What International Students Should Expect From Their Course

What International Students Should Expect From Their Course
Learning in the UK can be a lot different to other countries both in terms of the content but more relevantly, the manner in which it i taught. One of the common ways that courses in the UK is through the use of weekly lectures. These are large classes, usually lasting around one hour, where a lecturer (or tutor) talks about a subject and the students take notes. On some courses there can be over a hundred students in a lecture, both British and International. There is usually little or no opportunity to ask questions during the lecture with minimal input from students with the intention of the lectures to simply discuss new areas to study which you would then take in, ensure your understanding in your personal time and then confirm your understanding in your seminars.

Seminars are smaller classes where students and a tutor discuss a topic. Seminars often last longer than lectures and you will usually be informed prior to it’s start what the topic will be, and the tutor will often ask some students to prepare a short presentation for discussion. Seminars are usually intended to encourage debate about an issue. Both the tutor and students can express their opinions and may even disagree on certain points and this type of debate will be actively encouraged by the tutors. The aim is not for students to be told the "correct" answer, but to understand the different arguments and make judgements about their merits. You may also have tutorials which are meetings between a tutor and an individual student or small group of students. Tutorials are usually intended to give you more focussed guidance on a piece of work you are doing or a piece of work you have already completed.

On many courses you will have practical workshops, for example, laboratories on science courses, performance classes in music or drama, a mock trial on a law course. On some courses (for example, geography) you may go on field trips away from the institution. You may work individually but more usually you will be part of a group. Practical classes are usually intended to give you practical experience of the theories you learn in other classes and to develop practical skills. On some courses you may also have training in a working environment, under the supervision of experienced staff (for example, working in a hospital on a nursing or medicine course). Other courses offer "sandwich" placements - an opportunity to spend time away from classes working in employment related to your course of study.

On any course you will be expected to do some independent study. This usually involves working on your own (or sometimes in a small group with other students) to research a topic and produce written work, or make a presentation at a seminar. Regardless of what combination of these techniques is offered by your chosen university, try and get involved as much as possible both in the course and in working with other students. Particularly as an international student it can be difficult to put your hand up and try and debate but you will only benefit from these kind of interchanges.

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