General Academic Information

Academic Terminology

An academic year is divided into two semesters: semester one, the first semester of an academic year, begins in September and ends in January. The second semester, semester two, runs from January to mid-June.

A module is a unit of study where a specific area within a subject is investigated by the teacher and the students. All modules have a code, a title and a specific number of credits attached to them.

Each module is given a credit value. Study Abroad students are required to follow a normal undergraduate workload based on 120 credits for a full academic year or 60 credits per semester. The credits can be transferred back to your home institution. The following transfer information is a rough guideline for the credits transfer based on some of our most popular Study Abroad student origin countries. Read more about Credit Transfer and Grade Equivalence

Teaching Methods

As an international student you may find certain ways of studying as well as the way we deliver our teaching somewhat different to your own country. We include below a description of the types of study sessions you will be expected to participate in, whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student.


In lectures University academic staff present information to a large number of students. It is expected that students will take their own notes during a lecture, even if these are also provided. Very often our staff will direct students to use online learning resources connected to the topic of the lecture. The lecture will often introduce you to a certain topic which might then be discussed in more detail in a seminar (see below).

You will be given a list of books at the beginning of the semester and you are expected to do extra reading on certain topics. You will not be told exactly which chapters/pages to read, and you will not be tested on the weekly reading. It is up to you to establish your own study pattern.

You may notice some students not attending lectures. It is highly recommended that you do attend them because:

  • Attendance is compulsory
  • Certain aspects of the topic will be talked about in greater depth and they may focus on aspects that may be part of the exams.
  • Experiencing this academic setup, no matter how well you learn in it, gives you insight into how things are taught and UK students learn – a valuable cultural insight
  • You are paying for your education – take advantage of every part of it.


A seminar involves a much smaller number of students than in a lecture and it gives you the chance to discuss a previous lecture or specific topic. All students in the group are expected to participate in the discussion and attend every seminar. You may ask questions if you don’t understand as the atmosphere is more informal than a lecture. Preparation and reading beforehand are essential. You may disagree with the opinions of other students or even the staff and discuss the reasons why; this is expected and encouraged. What you say should be informed by reading and having critically thought through the topic.


You will also get personal tutorials with your Personal Tutor about general academic matters and more personal/welfare issues if you need to discuss these with anyone. In some subject areas, students will be offered a limited number of hours per semester of one to one meetings with academic staff, usually to discuss an essay, an upcoming exam or a project the student is working on.

Teaching Times

Depending on your subject area (Humanities or Sciences), you can expect a wide variety of combinations of lectures, seminars and private study time. The smaller the number of lecture and seminar hours, the more intense the contents discussed and the more weight is put on private study. To look at examples of hours and distribution, go to the module catalogue, pull up any module information by clicking on its number – in the description under ‘Teaching and Learning Methods’ you will find that information.

Working in small groups/teamwork

We very much encourage our students to work in groups/teams to solve problems, work on a presentation, carry out a project etc; this is helpful in developing your social, interpersonal and team skills, which are important qualities that many employers are looking for. It is therefore very important that you try your hardest to contribute fully to the work of the group you are in; do not sit back and let others do all the work just because you are shy of speaking or expressing your ideas. Some of your group work will be given marks as part of the University assessment so it is important that you participate fully in the task required.

Private study

We cannot stress enough the importance of self study at a UK university. We want to encourage you to be an independent and active learner. As well as the formal hours on your timetable you will be expected to devote a lot of time to reading, researching, revising and making notes on your own and you must be self disciplined enough to devote a large part of your time to this; particularly if you are a postgraduate student.

You can get advice about this for your Personal Tutor at the beginning of your studies if you are finding this difficult; it is an important skill to learn if you are to be successful during your time with us.

For additional information, visit the UKCISA website.

Assessment Methods

Assessment is by written, practical and oral examinations. Coursework and projects may also be assessed. You will complete the same assessments as full-degree students.
In many modules, you may find only one exam at the end of the semester that will count for 100% of the grade. The final exam will test the understanding of the covered lectures and seminars, and can consist of essay-type answers, a full essay or multiple choice questions.

In other modules you may find ongoing ‘exams’ like oral presentations or essays.
Sometimes you may even be given a grade for active participation. These will evaluate specific phases of the semester, and specific skills and knowledge you may have acquired in team work.

For each module, you will receive information on the weight of each exam – here an example:

70% Written Examination  -  Answer 4 out of 6 questions

10% Presentation - Oral presentation

20% Other - Individual essay related to the group oral presentation (1000 words)

Each module has its own examination processes and schedule; information on this will be given to all students at the beginning of their modules. The concrete dates will often only be communicated a few weeks after the beginning of the semester.

You should be aware of the rough time frame of the exams in order not to schedule travels during that time; you should also read through the rules of examinations.

Exam modi can be very different from what  you are used to; it is highly recommended to access past exam papers early in the semester to have a concrete idea of what will be expected of you.

Please note: for students studying at Newcastle University in semester one and whose following semester at home starts in early January, we will make arrangements for you to be assessed so you can start your next semester on time.