As the University of Glasgow semester is just about to start, I am halfway through mine here in Australia. The heat is getting more intense now and unfortunately, so is the workload.
Since the past couple of weeks have been pretty heavy with work it only seems appropriate to dedicate a whole post towards studying at UQ! Even though you don’t want university work to take over your whole experience you should definitely not completely disregard it – after all, this is the first year of study that will eventually contribute towards your final degree. For most other exchange students (even from the UK) it’s really just about passing and getting credit as their grades are not transferred back to their home university.
So, let me introduce to academic life at the University of Queensland:
Assessment and Grades (important things first)
At UQ you are graded on percentage points (0-100%) and then get a grade from anywhere between 0-7, with 7 being the highest and 4 being a Pass. What this means is that you’ve got to be wise in picking your courses and do well on assessment when necessary. So far my impression has been that it is a bit more difficult to get a 7 here than to get an A in Glasgow, but people do manage by putting in a little extra effort. Like at GU you can access past exam papers which makes preparing (and predicting exam topics) a lot easier.
At UQ you take 4 courses each semester (worth 2 credits each=8 credits total) which happens to be the same at Glasgow University in your Honours years. This semester I am doing ECON2030 Microeconomic Policy, ECON2040 Macroeconomic Policy, POLS3203 Power and Order in Transnational Politics and POLS1101 Introduction to Australian Political Institutions. What I’ve found really good is that you only have a 2 hour lecture accompanied by a 50 minute tutorial for each course which -if you schedule your timetable early enough – gives you a day or two completely off. My contact hours are spread out between Wednesday and Friday which gives me a long weekend.
Only having a 2 hour lecture each week means you will be doing a lot of independent studying (aka teaching yourself from the book) which is very different to how courses work in the USA. As UK exchange students we are pretty accustomed to this way of learning so there shouldn’t be too many difficulties adapting.
The one area UQ is quite different to GU is the ongoing assessment throughout the semester. Next to mid-semester exams you will have a lot more essays to hand in. Also, some of my tutorials require me to hand in summaries of the week’s readings. While this certainly means you’ll be a lot busier during term time, your semester grade won’t depend as heavily on the final exam which may only contribute 40% towards your final grade (as opposed to 80% for one of my courses at GU).
If I had to pick one advantage GU has over UQ it would definitely be the library. Rather than having one large library for the majority of students UQ has several smaller branches. As such finding a computer to work on becomes more time-consuming than climbing a flight of stairs, as you will often have to cross campus to find a computer during busy hours. It seems to me there are a lot less computers available to students which makes your laptop an even more valuable learning device during exam periods.
Also, UQ has a (very) much smaller collection of books compared to GU. Therefore, relying on the library to access textbooks for your courses is not recommended and you will probably have to buy most books.
Lectures (least important things last)
One of the great things about UQ is that all lectures have to be recorded which is tremendously helpful and useful to students. I know that it’s becoming increasingly popular at GU and I very much hope it becomes the norm in the future.
Lectures and tutorials are very similar to GU even though class sizes are a lot larger (UQ has roughly twice the student population of GU).
I think that covers the most important parts of studying here. This may likely be the most boring post I publish in this series yet it could be an important one for people coming to UQ. Generally speaking, there is no need to expect a great academic shock and settling in will be quite a smooth process. If you have any questions in the meanwhile, feel free to message me!
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