Difference Between Lecture and Seminar (With Table)

Seminar and lecture are often used as interchangeable terms but what differentiates them?

A student sitting in a class with a professor could be attending a lecture or a seminar. But when would they know if they are attending a seminar or a lecture. For this, it is important to be able to differentiate between the two terms.

A lecture is when a professor is in front of a few 50 students and having an hour-long monologue. This contains facts and researchers and is usually academics related. The main purpose of a lecture is for imparting knowledge to students of college and schools.

A seminar is a meeting for a training session for more than 100 students at a time. Here, the professor does not have to be engaged in a monologue delivery but can actively participate and oversee the discussions being held by the students in the class.

The difference between Lecture and Seminar is that lecture is done as an educational or academic talk for students whereas lecture is a meeting for a training session where the students are required to actively participate.

Comparison Table Between Lecture and Seminar

Parameters of ComparisonLectureSeminar
PurposeEducational or academic-related talk to students of school or collegeIt is a meeting or can be considered as a training session
DurationHalf an hour to one hour but many sessionsMore than one hour.
ApproachHas a theoretical and practical approachHas a practical and professional approach
SettingsIt is quiteThere are usually discussions being held by the professor and the students
Professor’s roleDelivering academic research filled monologue to the studentsAre there to only oversee the progress and discussions of the students
Student’s roleAre usually required to remain silent and take notesAre required o be active in class and take part in discussions
Mass100-200 studentsNot more than 50-60 people

What is a Lecture?

A lecture is an academic and educational talk for the students of colleges and schools. They are focused on a particular topic and the professor is required to talk only regarding the particular topic.

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A lecture can go up to an hour but will have many sessions held to complete the detailed analysis of the topic at the discussion. A typical lecture hall permits only up to 100-200 students per lecture.

During a lecture, the students are required to be quiet and be attentive to the professor, only speaking when asked to or necessary. They are told to take notes for future references as well.


What is a Seminar?

A seminar is a training session meeting that is held in a discussion mode. A seminar can last up to four hours and can accommodate at the most 60 students in one session, accounting for the fact that there is only one session.

A seminar, unlike a lecture, is not professor driven but are students-driven. This is because the students are required to take an active part in discussions and make their points valid while the professor’s role is only to oversee the discussion being held.

Though a seminar can have up to a hundred students at a time, if it is held for college purposes then it would include only a professor and a maximum of twenty students for an effective outcome.


Main Differences Between Lecture and Seminar

  1. The purpose of a lecture is the delivery of academic and educational talk to students of colleges and schools whereas a seminar is only a meeting or training session for the students.
  2. Though a lecture lasts only for half an hour to one hour, there are many sessions held for completing the topic at discussion or the topic being taught. The duration of a seminar can be up to three to four hours.
  3. The approach used by the professors for the two meetings is also different. While a lecture requires a practical and theoretical approach, a seminar requires a practical but professional approach.
  4. A lecture hall is always quite because the students are attentive to the professor’s talk and taking down notes. But a seminar hall is quite contrary because the students are continuously in discussions throughout a seminar that may or may not have the professor’s involvement
  5. The professor’s role is also quite different in the two. The professor in a lecture is required to have a monologic conversation and deliver all the information about the topic in an academic sense after thorough research. But the professor of a seminar is only there to oversee the discussions and debate being held by the students and participating when necessary.
  6. During a lecture, the students are required to take notes for future reference from the lecture as it would not be repeated. Whereas, during a seminar, the students are required to actively participate in the discussions being held by the professors.
  7. Since the professors need to focus on the information, the mass of students accepted into a lecture hall is limited from 100 or more. Whereas a seminar can have a mass of up to 50-60 students as it is all about progressive discussion.
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Though a seminar and lecture are held for the progressive development of the students, they are still different from one another.

A lecture is held for an hour at the maximum per day with a small mass of 100-200 students attending them. But they have many sessions to be able to cover the details of the given topic. They are mostly academic and research-driven by professors.

A seminar is held for three to four hours and has only one session. The seminar can hold up to 60 students for a single session and are mostly discussion driven by the students. The professors don’t have much of a role during a seminar.

The difference between a lecture and a seminar is the purpose that the two are held for. While a lecture is held for academic and research development of the students but a seminar is held as part of training sessions meetings with the students.


  1. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED443814.pdf#page=112
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1034/j.1600-0579.2000.040303.x