Contacting academic staff

Your lecturers and tutors are there to help you understand your subject and what you have to do to meet the assessment requirements. They want to help you enjoy the subject and do well in it and are very open to being contacted by students with questions and concerns. They also know about other services in the university where you can receive assistance, and they can steer you in the right direction.

When should I contact my lecturers or tutors?

Students may need to contact their lecturers or tutors for a wide range of reasons. Some common reasons:

  • To clarify your understanding about the subject
  • You do not understand the content of a particular lecture
  • To check your understanding of an assessment task; for example, is your interpretation of an essay question on the right track?
  • You have missed some tutorials and lectures and need to catch up
  • You are having trouble getting started on an essay
  • You are having personal problems and finding it difficult to attend classes or to get your assignments done
  • You need an extension.

Whatever your reasons for contacting them, your lecturers and tutors are there to assist you.

Who should I contact first? Lecturers or tutors?

Usually you should contact your tutors first. Your tutors know you best, and will know most answers to the questions that you ask. At times, for example, a long assignment extension, the tutor may refer you to the lecturer.

If you need to speak directly to your lecturers on any matter, don't hesitate to make contact.

How should I contact my lecturers or tutors?

Lecturers and tutors usually have certain set times during the week when they are available for one-on-one meetings with students. At the beginning of semester they will let you know how to make a time to see them. Some lecturers and tutors prefer you to email them to arrange a meeting and others may have a sheet on their office door where you can write your name beside a certain time.

Check with the department in which the subject is offered if you aren't sure how to contact your lecturer or tutor.

Should I use email to contact my lecturer or tutor?

Most lecturers and tutors prefer to be contacted initially by email. They will usually let you know at the beginning of semester if you can contact them by email and how long it will generally take them to reply to email.

What if I don't understand the lecture?

The first person to contact usually is your tutor. Work out questions about the lecture that you can raise in your next tutorial. It is likely that other students didn't understand the lecture either and wish to clarify what was important.

What do I do if I am having difficulty with an assignment/essay?

Generally your tutor would be the first person to talk to about this. Try to be specific about what you are finding difficult (for example, you are not clear what the essay question means or you can't access any of the recommended texts, etc.)

You could also make an appointment with an academic adviser at Academic Skills. The adviser can help you analyse an essay question or work out an essay plan. They can give you feedback on your first draft, help you to develop your argument or improve your academic writing style.

What if I miss a lecture or a tutorial?

Lecturers and tutors understand that occasionally you may be unable to attend a lecture or tutorial. If you only miss one lecture or tutorial, you can study the lecture notes on the LMS and catch up on the weekly reading. Usually you do not need to let your lecturer or tutor know about one missed class, although in many subjects there is a tutorial attendance requirement.

If you miss two or more lectures and tutorials, try to keep up through studying the readings and lecture notes. You will need to also contact your tutor to explain your absences and find out what you have missed.

If you miss a lot of lectures and tutorials you will need to consider if you can still pass the subject. Talk to your lecturer or tutor about it. You may be able to arrange for extra time to catch up and hand in assignments. If you have missed a lot of lectures and tutorials for reasons outside your control you may need to apply for special consideration.

What do I do If I need an extension for my written assignments?

All subjects have criteria for the granting of extensions. Your lecturers or tutors will explain these to you. Usually, tutors are able to permit small extensions if you meet the normal criteria. Longer extensions are usually granted by the lecturer. Make sure you apply for an extension before the due date for the submission of the assignment.