German, from Latin seminarium nursery or "seed plot"
- 1: a group of advanced students studying under a professor with each doing original research and all exchanging results through reports and discussions
- 2a (1) : a course of study pursued by a seminar (2) : an advanced or graduate course often featuring informality and discussion
- b : a scheduled meeting of a seminar or a room for such meetings
- 3: a meeting for giving and discussing information
A seminar is, generally, a form of academic instruction, either at an academic institution 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 and Canadian 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 occur during research work. It is essentially a place where assigned readings are discussed, questions can be raised and debates can be conducted. It is relatively informal, at least compared to the lecture system of academic instruction.