Uni Life

University life – how does it work?

Getting started at uni

Hi there Explore readers, if you are at the beginning of your university journey then this is the post for you. I know when I first started I had heaps of questions about what university was like – what would I learn, how would I learn it, how would I be assessed, is it really that scary? Read on to find the answers to these questions.

Q: What do I learn?

A: The great thing about university is that you can learn about pretty much anything you are interested in. At Griffith there are a variety of degrees in ten study areas, from science and aviation; to business and government; humanities, social sciences and languages; education; and music, there is something for everyone. I’m studying a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in two areas: linguistics and creative writing and literature. A bit of a mouthful right? But what does this mean? Well, the Bachelor of Communication is the degree or qualification I will receive upon graduation at the end of the year, that’s what the piece of paper will say when I collect it in my gown and cap. My majors are the two areas that I have chosen to focus on in my degree, and the majority of subjects I study correlate to these areas. For example, as part of my creative writing and literature major I have completed courses where I studied Shakespeare’s plays, learned how to write a short story, and read classic fiction. Your majors generally relate to the areas you are interested in and the career path you would ultimately like to end up in.

Q: How do I learn?

A: As many of you probably know, university classes run a little differently to school. The most common format for a university subject is a lecture, where students listen to a presentation given by a professor or an expert in the field. These presentations usually go for between one and two hours each. Students generally also attend a one to two hour tutorial for each course per week. These smaller classes, usually around thirty students, are used to unpack and analyse the topics discussed in the lecture. In tutorials students usually complete activities and take part in class discussions in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the course material. Though this structure is the most common in my degree, there are also many other ways to learn – in science based degrees students will often attend a workshop in a science laboratory where they complete hands on activities to gain practical scientific experience. Many computer based degrees also hold workshops in computer rooms so that students are able to use computer programs to complete activities.

Q: How will I be assessed?

A: This depends on the degree and the types of courses you choose to study. In my program there is large variation between the assessment tasks I complete. In courses for the creative writing and literature major, the assessment is largely focused on written work – essays, reports and creative writing. In courses for the linguistics major, I often have exams, reports and smaller written tasks. You can also expect to be assessed through presentations, small quizzes that take place during tutorial times and specific tasks relating to the area of study. For example, in science based degrees you could be assessed on a practical based activity conducted during your laboratory session, or asked to write a scientific report. You may also be asked to complete group tasks, often in the form of a spoken presentation or a written report. These tasks not only assess how well you know the course content, but also how you work as part of a team. These group assessments are especially common in study areas such as business.

Q: Is it scary?

A: Doing anything for the first time can be a little daunting, whether it be starting a new job or travelling to a new place. Starting university is no different. It took me a little while to settle into university life – the way the classes worked, where to find these classes and of course meeting new people. But I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the university experience. I’ve made some amazing friends and had the opportunity to learn about subjects I was really interested in. Always remember that you’re not completely alone at the start of your university journey. Orientation days are an excellent opportunity to learn about your chosen degree, meet the staff members who you can approach for help and get to know some of your peers who you’ll have classes with. Student Services also has a fantastic range of services available if you just need a little bit of a hand to help get you on your feet. They can show you how to use the library catalogue to research for an essay and teach you how to properly reference a journal article.

Good luck Explore readers! I hope your journey through university is both rewarding and enlightening.


– Elizabeth

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