Teaching at university is different from school. The basic method of presenting subject information at university is the lecture, although many departments use a variety of flexible approaches.
Lectures normally last 50 minutes and, in many first-year subjects, there can be up to 500 students at a lecture at one time. You may not have much opportunity to ask questions. Lectures are only a basic means of introducing new knowledge. You must back them up with your own wide reading.
You will also have essays and assignments, and may take part in laboratories or tutorials, which are teaching and discussion classes of 12 - 29 students where more individual attention is available. You may find you are in regular contact with tutors, other academic staff and other students through email or the internet.
Lecturers do not spend much time (if any) helping you meet deadlines as your high school teachers may have done. The responsibility is almost entirely your own.
Papers are assessed in a variety of ways. End of course examinations (finals) are usually the most important, and most papers have a three-hour examination. Finals are held at the end of each semester. Full-year papers are examined at the end of the second semester.
Many subjects also have shorter tests during the year, and written assignments and laboratory work often count towards your final grade. The proportion of the final grade awarded on the basis of internal assessment during the year varies with different subjects, but is often about 20 to 30 per cent.
In many departments, students must gain 'terms' before being able to sit the final examination for a paper. The ways students gain terms vary from department to department. They may be attending a number of lectures or laboratories, taking part in seminars and practical sessions, or submitting an amount of written work. These requirements are made clear at the beginning of the year in each paper.
Further information about final examinations is available elsewhere in this website.