In Australian universities students are expected to be very independent in the ways they manage their studies. No one will monitor your progress for you, so it is important right at the beginning of your studies to ensure you have everything you need
- Check that you have access to the LMS (Learning Management System – the digital space for each subject)
- Look at the Subject Guides for all your subjects
- Ensure you know the weekly schedule for each subject and plan accordingly.
Types of classes
The types of classes you have will depend on which subjects you are studying, but most subjects have some kind of lecture, where you listen and take notes, and some kind of tutorial or practical class, where you discuss or practice what you have learned. Most subjects have a blend of online learning and face-to-face activities.
- A lecture is a formal presentation by an academic staff member (a lecturer), usually to a large number of students.
- A tutorial ‘tute’ or ‘workshop’ is a small class where students ask questions and discuss key topics of the subject with their tutors.
- A practical class (or ‘prac’) is a small class where students get hands-on practice of what they have been learning in other classes.
- A laboratory class (or ‘lab’) is a small class conducted in a science laboratory where students practice scientific activities.
You will need to keep up with the readings for your subject, plan your assessments and do independent research. You should approach learning materials with an open mind, asking questions and taking lots of notes about your ideas. Your lecturers and tutors will often expect you to speak up in class, so don’t be shy about this.
- Be aware that if you need help, your teachers will expect you to ask.
One of the key challenges that international students often have when studying in Australia is the expectation that students think critically about what they are studying and discuss and challenge the ideas they encounter. Students are encouraged to debate ideas and challenge each other (it also is acceptable for students to challenge teachers). This often involves disagreeing with others and can therefore sometimes feel uncomfortable. However, as you progress through your university studies you will become more familiar with this approach.
- To develop your critical thinking skills, try to ask as many questions as you can about when reading the materials in your subjects.