Saturday, 11 April 2020

University Terminology To Know | A to Z

University Terminology To Know  from A to Z

Before starting university, there are some words and terms that you should be familiar with. Knowing these words will make the transition to university much easier.

Academic year  

The university year (usually from September to June).


Many people will be familiar with this word, but ‘admission’ is giving you permission to start your course. 

Admission criteria 

Universities have criteria you must meet when applying for university. These are essentially the minimum criteria you need to meet in order to gain entry on your preferred course. 


After you graduate, you become a member of the alumni community. Alumni is basically a former student. 


You may appeal against an academic or disciplinary decision made by the university. People usually appeal an academic decision (such as an assignment grade). 


Is a technique by which you will get assessed. It’s ultimately like exams, and it measures your academic progress and performance. There is a variety of ways in which you can be assessed (For example, examinations, presentations, assignments, portfolios, academic posters, artefacts, MCQ, open-book examination, literature review, dissertation etc.). 

Bachelor degree 

Is awarded to students who have successfully completed an undergraduate degree. Bachelor degree is a standard university award which is recognised all over the world. 

Bachelor of Arts (BA) 

Gaining a degree in an arts or social science subject. For example, Business, Law, Primary Education, Childhood Studies, Film Production, History, Social Work, Journalism, Events Management, Photography, Animation, Media Production etc. 

Bachelor of Science (BSc) 

Gaining a degree in science-related subjects. For example, degrees included are Sociology, Biomedical Science, Psychology, Public Health, Adult Nursing Practice, Criminology, Computer Science, Cosmetic Science etc. 

Board of examiners 

A committee who reviews the performance of students to ensure the assessments are fair. They officially administer examinations. 


Available to students for extra financial help if you meet certain criteria. You don’t have to pay the bursary back. 


Refers to university grounds (recreational areas and buildings included). 


The grade you get when completing your degree. 
Usually in the following order: 
  • First Class Honours (1st)
  • Upper Second Class Honours (2.1) 
  • Lower Second Class Honours (2:2)
  • Third Class Honours (3rd)
  • Ordinary Degree (Pass)
  • and Fail (no degree awarded)

Combined degree 

You complete a degree in two subjects’ side by side. You will be awarded your final title upon completing your dissertation in one of the subjects. 

Contact hours 

The hours you will be expected to spend attending lectures, seminars, workshops etc. at university. Usually referred to where a lecturer will be present. 

Core modules

Modules which you MUST complete. 


The course you will be studying, full-time or part-time, and for how many years. 


After successfully completing a module, you obtain a certain amount of credit. Usually, one module is worth 10 or 20 credits, but it can vary. A student normally studies 120 credits each academic year.

Deferred entry 

You have a 12-month break between finishing college/sixth-form and actually starting university. The exact year of entry to university can vary. You’re applying to start a course not starting in the next academic year. For example, if you finished college in July 2020, but are applying for deferred entry, you would apply to study in September 2021 instead of September 2020. 


An award obtained from the university after successfully completing a course. 


A long (usually in your final year) written piece based on your subject. It’s extremely independent and the word count varies in each degree programme. 

Dual degree

Taking two subjects and learning them at the same level with an equal amount of credits. 


The process of formally registering to study a course. 


Basically different departments for different subjects. For example, Business, Law, and Tourism or Education and Society. Sometimes, some faculties group a wide range of disciplines. For example, the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing may group Adult Nursing Practice, Nursing, Biomedical Science, Sports Coaching, Paramedic Practice, Biochemistry etc. 

Formative assessment

A formative assessment will help you by providing you feedback on your work which does not count towards your final classification or mark. It is a good way to see your performance. This may include mock exams or feedback on your work.

Freshers or freshman 

A first-year university student. 

Freshers week  

A week at the beginning of the academic year with a programme of events to welcome new students to university. 

Gap year 

Taking a year out of study.


A person who has successfully completed an awarded course at university. 


The formal ceremony for students who have successfully completed their degree. 

Halls of residence 

Accommodation provided by the university. 

Independent study

At university, you will have to do independent study. You have to work on your own. This may include completing tasks, extra-reading, figuring out answers, and so much more. You will be in charge of your own time and have to decide how to use your time as best as you can. 

