What will studying at university be like?
The great majority of courses at Cardiff University have a modular structure which increases the choices of topics available to study. Most courses contain core modules that will be compulsory and optional modules that you select to you’re your interests.
Studying at university requires students to take significant responsibility for organising their own work and time. Independent study will play a large part in your success at university. Much of your study time each week will involve reading around your subject, including time in the library tracking down books and electronic resources. As with all large organisations the University uses information technology extensively, so be prepared to communicate using Internet, email and word processing.
If you are asked to attend an interview, an open day or offered a place at Cardiff University, it may be helpful to discuss the course structure and what is expected of you with academic staff.
Your course timetable will not include your independent study. Only the formal teaching will be scheduled, and as a very rough guide, humanities and social sciences subjects involve 10 contact hours; science subjects anything from 15 to full time including lab work.
With perhaps 100 or more students in the lecture theatre, this is a presentation with the emphasis on students listening and taking notes. Some lecturers may be willing to answer questions during the lecture, but most will answer questions at the end.
Case Study: Natasha
Natasha Kalebic completed an Access to Nursing in Coleg Glan Hafren, a local FE College and progressed to a BSc in Psychology. Natasha is currently a PhD student.
Seminars or tutorials
Often weekly for each module, seminars will be an opportunity to actively participate in small groups of perhaps 10 or 15. Sometimes a student will lead the discussion on a topic decided beforehand. A supportive tutorial environment in which everyone can contribute helps students develop confidence in their academic abilities.
Practical work may include working within a laboratory in science courses or time spent working outside of the university on placement. For some, particularly health-related courses the work based placements may involve hours outside 9 to 5.
Most courses will be assessed with both written assignments and exams. Adults returning to learning often express concern regarding exams but it is important to remember that careful preparation will help. Your exam structure will be known beforehand and practice with past papers develops confidence.
Every student is allocated a Personal Tutor who is a member of the academic staff within your subject area. Your tutor can give guidance and feedback on your studies, as well as support with the additional pressures that mature students often juggle
Like all modern university environments, electronic communication and information gathering is the norm now. You will be expected to be familiar with email, the use of the internet, and word processing to submit work electronically. IT induction, training and support are available when you arrive although practising these skills beforehand is important. The university learning environment is called ‘Blackboard’ which allows you flexibility to access resources and study when and where it suits you, including from home.