- We’re not in the classroom anymore: During school, most people are in a class of about 30 students being taught by the same teacher several times a week. This changes drastically when you are at university. Studying a science degree, your time will most likely be split between lectures, seminars, and labs. Here’s a quick explanation of each.
In university lectures, you may be in a much larger class of up to 300 students. The academic will be stood at the front presenting the lecture, and your job is to listen and take notes.
Seminars are more similar to a classroom scenario. You will likely be split into smaller groups of about 30 students. Here is your opportunity to have group discussions and be more involved in the teaching!
Lab sessions are great fun and a brilliant way to enrich your learning. The academics leading the sessions are experts in their field and so you get to explore the concepts you have learned in your lectures and get some hands-on experience.
- Free time/ attendance: Although attendance may be monitored at university, if you miss a lecture or seminar it is up to you to make up for it. The academics won’t chase you up, so if you miss a lot of sessions it is your own responsibility and I can promise you your grade will reflect it!
That said, there’s much more free time at university than at school. Depending on your degree, you may have anywhere from 6 hours to 20 hours of teaching a week, possibly even more or less. In the free time you have you are expected to self-study (more on that later) and enrich your own learning. However, balance is important, so it also leaves plenty of time for socialisation, playing sports, joining societies, and exploring the town!
- Assessments: Rather than just exams, you will be assessed in a variety of ways. Modules may be split between written assignments and exams, and some modules may involve lab reports and placements. The assessments are spread over the semester and so this is a great way to show off a variety of skills and what you can do away from the traditional exam pressure.
- Homework vs Self Study: At university, you won’t be set homework as such. Tasks set by lecturers will not be marked unless they are formal assignments, but will be set as guidance for self-study. Self-study is a big part of university life, and it can be harder to motivate yourself when it is not being checked by teachers. However, it will be crucial in preparation for your classes and assessments and for understanding the knowledge learnt in lectures.
- Work placements: Some courses such as Medicine and Medical Imaging have mandatory placement requirements, going out and working in the hospitals, becoming part of the team there. Other courses may have the option to take a placement year between your second and third year. This is an amazing chance to apply your knowledge in the real world, become part of a working team, and scout out ideas of what you may or may not want to do after graduating. Work placements can be assessed as part of your course, and are a really great way of practical learning.
- Freedom!: Being at university gives you the chance to be independent and take responsibility for yourself and your own learning. You are no longer restricted by dress codes, lunch times and homework. It’s a great opportunity to put yourself out there and try something new. Trust me – you will love it!
Sophie Elisabeth Pearson
April 16th, 2020
Exams and Assessment, Higher Education, Lectures and Seminars, Preparing for University, Studying, Undergraduate