How We Teach

The Cambridge system is unique, and we teach in many ways, so you benefit from a rich combination of methods: from the intimacy of small group 'supervisions', to medium-sized seminar discussions, and larger lectures. We are proud of our commitment to teaching, and love working with our students as they develop their ideas.


Each student has a director of studies who arranges weekly ‘supervisions’ in small groups, typically in pairs. The supervisions are led by lecturers, professors, and advanced PhD students who specialise in the area that you are studying – so you could find yourself discussing John Milton's poetry one-to-one with somebody who has just published a book on it. You will typically write a short essay for each supervision, which you will discuss, as well as considering the topic in general. This is an exciting form of teaching: intensive, exploratory and led by you. It offers potentially the most stimulating kind of education there is.

On the Faculty web site, you will find information about the academics who teach English here at the University. We come from a variety of backgrounds within the UK and abroad - as do our students. We are united by our love of literature and our commitment to sharing that love through our teaching and research.  


The Faculty puts on lectures which support your studies. There are no compulsory lectures, and you are free to attend lectures on any areas that interest you as well as those close to your current supervision topics. You could take a course which surveyed the background to many works – say, one lecturer sketching twentieth century attitudes to political change. Or several lecturers might offer ideas and information about one key work or subject – for example, four views on transatlantic conversations between twentieth-century writers. Lectures illuminate the whole subject panoramically and light up more focused intellectual passions.


The faculty also runs seminars to extend your work on particular subjects, such as Shakespeare. Especially rewarding are the third-year seminars organised for students taking optional courses, in subjects such as Contemporary Writing, or Postcolonial and Related Literatures, or The History and Theory of Literary Criticism, in which small groups of students who have chosen to specialize in the field in question come together to discuss shared reading with the lecturers, and give presentations of their own.