Studying in the UK may be a little different than how you study in your home country. Studying at University level is always different from how you study at High School or College. Read on to find out what these differences are and how you can prepare for them.
The UK Study Week
In the UK, you are usually studying at University or College from Monday to Friday. Saturdays and Sundays are free days, which you can spend this exploring your new surroundings.
Generally, most Universities also give students Wednesday afternoons off. This is usually spent hanging out with friends or taking part in activities organised by various clubs or societies at your University.
In your second and third years of University (if you are studying an Undergraduate degree), you may also get additional days during the week which should be used for independent study.
There are a number of different teaching methods usually used in UK Universities:
- Group Work
- Independent Study
You will be expected to work in a combination of all of the above throughout your study journey. Towards your final year (if you are studying a Bachelor’s Degree), you will most likely have more time for independent study, with a mixture of weekly tutorials and seminars taking up the rest of your timetable.
Lectures consist of a large group of students (probably exceeding 100) receiving an educational talk, usually delivered by a Tutor or Professor. You will most likely have to attend lectures every day, particularly during your first year. Attendance is usually recorded. It is good practise to take notes during your lectures. You will have access to a University online Blackboard, where lecturers will regularly upload course information, reading lists, assignments and lecture notes, as well as any important University information.
Seminars consist of a smaller group of students discussing in depth issues presented during lectures. Here, you will have the opportunity to speak with fellow students on subject matters. Seminars will be split into specific modules of a degree program. For example, you may have 5 different seminars, each for a specific module within your Degree. Seminars are also the place where your Professors will discuss assignments and group work.
One-to-one tutorials take place weekly with your personal Tutor. You will have the opportunity to discuss any issues you may have, whether they are related to course content or personal matters. All students are assigned a personal Tutor throughout their Course duration.
All University courses will have at least one assignment which has to be completed in a group. Usually, your Tutors will assign you a group to work with, and within this you will have to communicate effectively with each other, assign specific tasks to each person and organise group meetings to complete the work within the deadline. Group Work is usually Peer-Assessed, which means each member of the group assesses each other’s efforts and workload, and provide feedback to their group members about their work.
During lectures and seminars, you may be given assignments or exercises to carry out. Workshops are the place to complete these practical exercises, whether on your own or in groups. Most Science and Social Science related degrees will include a number of workshop sessions throughout the week.
You are expected to complete at least 5 hours a week of independent study where you go over your lecturer notes, revise or complete assignments. Independent study periods will be included in your timetable. You don’t have to stay on campus to complete this, though many students like to go to the Library or local coffee shops to study during this time.
It may seem very different than what you are used to in your home country at first, but remember that even within the UK, studying at College and at University are entirely different. Chances are that all students, whether they are International or UK, will take time to adjust to the different types of study styles. You may find you work better in your Seminars than you do Independently. That’s okay. Everyone works in different ways. Find which one works for you, and aim to complete as much work as you can during these periods.
If you ever find yourself struggling during your University course, your first point of contact should always be your Personal Tutor. They will provide you with assistance and advice throughout your years at University.