Universities can use a lot of specific and confusing language. If you're new to higher education, or want a hand brushing up, this guide can help you get to grips with university jargon.
- Academic calendar
- Course terminology
- University structure
The academic year at university is broken into two semesters. The first runs from September through to January and the second runs from February through to June. Some modules will be taught over both semesters or some will be condensed into one semester.
These are numerical values assigned to modules. The total number of credits you can study each academic year is 120. So you’ll have to check that the modules you choose in addition to your compulsory modules don’t exceed the limit. The amount of credits offer some indication of the size of the module. For example a 10 credit module may only last one semester and you’d expect to have less study hours than a 40 credit. When you successfully pass a module you will be awarded that number of credits.
This refers to the level of difficulty of the module or programme, starting at Level 0 for foundation and preparatory programmes and ranging up to Level 3 for the highest undergraduate level. For full-time students, each level is roughly the same as one year.
A module is a topic of study. You’ll take various modules each academic year. Some modules are compulsory so you have to take these. Each module carries a credit rating of either 10, 20, 30 or 40 credits. Depending on how many credits your compulsory modules make up, you may have the choice to study optional modules. Optional modules are closely related to your subject but cover different topics in greater detail so you can specialise and tailor your knowledge to your particular interests or passions. You may also have the option to choose some discovery modules – these can be from different areas within the university. Such as a language module or perhaps something you just like the sound of and would be interested in learning about. They’re a great way to tailor your study around your interests or career aspirations and help you stand out from the crowd when you graduate.
As universities are very large institutions which offer a range of subjects there needs to be a way to group related subjects. Faculties are the second lowest level of grouping. The Social Science BA degree falls under the Faculty of Social Sciences which also includes the School of Politics and International Studies, School of Education and the School of Law.
As universities are very large institutions which offer a range of subjects there needs to be a way to group related subjects. Schools are the lowest level of grouping. The Social Science BA degree falls under the School of Sociology and Social Policy. Different Schools are located in different buildings (or a least different parts of a building). The School of Sociology and Social Policy is housed in the Social Sciences Building which is fairly central on campus. The Social Sciences Building is shared with the School of Politics and International Studies.
You may see school names abbreviated as some of them are quite long, for example SSP for the School of Sociology and Social Policy.
BA (Bachelor of Arts)
You’ll often see the abbreviation BA after certain degree programmes. The BA tells you the type of qualification is a Bachelor of Arts. This is the formal name of the qualification.
BSc (Bachelor of Science)
Another abbreviation you’ll often see after certain degree programmes is BSc. The BSc tells you the type of qualification is a Bachelor of Science. This is the formal name of the qualification.
LLB (Legum Baccalaureus)
Another abbreviation you’ll often see after certain degree programmes is LLB. The LLB tells you the type of qualification is Legum Baccalaureus which is Latin for Bachelor of Laws degree. This is the formal name of the qualification.