This study used a specially designed questionnaire to explore undergraduate students' expectations of and preferences in teaching, learning and assessment. A convenience sample of 395 first-year university undergraduates at the start of their university life was used. They were enrolled on a Medical, Business Studies or Psychology degree course at one of three British universities. Overall, the similarities in expectations and preferences between the three groups were greater than the differences. Specifically, the students expected to be taught by formal and interactive lectures but preferred to be taught by interactive lectures and group-based activities. Their least favoured learning methods were formal lecture, role-play and student presentations. Coursework assessment preference was for essays, research projects and problems/exercises. Although there was an overall preference slightly in favour of coursework assessment rather than examinations, this was not consistent across all three centres. Students asked to rate various qualities of a good teacher selected 'teaching skill', followed by 'approachability' as the most important. The effective collection and value to institutions of students' expectations is discussed.