Learning and Teaching

How Special Collections can support undergraduate and postgraduate teaching

Learning and Teaching using Special Collections

Special Collections plays an active role in supporting teaching and learning at the University of Leicester. We can deliver practical training sessions on using and understanding primary source material based on our unique collection of archives, manuscripts and rare books. We can also facilitate seminars and group research sessions led by academic staff. New approaches from colleagues interested in using our collections in their teaching are welcomed, and we are happy to discuss ideas and contribute to curriculum development.

Group sessions

The Special Collections reading room can be booked for use by classes of up to 20. Special Collections staff can help to identify relevant material and can set up materials in advance of seminars. In order to support good handling practices and preserve our rare and unique collections, a member of staff will be on duty throughout the session. Staff and students are asked to observe normal reading room rules regarding food and drink, use of pencils and digital photography during seminars. The first time a group visits, a member of the Special Collections team will deliver a short introduction to using and handling the collections.

Feedback from staff and students is usually very positive, and we find that students are excited by the opportunity to handle original materials. For further information on recent classes taught using Special Collections see our blog post on 'Supporting teaching in Special Collections'.

Assignments and Dissertations

Linking visits to Special Collections with assignments and assessment is a very effective way of engaging students with the collections and encouraging repeat visits. We are happy to discuss how assignments can draw on primary sources in our collections, and welcome enquiries from undergraduate and postgraduate students seeking material for essays and extended projects. We are currently developing a series of guides and dissertation topic ideas for relevant subject areas, beginning in 2014/15 with a series of webpages on Special Collections for History Dissertations.

To arrange a session or discuss how Special Collections can support your teaching contact specialcollections@le.ac.uk or Book a Librarian.

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