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What to Expect

Starting university can be daunting. Read on to prepare yourself for your first year as a university student...

Factsheet for New University Students View the Factsheet for New University Students. It aims to make new students aware of the gaps between the expectations and actual experiences of first year students.



  • How many contact hours can I expect per week?

    Most courses (subjects) have two 50 minute lectures and one 1 hour tutorial, workshop or seminar per week (a total of 3 hours per week). The exception to this is languages which have up to 5 hours of classes each week.

    If you plan to be a full-time student by enrolling in four courses per semester, this equates to 12 - 20 contat hours per week. You can find out how many and what type of classes there are for courses you plan to study using the Course Planner website.

    These contact hours might appear minimal however you will also need to set time aside to complete work outside of class, for example, complete set readings, prepare for tutorials, and research and write assignments. The recommended amount of study for university subjects is 6-10 hours per week (outside of class) so you are advised to carefully plan your non-contact study time. You will need to commit up to 40 hours a week to study full-time.

  • What is a lecture?

    A lecture is an oral and audio-visual presentation usually presented by the academic coordinator (head) of a course. The purpose of a lecture is to convey critical information and theories and students are expected to listen carefully and take notes with little guidance from the lecturer in identifying what should be noted down. Lectures can be from 50 minutes to two hours in duration and anywhere from 20 to 400 students might attend. They are usually held in lecture theatres which are large rooms designed to cater for large numbers of students.

    Most courses have either two 50 minute lectures per week or one 2 hour lecture per week. You can find out how many lecturers there are for the courses you plan to study using the Course Planner website.

  • What is a tutorial?

    Tutorials are small discussion groups lead by a tutor. Students are usually required to attend one tutorial per week for each course. Weekly assignments are often set and may involve a presentation to the group, a written exercise, or participation in group discussion. Attendance at tutorials is compulsory and a roll is usually taken, especially where tutorial participation forms part of the course assessment.

  • How will I be assessed?

    Assessment methods can vary depending on the nature of the course. They generally take the form of essays, examinations, projects, presentations, reports and assignments. The assessment details of each course are listed clearly in the Course Planner, along with the weight each assessment will carry towards the final grade.

    There are many support services available to assist new students with producing university level assignments. There are university wide services such as the Writing Centre and Maths Drop-in Centre. The Faculty also has a Study Skills Support team to assist you. They can proofread your essays and help develop your research skills.

  • Student associations and campus activities

    The University of Adelaide is renowned for its vibrant and dynamic campus life. Active students can take part in the number of sporting activities organised by the Sports Association or visit the Fitness Hub. The Uni bar is also an iconic venue for University of Adelaide students. There are several student associations, which provide the opportunity to expand and develop new networks.

    For a list of the available associations, see the University's Information for Students page.

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