Teaching at Clare
In Cambridge, responsibility for teaching is shared between the Colleges and the University. The Faculties and Departments structure the courses offered, organise lectures, practicals and classes, and set, invigilate and mark the examinations. Since the courses are offered by the University rather than the Colleges, all students in each subject take the same course, whatever their College.
The academic role of the College is different from the University's. Colleges arrange the small-group teaching (supervisions), that are such a special characteristic of Cambridge. Students attend lectures, practicals and classes organised by the University, but then in supervisions have a chance to explore their content in much greater depth, to make connections with other areas in the field, to have problems discussed and written work marked. Supervisions therefore provide unique opportunities for students to receive personal help and feedback and often to work very closely with supervisors who are themselves leading scholars in their field. It is this aspect of the teaching in Cambridge that attracts many students to the University, and makes students’ time here intellectually memorable. Supervisions also offer an opportunity to get out and visit other Colleges. This is because students in Cambridge are not supervised entirely within their own College, but are rather sent to the best supervisors available in each subject specialism, whichever their College.
Clare is committed to making the supervision system work for the best possible benefit of its students. All students are assigned a Director of Studies in their subject, who is responsible for their overall academic progress and wellbeing. The Director of Studies advises on subject choices, arranges supervision teaching for each student, is available to help sort out problems, and liaises generally between the College and the University on the student’s behalf. Often, a Director of Studies will act as supervisor if a student is studying a subject in which he or she specialises. Many students get to know their Directors of Studies extremely well, and at Clare we try hard to make this relationship a rewarding one. We have our own internal Directors of Studies in most subjects, and they regularly see all students under their care at the start and end of every term, as well as being readily available to give advice and deal with difficulties.