If you encounter a new phrase during Summer School you might find a definition below - and if not, submit the word or phrase in the box to the right and we'll add our own definition, possibly with the help of the Student Tutor team.
Autonomous learning This is the idea that, as a student, you will take control of your learning. This could mean reflecting on your performance, setting objectives, motivating yourself to achieve these targets and generally being self-aware.
Autonomous learning group Referred to by some students as an 'ALG'. This is group work that takes places independently of staff supervision, although the make-up of groups will be made set by staff. Similar in format to tutorials, however students are expected to take an even stronger lead. ALGs do not form a part of all courses; however group work in a similar form is very common place, even if it doesn’t fall under the same title.
Citation A quotation or reference to a source that you have used in your work. This can be from a book, journal article, website etc. This will be covered in week 5 (‘Presenting evidence’). See Referencing also.
Common university marking scheme In general, universities favour a system of grading by percentages (rather than grades). In most courses, the ‘pass mark’ is 40%, although for some professional courses e.g. Medicine this is much higher. While 40% might be the ‘pass’ mark, most students will aim much higher, not least as progression to Honours years tends to be dependent on a consistently higher level of performance. Note, though, that universities can choose whatever system they want and some use a 21 or 22 point scale and/or grades, e.g. A1, A2, A3 and so on. So the key is to find out how you will be assessed and what the scales mean when you get to your future university.
Core subjects/Core modules These are the compulsory building blocks that form the main structure of your degree. You can build around this core by selecting outside subjects and/or electives.
Critical thinking We'll cover this in depth during the early stages of the Learning Skills course, however this simplest way of describing critical thinking is by thinking of a student who challenges and analyses information and ideas, rather than automatically accepting them to be true.
Director of study A member of staff from your academic department who can be consulted for guidance outside classes. However, the role, availability and input of your Director of Study can vary greatly between departments and universities. In some cases students are required to arrange regular appointments with this member of staff – other students might experience a more ad hoc arrangement. Also referred to as a Personal Tutor.
Dissertation Normally the major piece of research work you will complete as an undergraduate. Typically takes the form of an extended essay (generally 10,000 words or more) that is completed in your final year of study. Thankfully, not something you need to worry about for a few years yet! This will be covered during week 4: Academic Writing.
Elective Many university courses allow you to select courses from a pool, so that you can enhance your specialist degree knowledge by selecting a course of particular interest. Alternatively you can broaden your wider knowledge by taking a completely different subject. Similar to Outside subject/course.
Feedback This may seem like an obvious one, but feedback will come in many forms when you are a student. From formal feedback (like a mark or written comments on a piece of work) to more informal feedback, such as verbal feedback in a tutorial or lab. Sometimes you will be asked to complete work that will not contribute to your overall mark, but is important for gaining feedback on how you are progressing. As ever, if you recieve feedback that is unclear, be sure to ask your tutor for clarification.
Journals/journal articles A vital source of information for students, many of which are now available online. Put simply, these are academic or professional magazines written by people who are perceived to be expert (or experienced) in the chosen subject. We will cover journal and other information sources during week 2: Information Sources.
Lab(s) This is short for 'laboratory' and are practical classes for science and engineering students (and Psychology!). These can last up to 3 hours and are usually facilitated by tutors and postgraduate students.
Lab report Engineers and Scientists carry out tests and examinations in the laboratory. As they do this they record what happens. After the session, they write the full exercise – including objectives, methodology, what happened, conclusion – into a lab report. Lab reports will be covered in depth during week 4: Academic writing.
Learn (course site)
This is the virtual learning environment - the online space - that many courses will be using in Summer School. Within higher education there are other similar spaces that basically do the same thing, such as Moodle and Blackboard.
Lecture The most common way that information is imparted at university. In general, these sessions lack interaction – the focus is upon recording information that the lecturer imparts. Takes place in the lecture theatre. The themes introduced in lectures are often developed during tutorials.
Matriculation This is the process of enrolment when you begin university. This has traditionally involved lots of queuing although it’s increasingly common to matriculate online. Also called registration. When you matriculate you’ll be given a matriculation number or student number.
Module A course of study. See also core module.
Outside subject/course Similar to an elective.
Paper Sometimes people will talk about 'reading a paper' or 'publishing a paper'. What they usually mean by 'paper' is an academic work that is published in an academic journal. Similar to Journal article. We will cover journal and other information sources during week 2: Information Sources.
Plagiarism In the simplest terms, taking someone else’s ideas or work and passing it off as your own. Whether done accidentally or intentionally, the penalties for this form of theft of intellectual property can be severe. Best avoided by acknowledging your sources, for instance by referencing. This will be covered during week 5 of the course.
Referencing The system of acknowledging the work of others in your own assignments. Can include citations within text, footnotes, reference lists, bibliographies or a combination of all the above. This will be covered in week 5 (‘Presenting evidence’).
Reflective practice Although this sounds like something from a Physics lab or perhaps the front cover of a Pink Floyd album, it really refers to the process of an individual spending time considering their emotions, strengths, weaknesses and so on. It's seen as an effective way of improving one's performance (whether at university of beyond) as you are encouraged to give some thought to how you might address weaknesses and improve strengths and so on.
Semester Another way of describing a term of study.
Seminar This is similar to a tutorial. The class will generally be smaller than in a lecture although it will last for longer. It is often more formal than a tutorial and may involve one or more presentations – possibly given by student members of the class – followed by discussion.
Student number Also referred to as a matriculation number or matric number.
Tutorial A small group session (typically around 10 people) where you will discuss themes that arose during associated lectures or recommended reading. The tutor will prompt discussion however the onus is on students to share views and ask questions. Normally last just under one hour.
Virtual Learning Environment During the early stages of your degree course your university may require you to log into a VLE (such as Web CT) where study and other materials will be hosted for the duration of your studies.
WebCT/Blackboard A type of Virtual Learning Environment.