How is university different to school or college?

Whether you're currently studying for A-levels, BTECs, IBacc, Scottish Highers or some combination - or something else entirely - you will find studying at the University of Leicester very different to anything you have done before.


The three main elements of university study which you will encounter are lectures, seminars and tutorials. In lectures you’ll be in a lecture theatre listening to an academic describing and explaining some aspect of the subject; seminars are small group discussions led by an academic; and a tutorial is a smaller group than a seminar, often a one-on-one session. In science subjects there will also be lab practicals which can last up to half a day. And some subjects will include field trips around the UK or even overseas.


Up to now, your work has probably been assessed mostly through a mixture of coursework and/or exams. Degrees have a much wider range of assessments which can include presentations, posters, reports, group projects or whatever is appropriate to the subject. As well as essays and exams, of course. And in your final year you will probably have to write a dissertation, a really-in-depth piece of work which can typically be about 15,000 words long.


At school and college, your teachers were responsible for making sure you were learning properly and making progress. At uni, you have to take responsibility for yourself. It's up to you to make sure you get to lectures on time, it's up to you to hand in your work on time.

More than that, it's up to you to find things out. Your lectures will introduce you to a topic but to understand it sufficiently you will need to do a lot of your own research, at home or in the Library.


Each year of your degree is made up of several self-contained modules, each with its own schedule of learning, and its own assessment. You need to pass all your modules.

At some point (often in your second year) you will probably have a choice of which modules to study, selecting a set number of option modules from a range. This lets you tailor your degree to your own interests, so you study what interests you and what will be good for the career path you're considering.

Some of our related degrees, within the same subject area, have a 'common first year' so the modules are the same whichever course you're on. This means that it may be possible to switch to a different degree at the end of Year 1 if you find that your interests are steering you a particular way.

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