Seminar Discussion Skills (SDS)

This in-person course will help practise the language you need to participate more confidently in seminars.

Course Content and Unit Aims

Session 1:

Exploring academic culture

Discuss the purpose of seminars and academic discussion at UK universities.

Discuss the expectations of the students’ and tutor’s roles in academic discussion.

Practise maintaining cohesion in discussion.


Session 2:

Asking focused questions

Practise asking and responding to questions effectively by focusing the question, checking comprehension, and requesting further information or clarification.

Explain your own area of study and find out about your colleagues’ studies.


Session 3:

Referring to sources

Focus on critical thinking.

Practise turning a general discussion into an academic discussion by using evidence to support ideas.


Session 4:

Structuring your ideas

Practise techniques to help you structure and develop your contribution to seminars and academic discussion.

Review the course.


Course Days/times (all courses 4 weeks)

  • Tuesday 11:00 – 13:00 Holyrood Campus
  • Tuesday 14:00 – 16:00 Central Campus
  • Wednesday 15:00 – 17:00 Holyrood Campus
  • Thursday 14:00 – 16:00 Central Campus
  • Friday 11:00 – 13:00 Central Campus


Teaching Methods and Learning Outcomes

Participating in an academic discussion at university may seem daunting, but the main issue for many students is often a lack of confidence. The aim of this course is therefore not to add to your course reading workload, but to use accessible topics to increase your confidence in your own ability to participate in an academic discussion. An academic discussion session on your degree programme may be a seminar, a formal lecture with Q&A, a workshop, a tutorial or an interactive teaching session, but regardless of the form it takes, participation will always be expected.

This four-part course will be delivered in-person and offers a session once a week of 1hr 50mins.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, you will have had focused practice in and should have gained greater confidence in:

  1. Understanding the purpose of seminars and academic discussion at UK universities.
  2. Clarifying the purpose of questions in seminar discussion.
  3. Using evidence to support contributions to academic discussion.
  4. Maintaining structure and cohesion in academic discussion.
  5. Applying the above to their own field of study.



All Undergraduate or Postgraduate students currently studying at the University of Edinburgh.


Applications are now open. 

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