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Seminar

Seminar

[sem-uh-nahr]

Seminar is, generally, a form of academic instruction, either at a university or offered by a commercial or professional organization. It has the function of bringing together small groups for recurring meetings, focusing each time on some particular subject, in which everyone present is requested to actively participate. This is often accomplished through an ongoing Socratic dialogue with a seminar leader or instructor, or through a more formal presentation of research. Normally, participants must not be beginners in the field under discussion (at US universities, seminar classes are generally reserved for upper-class students, although at UK and Australian universities seminars are often used for all years). The idea behind the seminar system is to familiarize students more extensively with the methodology of their chosen subject and also to allow them to interact with examples of the practical problems that always crop up during research work. It is essentially a place where assigned readings are discussed, questions can be raised and debates conducted. It is relatively informal, at least compared to the lecture system of academic instruction.

In some European universities, a seminar may be a large lecture course, especially when conducted by a renowned thinker (regardless of the size of the audience or the scope of student participation in discussion).

Origins of the word

The word seminar is derived from the Latin word seminarium, meaning "seed plot".

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