Schedules at UK Universities
If you just got in to a UK University, you’re probably wondering what your schedule will be like. First off, they’re called timetables here. Second, you’ll quickly realize that scheduling is very different from what US schools do. Later on in this post, I’ll also explain the difference between lectures and seminars for those of you who don’t know.
Unless you’re doing a liberal arts degree, most of your classes will already be chosen for you. At least your first year. Also, unless you’re studying abroad of have some other exception, you’ll probably have four classes that don’t change with the semesters.
Hours are very different in the UK as well. I only have 7-8 “contact hours” a week, which is very usual. That means that I have a lot of free time for studying. And that free time is important. I need to block things in and make myself go to things in order to keep myself busy, but I have to make sure that I put a lot of time in to studying. Outside of class time is just as important as in class time and if your course is anything like mine, then you’ll probably have upwards of 60-80 pages per week per class to have read before the lectures and seminars. And it is incredibly helpful to have done the readings, they’re an integral part of the course.
Medical students are one of the exceptions that I know about for contact hours. Because of labs and other in person activities, their contact hours are much higher. But if you’re not taking a hands on learning course, it’s most likely that your hours will be like mine.
Here’s my schedule:
4-5 (only every other week) Historical Skills, Sources, and Approaches
5-6 International Relations Theory Lecture
11-1 History of the International System Lecture
9-10 International Relations Theory Seminar
10-11 Worlds of the British Empire Lecture
11:30-12:30 History of the International System Seminar
2-3 Worlds of the British Empire Seminar
Historical Skills, Sources, and Approaches only meets every other week but on the weeks that we’re not in class, there’s a short essay due.
That’s right, I only have classes 3 days a week. Tuesday and Wednesday are completely off, but that doesn’t mean they’re another weekend. I often find myself on campus those days for organization or society events or to study and read for my classes coming up. Friday is also kind of a killer day, but I don’t mind it that much since all my other days are so light.
Since I’m in a joint honors degree, History and International Relations, my classes are split down those two subjects. I have two in each department. International Relations Theory and History of the International System are in the War Studies, or International Relations, department and Worlds of the British Empire and Historical Skills, Sources, and Approaches are taken in the History department. Worlds of the British Empire was the only class I was allowed to choose this year though next year I can choose three out of my four classes.
I thought I’d also explain the difference between lectures and seminars for those who don’t know. Every class, with the exception of HSSA, has one lecture and one seminar a week. The lectures are lectures on the subject given by the course leader or a mixture of lecturers depending on the subject. Seminars are after the lecture and are mainly discussion based, giving us all the chance to interact with the material. They’re lead by PHD students in the field. In addition, we have one of the students giving a graded presentation on the topic each week that starts the discussion.
As far as I know, my schedule is very normal for UK Universities, including what I’ve heard about other Universities in London. It’s very light compared to what I’ve grown up expecting US Universities to be, which was strange getting used to. But free time isn’t really free time, its study time. Just remember to study, study, study!