How to Get the Best Out of a PhD Tutorial

As a PhD student you are likely to get at least two kinds of meetings that might be defined as a tutorial. You should, of course, have regular meetings with your supervisor, and these include some tutorial-like elements. Your academic department may also organise tutorials, with a group of fellow PhD students, focusing on the research process and methodological issues.  These are valuable opportunities to help you mature as an academic and a researcher, and the more you can get out of them the better. Here is how to get make the most of these tutorials:

  1. Be prepared. Try to do any prescribed reading in advance and make notes of any questions or issues you would like to discuss. Do more than the bare minimum, and read around the topic.
  2. Be organised. Having a clear set of notes specifically designed to facilitate the tutorial is important for all participants, regardless of whether the tutor or the tutee.
  3. Try to give yourself ten to fifteen minutes just before the tutorial to focus your thoughts and run though any notes you have made. This will help to avoid wasting time at the start of the tutorial.
  4. Participate. You will learn far more, and it will help you to develop your skills of comprehension, reasoning and speaking if you actively engage with the debate. Try to help the tutor turn the tutorial into a discussion rather than allow it to sink into a question and answer session. You will get more out of it, and it will be more enjoyable.
  5. Engage both with the tutor and your fellow students. Try to identify counter arguments to their suggestions, even if you are only playing devil’s advocate.
  6. Don’t try to take copious notes as this will distract you from engaging in the discussions. Simply make a short note to remind you, and expand on it after the tutorial has finished.
  7. Finally, if you have a question – ask it.


If you find that you are in need of additional support to help you through your PhD, the PhD Consultancy offers a comprehensive tutorial service.