Glossary of tertiary study words

Here are some words used at universities and TAFEs. It will be very useful to learn these words because it will help you understand what other students and teachers are saying.

Assessment. A piece of work which is marked or graded. Assessment can take a variety of forms including written assignments (essays or reports), examinations, laboratory work, oral presentations, and practical assignments.  Attendance at some classes may be required as part of the assessment: check this as soon as possible after you commence study.

Contact hours or contact time. The number of hours per week a student spends in class (classes include tutorials, lectures, workshops and practical sessions).

Attendance. Records of attendance are maintained by teaching departments and may impact upon a student’s successful completion or even be a compulsory requirement.

Course. Depending on the university, course could mean one of two things: 1) the degree or diploma you are enrolled in or 2) another name for subject.

Credit. Recognition of prior learning granted towards an academic program.

Elective. A subject that is chosen according to your interests, or a non-compulsory subject. Some restrictions may apply to what electives you can select.

Faculty. An organisational division within a university (e.g. Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science) covering a particular area of study.

Lecture. A lecture is a formal presentation by an academic staff member at university, usually to a large number of students. Lectures may include the use of handouts and audio-visual presentations. Opportunities for asking questions or discussing the material being presented are usually limited.

Program. Another word for 'course' or 'degree'.  Some tertiary institutions may use program.

Statement of results. A formal record of your academic results recorded against your module.

Subject. A subject is a particular area of study. For example, Accounting 101, Biology 101. However, some universities and TAFEs may use the word ‘course’ or ‘unit’ instead of ‘subject’.

Swot vac. In university, swot vac is the free time before exams when there are no classes scheduled, which enables students to prepare for exams.

Tutorial. A tutorial is a learning opportunity in which students discuss the key topics, concepts and ideas of the course with their tutors. Tutorials are closely linked to assessment and often involve small group discussions and group work. All students are expected to prepare for tutorials by reading required material and preparing questions and /or answers to questions. Students are also expected to participate actively in class discussions and small group activities. Tutorials often complement the lectures given for a course and usually run for one or two hours.