotating the handouts).
In classes and seminars, you should ask at once for clarification of any point which you do not understand; in lectures, it may be best to wait until the end of the lecture. Don’t be afraid to voice your uncertainties: others may well feel similar uncertainties, and will be grateful to you for speaking up.
In the case of seminars, topics for discussion are specified weekly, and bibliographies provided. It may be that you will be asked to prepare a short account of a particular subject; in which case you should prepare a clear and concise written text, and ensure that it is properly timed (ten or fifteen minutes, depending of the nature of the seminar). It is for some an intimidating experience; but have no fear, for no-one is going to take you apart. Any one of your teachers will be happy to give you advice and encouragement; and you should compare notes with your fellow-students. Above all, you should try to participate in the general discussion, and should not feel embarrassed to ask questions.