CSM Student and staff handbook

2.1 Styles of learning: how to study effectively at CSM

2.2 Conventional Modes of Teaching and Learning


2 Learning, teaching and resources


2.1 Styles of learning: how to study effectively at CSM

Successful study at university depends on two factors: (1) your lecturer and (2) you, the student. For the vast majority of students, a university represents a learning environment with a new, and often unfamiliar, set of challenges. You therefore need to adapt your study techniques from those you used while at school.

Your previous formal educational experience will typically have been mainly in an environment where teachers were almost always readily available to you, and spent most of their time teaching you. This is not the case at university. Teaching is vitally important to all lecturers and we are fully committed to delivering highest quality teaching. You will soon notice, however, that your lecturers do not spend as much time teaching as your teachers did at school because it is only one component of their job. Research and administration duties that they also undertake are equally vital to CSM, the University and in maintaining the quality of the student experience.

Our goal is to provide you with a world-class environment in which to learn, to instil in you a life-long love of learning, to stimulate creativity, leadership, the ability to work with others, and to help you develop as independent analytical learners, capable of thinking for yourselves. At university we say ‘you read for a degree’. This means that if you want to obtain the best learning experience, and be amongst the most employable of graduates, you also need to take responsibility for your own learning.

A lecturer’s role is to stimulate learning through guidance and advice. They will do this in two main ways:

  • Impart knowledge upon you in lectures, practical sessions and field classes,
  • Set activities (during lectures or practical sessions) or assignments that help you develop skills you need to apply to that knowledge to solve a problem or an unknown.

The student’s role is to be an active learner by:

  • Working  through lecture / practical / field class content, plus associated recommended resources, in their own independent study time (before and after the class) so that they understand it,
  • Undertaking tasks and assignments independently.


 2.2  Conventional Modes of Teaching and Learning

Learning in CSM is commonly made up of the following different elements:

  • Lectures - an academic staff member talks about a subject and the students listen; there will likely be interaction,
  • Practical sessions - guided practical activities,
  • Field classes – where hands-on skills-orientated teaching happens at the outcrop or in a mine
  • Seminars - students play an active role and discuss ideas together,
  • Tutorials - detailed work is discussed in a small-group context,
  • Independent study.

Many of these elements will be supported, for each module, within the corresponding ELE (Exeter Learning Environment) webpages (click here) where you can find out everything about a module; see Section 2.4.2 for a full description of the ELE resource.


Lecturing style varies within CSM, from one lecturer to another. Some lecturers provide a subject overview and expect you to work independently, via guidance through reading lists, to understand the detail. This approach provides you mainly with factual information and the basis for self-directed higher-level understanding. Other lecturers will also involve the students in the class, provoking discussion based on factual content. Some lecturers will make use of online quizzes that you can undertake in your own time, following a lecture, to test whether you have understood lecture content and to highlight what you need to revise for the module's associated theory examination. Regardless, lectures are never intended to represent all your study and you should never leave a lecture thinking your job is done. The lecture represents the start of your learning on a subject. It is a stimulant for further private guided or self-directed study where you consolidate and improve on your understanding based on the lecture. If you do not embrace this second important aspect of university education (which sets it apart from a school education), you will not develop sufficently to develop the critical mind of an independent thinker (which is what the highest-paying employers look for).

  • Before a lecture, examine the relevant content on the module's ELE page. Download the PowerPoint slides and any associated lecture notes and print them out before the lecture. If you cannot find what you want, email the lecturer.
  • During the lecture, listen actively and take notes, even if the lecturer provides you with printed notes. By doing this you are far more like to take on board what the lecturer says. This is because the main skill in note taking involves thinking about what is being said and then selecting the main points to write down.

Since listening and writing at the same time can be a challenge, your lecture notes will need revision through subsequent consolidation. This should be done as soon as possible following the lecture while you can still recall the lecture content. If you do this your job well it will be relatively easy when you come to revise for your exams. If you do not do this, you will likely struggle to revise effectively when the time comes.

