Types of Classes

Once you’ve received your time table your first question might be “What does all this stuff actually mean?” Well this section will help you decode that very colourful grid of lectures, tutorials, and practicals.

The image below is a sample time table of the 2019 fall semester. Your time table may look different to the one shown below; however, it should follow the same general structure. 

Each colour in your timetable corresponds to a different course. For example, all the different parts of ESC180 will be the same colour. However, while the boxes are coloured the same, the text will be different. Each block will have either a “LEC,” “PRA” or “TUT,” followed by a number. The letters are abbreviations for three types of classes: lectures (LEC), practicals (PRA), and tutorials (TUT). The number represents your section, which will be a subdivision of the full EngSci 2T7 class. Usually the class is split into two cohorts for lectures and many more groups for tutorials and practicals. 

Sample time table of 2019 fall semester with labels for lectures, practicals, and tutorials


  1. We cannot guarantee that these classes will happen in the aforementioned locations. Please check your email regularly for updates from the EngSci Office, Registrar’s Office, and Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering for information on your schedule for this year. 
  1. Not every course will follow this structure outlined below exactly. Some instructors may encourage more questions during lectures and fewer during tutorials, for example. Make sure to follow the instructions given to you by your instructors. 

Overview of class types

Lectures (LEC)

  • Instructor: Professor
  • Session Length: Typically one hour (sometimes two or three hours)
  • Location: Lecture halls
  • Class Size: Around 150-300 students
  • Main Objective: Learn new concepts

Your in-lecture experience will vary greatly based on your professor. Some professors prefer the chalk-and-talk method, some create PowerPoint slides, and others write digitally using a stylus. (Tip: If professors post slides beforehand, make sure to print or download them before class as you may want to make annotations!) Your learning and note taking style may have to change depending on the course. Take this as an opportunity to experiment with what works best for you! 

It is strongly recommended to attend every lecture. Lectures are a great place to connect with your peers and ask questions or listen to questions your peers are asking – which can be extremely valuable! Attending lectures also means you worry less about catching up, which is always a good thing. Unless he was sick, Daniel attended practically every lecture in first year. For Calculus I and II (ESC194 & ESC195), learning in lectures greatly reduced his time spent on reviewing content. 

Tutorials (TUT)

  • Instructor: TAs (teaching assistants)
  • Session Length: Typically one hour (Praxis tutorials, called “studios,” are two hours)
  • Location: Lecture halls or smaller classrooms
  • Class Size: Around 30 students, similar to a typical high school class (can vary greatly depending on the course)
  • Main Objective: Practice and do examples based on lecture, ask any questions about class content, and see demonstrations of interesting concepts

Tutorials are similar to a standard high school class of 20-30 students. Most TAs will use the tutorial time to go through sample problems, give examples of applications, go over complex concepts from class, or just answer your questions. This will also likely be the time where you’ll have quizzes or hand in problem sets.

In some courses, tutorial attendance might be worth a percentage of your mark or you will have quizzes that count towards your grades. However, we recommend you attend all tutorials regardless as they’re often super useful and help you develop a deeper understanding of course content!  

Practicals (PRA)

  • Instructor: TAs and Lab Coordinators
  • Session Length: Typically three hours (you might be allowed to leave early if you finish your work)
  • Location: Usually in labs (computer or experimental)
  • Class Size: Around 40 students or less
  • Attendance: Mandatory for labs, usually mandatory in general
  • Main Objective: Put what you learned into action!

Practicals are where you get to apply what you have learned in class in a practical setting. The format can vary greatly depending on the course. For example, in PHY180 you’ll likely do small experiments that you can collect data from and write a lab report about. For ESC180 practicals, you will likely spend time in the computer labs where you can work on your coding projects, get feedback from TAs and ask questions.

Practicals are typically taught and run by TAs but there may also be a lab coordinator, whose responsibility is to design and execute the labs on a high level. Sometimes the lab coordinator will be the professor for the course, other times there will be a separate lab coordinator. You may also have online practicals instead of in-person ones; however, this depends on your course and instructor so make sure you read your syllabus and check your timetable to confirm.

Office hours

Office hours are specific times during the week when you can get extra help directly from professors and/or TAs. These sessions are typically held in the instructor’s office or through a virtual meeting. You will get more information about your instructors’ office hour schedule during the first few days or so of class. Some generous instructors also host additional office hours right before major assignments, midterms and/or exams. If no one has any questions about the material, office hours are also a great time to talk to your professors and ask them about their work and research! This can be helpful for learning more about a certain topic or field of research that piques your interest!