Undergraduate tutorials were the best preparation for graduate study. Discussing essays in tutorials enabled me to construct strong, well-researched lines of arguments, helped me feel confident analysing and challenging data, and ensured that I was not afraid to argue my corner in larger graduate seminars.
Adam Ward (2011, PPE)
Tutorials are uniquely enriching not just for students, but also for tutors. When I first took up the position of History tutor at Exeter, the idea that I might be in a position of such responsibility was daunting: I remembered how much I had learned from my own tutors, not only about their subject specialisms, but also about how to think. I realised very quickly, however, that I would be learning just as much from the students as they might pick up from me. The fluidity and serendipity of the tutorial – a conversational form that follows the interests and ideas of those taking part – is part of its great joy. While I have a few ideas at the start of each session about the key ideas we need to cover, I can never predict where the discussion is going to go. It means that students can pursue their individual enthusiasms, and that tutors are constantly challenged to rethink their own perspective and ideas. My current work on the history of social mobility has certainly been enriched by discussing the sources I use with students who’ve offered new insights into my material. In return, I hope that they have learned something from me about how to think critically about what they read and how to argue convincingly for what they believe.
Professor Christina de Bellaigue, Jackson Fellow and Tutor in History