  • Following a lecture, you will need to rewrite your notes,
  • First, go through your notes to check they make sense,
  • Identify key points and focus on understanding those. The key points can be identified by looking at the lecture aims and learning outcomes. These summarise what you need to know for the module's theory examination. They therefore double up as guidance for your revision.
  • Follow-up reading will usually be necessary before you rewrite your notes. Use the associated lecture reading list as a starting point,
  • Combine and condense your lecture notes with those made from wider reading,
  • File your consolidated notes for every lecture in a logical (e.g. chronological) order.


Each week teaching on CSM modules  typically involve a formal lecture and an associated practical laboratory session. There are many aspects of practice that can best be taught through the use of practical sessions. These usually involve a short introductory talk on a particular topic followed by a directed exercise. Many elements will be developed during 'hands-on' CSM practical classes, mostly carried out in the Engineering Laboratory (Room 3.030), the Geology Teaching Laboratory (Room 3.028) or the Computer Suite (Room 3.037).

Field classes

Fieldwork is one of the keystones of geology and mining education and CSM provides opportunities for fieldwork in the local area, across Britain and abroad. It is delivered within formal taught modules throughout your degree programme. The planned fieldwork schedule for next academic year is shown in Tables 4 and 5 below.

To participate fully in CSM’s field classes, you need appropriate clothing for all weather conditions you will likely encounter. CSM Geology students must also have suitable geological field equipment to measure and record geological data. We will provide detailed briefings about the required equipment in Welcome Week.

Mining Engineering students will need (*provided by CSM): a safety helmet (*), high visibility jacket (*) and a rucksack to carry your equipment in and warm and waterproof clothing.

Geology students will need (*provided by CSM): a safety helmet (*), high visibility jacket (*) and a rucksack to carry your equipment in, warm and waterproof clothing, a field notebook (*), hand lens (*), compass clinometer (*), mapping board, 3 m tape measure, 0.3 mm pencils, mapping pens and colouring pencils. We also recommend that a camera (smart phone), GPS (smart phone) and a thermos flask are very useful items of additional equipment.

It is your responsibility to source replacements for any field equipment that CSM provides you with at the start of Year 1. Additional ‘rite in the rain’ field notebooks, and stationary, can be bought in the Penryn Campus shop.


Table 4. Principal Mining Engineering fieldwork commitments

Year 1

Visit to locally based mines and quarries within Cornwall and Devon during Opportunities Week 6 (CSM1029)

5 Day Mining Induction Course held at CSM Test Mine

Year 2

Summer Survey Course based at the Penryn Campus (x2 weeks) and Underground

Survey Course (x1 week) (CSM2180)

Year 3

Minimum 8 week's Vacation Experience based at an extractive industries site (CSM3042)

Week long Industrial Tour to Sweden and Finland, SANDVIK (CSM3042)

Year 4 Week long Industrial Tour of UK-based mine automation sites (CSMM418)


Table 5. Principal Geology fieldwork commitments

Year 1

Term 1: one-day fieldclasses (x3 days) plus orienteering exercise (2 hrs) during Opportunties Week 6 (CSM1036)

Term 2: Friday one-day fieldclasses (x5 days + one assessed fieldclass) plus x1 3-hour virtual graphic logging exercise (CSM1036)          

Pembrokeshire residential fieldclass (x6 days), earliest May (CSM1036)                                            

Summer Survey Course on Penryn Campus (two weeks), starting late May (CSM2184)

Year 2

Term 1: Dorset residential fieldclass (x6 days) during Activities Week 5 (CSM2183)                                                   

Term 2: one-day fieldclasses (x5 days + one assessed fieldclass) during Terms 1 and 2                                                     

Skye residential fieldclass (x8 days), Easter Vacation, April (CSM2184)

Year 3

Summer Vacation Project (at least 28 days) between June-September (CSM3379)                         

Activities Week 5 - core logging and geological mine mapping (x2.5 days) (CSM3046/CSM3151) 

SE Spain residential fieldclass (x9 days), Easter Vacation, April (CSM3348)                                           

Geophysics (x2 days), February (CSM3151)

Year 4      Tenerife residential fieldclass, summer between Year 3 and 4 (CSMM423)


IT Suites and Resources


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