Laboratory classes 

Depending on your degree subject, you may get tested on the concepts/methods introduced in the lectures. 

Learning outcome 

What you should be able to demonstrate and show after successfully completing the module. You will be assessed based on these learning outcomes. 

Leave of absence 

Taking a break from study which is granted formally by the university by submitting a written application. 


A presentation which is given to you and it usually covers the history/background information and information which is relevant to your topic. A lecture usually has everyone who is doing the same module as you and runs for 50-60 minutes. They can be back-to-back lectures. You’re expected to listen and take notes. 


An instructor or someone who teaches you. 


Taking a major in a certain subject. You will be studying (normally) 2 subjects and your major will be the one in which you do most of the work. 

Master’s degree 

Awarded to students who complete a master’s degree (usually have to demonstrate capability in their chosen programme). You can start the programme after successfully completing an undergraduate programme. A master’s degree is a postgraduate qualification. 


The opposite of major. Your minor subject is one which you do the least. 


In your subject, you get different modules (each worth a certain number of units) to complete. The module is made up of certain lectures/seminars etc. You then get an average grade for the assessments completed in the module. The module grade will result in your final year result. 
For example, (hypothetically speaking), if you’re studying fruits and vegetables for 3 years. In year one, semester 1, you might be learning about fruits. The core modules of fruits may be apples and bananas. In the apple module, you will learn about the history of the apple, benefits, etc. You might get assessed four times in the module (2 exams and 2 written assignments). Your grades will average out to make the module. So, on average you may get 50 for the apple module. 

Module handbook 

A handbook with a lot of information about your module from your assignments to recommended reading and so much more. 


Studying off-campus with no direct contact with other students or lecturers. 

Online course 

Everything is done online. The lectures/workshop/seminars are all delivered online. 

Optional modules 

Modules which you can choose. In year 2 and 3, you have more leniency over the modules you do. This is where you have more flexibility to tailor your degree. 


A method of referencing in the way of changing what a person has said. 

Personal tutor 

This may vary from university to university, but a personal tutor is someone who you will be seeing for the duration of your course. They’re there to help you through university. If you have any problems or issues, then your first point of contact should be your personal tutor. You can meet and contact your personal tutor at any time, but usually, you meet them approximately 2/3 times a year (otherwise, you can email them). 


Copying someone else’s work without referencing. 


A student who has completed an undergraduate qualification and are continuing their studies. Usually, postgraduates do their masters. 


Is a required module you need in order to study another module. For example, in year 2 you must study ‘123’ in order to do ‘123.02’. 

Recommended reading 

The reading which is recommended to you by your lecturer and helps you in your study. 


Referencing a person’s research or ideas which you have used in your work. 


Another way to financially help students, usually in the form of grants or payments. 


See independent study.


The academic year is usually made up of 3 semesters though this can vary from university to university. 
Semester 1 is from the start of the academic year until the winter holidays (December). 
Semester 2 starts after the winter holidays (January) until the end of the academic year. 
Semester 3 is from the start of the academic year until the end of the academic year. 


These are usually in small groups. There is normally set work for the seminars. In these seminars, you talk in detail about the recommended reading, lectures, or set work. You might have to talk in detail, create posters, group work, or present work.

Students Union 

They are dedicated to representing the student body and also creating student activities. 

Submission deadline 

Date, time, location etc. of where/when the assessment must be submitted. 

Summative assessment

A summative assessment will measure your understanding and knowledge of the learning outcomes. Common examples are exams and marked assignments which count as your final mark.


A transcript will include your academic performance and progress. This also includes a list of your modules and grades. 


An individual who has never studied at degree level before. 


A virtual learning environment to support teaching and learning. It’s a place where your lecture notes, recommended reading, important information etc. will be.


Same as seminars. Lecturers may present further slides to help you get a better insight into the topic.

So, these are some university terminology which I think are important to know before starting university. Do you have any other terminology which you think are important? Let me know in the comments. 

Thanks for reading!
Until next time, take care, and keep smiling.
Ramshaa Rose

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