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University Terms Glossary

University Terms Glossary

University Terms Glossary

When you get to university, you’re bound to find plenty of terms that you either don’t understand or have just plain and simple never come across in your time in education. So we’ve compiled a list of some of the words or phrases that you’re likely to come across at university.


You’ll probably already be aware of the concept and definition of what coursework, but it is still worth covering. It can also be known under the word assessment too. Coursework is work done independently for your normal classwork activities. The work that you complete will almost always count towards the final grade that you receive at the end of the school year, however, it has been known to be the overall judgement for students that don’t have examinations for their course(s). However, this is incredibly rare at university these days. Some students will prefer their course to be marked heavily in coursework, while other will prefer exams, this is why choosing a degree course is tailed to your preferences is essential. 


A dissertation is an essay on a subject of your choice, it usually comes at the end of your final year, although, some universities and some courses will have multiple dissertations per-course, although this is exceedingly rare, this is why its important to choose the right university and course that suits your work style best. A dissertation is mainly a research project that is aimed at seeing how students handle independent study. Most dissertations will come with independent word counts too; the word count is vitally important too.

Foundation Degree:

A foundation degree is a little bit different for your Honours degree (See below). A Foundation degree will have lower grade requirements, allowing students to study a degree with weaker grades. Once the Foundation degree has been completed, students then have two options; 1 – continue with the Foundation degree and graduate with that particular level degree or 2 – transfer over to a honours degree and complete to course with a higher valued degree (we would recommend this if you feel confident with your studies).


A fresher is someone in the first year of their time at university. There isn’t really much more to say about that if we’re honest!

Fresher’s Week:

A chance for fellow freshers to meet each other. The idea of fresher’s week is that people get to know each other and get to experience the university that they have turned up to or the town/city that they are now in. You’ll need to get stuck in if you want to appreciate it fully! Fresher’s Week will also give you the chance to talk to 2nd and 3rd years, so they are great people to talk to as they have already experienced the university life already!

Honours Degree:

An honours degree is often just referred to as a normal degree. An honour’s degree is the degree that you will most likely be studying. It is also a prerequisite for studying a Master’s Degree (See above).  


A lecture is where students will sit in a large room for a set time and will be taught by a teacher. No too dissimilar to a normal classroom environment, but, there will be more people here for this one, also the lectures themselves can last several hours in some cases. Laptops and pads are needed for this, in order to take notes or to record your lectures. Your first lectures as a university student will be terrifying, but you’ll adjust, don’t worry!

Maintenance Loan:

A Maintenance Loan pays for your living costs, the loan is then paid directly into your bank account at the start of every university term. A Maintenance Loan is dependent on the household income and is dictated by the amount coming into the household of those that are applying for them.

Master’s Degree:

A Master’s Degree is the first step of postgraduate study. Upon completing a degree at university, students have the option to complete a Master’s Degree. A Master’s Degree requires between one and two years worth of study in order to complete the course and offers students a better opportunity for employment with the qualification under their arm. However, a Master’s Degree is only really needed if your job requires that you have one, if no, we don’t recommend completing one as it can be a fairly redundant qualification if your job does not require you to have one.


A PGCE is a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. It is generally a one or a two-year higher education course. It provides training in order to allow graduates to become teachers within certain schools. Some schools will not allow you to get a job in the school without one.


A PhD is aDoctor of Philosophy. Despite its namesake, it is not only related to a Philosophy degree. The qualification is often used for people that are looking to gain jobs as scientists or teachers or a career similar to this. PhD’s can only offer by universities and are only offered in certain subject fields. It is also known as a Doctorate as well. A PhD or Doctorate will also increase your chances of finding more popular jobs, too! 


A seminar can have a different connotation than you may be used to. When people usually talk about seminars, people often think of people speaking to a large room and teaching the people in attendance. This is not the case with the university context of the word. The university context of the word is that students sit down in a room with their course tutor and discuss the course topics and engage in discussion. This may also be known as a tutorial group.

SITS Vision/eVision:

The software has your registration details, exam results and your university timetable available at the click of a button. The software will be used a lot when you’re at university. It is also known as eVision, this is just one example of the software that you will use at university.

Student Advisor:

If you have any issues you go to your Student Advisor. A Student Advisor is there to facilitate you with any issues that you may have and any problems that you may be encountering. And they will always be able to help you out with university and personal issues.

Student Union:

The Student Union is a communal area complete with a bar and other activities that will be arranged by your student representatives. Your student union body is there to ensure that students are well represented and will help as much as they can with any issues that you are facing.


Turnitin is a software that is used by universities and high schools that check the essays that students write for unoriginal or copied content. A lot of your essays will be uploaded to this at some point and feedback will be provided once the work has been assessed and marked.

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