Frequently Asked Questions

How will I develop as a Learner at University?

The way you learn at University will be different from school or college.  At University you will be expected to develop the skills to be an independent learner.

An independent learner knows:

  • What they need to learn
  • Their own strengths and weakness
  • Their own learning styles
  • How to get help if they need it

As you develop as an independent learner you take personal satisfaction in learning as much as you can. Although your tutors will give guidance on resources you need, you should also seek out your own resources. You will be keen to develop personal strategies for learning and reflect on what and how you learn.

How can I improve my learning skills?

Try to be actively engaged with your studies and always seek to improve your results.

  • Identify your strengths: Think how you can use them to your best advantage, but also how you can make them even stronger
  • Identify your weaknesses: Actively explore ways to address these and turn them into strengths.
  • Find help and guidance with the Feedback First tutors - see details on the Canvas site or Student Learning Services.

How does feedback help develop learning skills?

  • Remember that all of us in universities receive feedback on a regular basis, whether students or staff
  • Be open to feedback, even though it may sometimes be given less sensitively than it should; don’t be defensive or closed to the idea of feedback, and look for the useful comments, positive or negative
  • Don’t feel that you necessarily have to accept all the feedback comments you receive, but don’t simply reject the feedback out of hand
  • Actively reflect upon the feedback and develop practical ways to adapt your learning in light of it. Put these changes into practice thereafter
  • Do approach tutors & seek clarification if you are unclear about aspects of their feedback.
  • See our Feedback Policy.

Where do I find information on my modules?

Canvas is the intranet site at the University which houses all the materials for your modules. This will include details of how each module will run; materials you need for tutorials and lectures, reading lists and announcements. You should check Canvas very regularly. Once matriculated, you will gain access to Canvas and the module information relevant to you.

Where do I find information about the University?

The portal is a good place to start. This can be accessed on the website (bottom right of the home page), once you have log in details. The portal gives up to date information and news, along with key information such as semester dates, exam information, access to University regulations, your grades etc. Make sure you familiarize yourself with its contents and keep checking it throughout semester.

What are the semester dates?

The semester dates are available here.

How will I be taught?

You will attend lectures where there could be 100’s of students present. Normally handouts will be provided on Canvas before lectures. You should take notes of what the lecturer says and listen carefully. Note any points you do not understand to research yourself or ask questions of the lecturer or your tutor later. You should attend all lectures. Some lectures will be recorded so you can listen again to them if required. Lectures generally start at 5 minutes past the hour and finish at 5 minutes to the hour to allow you time to move from class to class.

In addition to lectures you will have tutorials or seminars. They are small groups (10-20 students) where you will have work to discuss and check out your understanding with the tutor. You should prepare any work or reading as required by instructions on Canvas. This is a good opportunity to ask questions.

All teaching staff also have feedback and guidance sessions. This is a time when you can go along to their office to see them and discuss any problems you have, ask questions or receive more feedback. This is a really important resource for students to get one-to-one attention and you should use it. Details of when your lecturer/tutors are available will be on Canvas and in the module outline.

What do I do when I am not in lectures?

A lot of time at University is spent on individual study. Each 20 credit module is the equivalent of 200 hours of study. Individual study makes up a large part of this time. This will include going over notes from lectures, reading, preparing answers to tutorial questions and preparing assignments. This is a big difference from the structure of school or college. However you do not need to study on your own. You can work in groups, which helps you revise and discuss subjects. Do not however work with other students on assessed work, unless it is group work, assessments need to be carried out on your own.

Two heads are better than one

It can be really daunting when you start at University to find your way around and understand how things work. It is much easier if you can hook up with people in your modules. Take every opportunity in tutorials and lectures (without disrupting the classes) to meet people and share information and support. It is likely that you will be given group tasks to do to help you make these connections.


We expect courtesy and good behavior on campus and in classes. Most of this is common sense but remember some key expectations:

  • keep your phone off, or on silent in lectures and classes,
  • do not cause noise or distractions in class
  • treat the staff and your fellow students with respect
  • do not arrive late or leave early from classes without the approval of the lecturer/tutor
  • do prepare fully for tutorials and seminars  by completing any reading or work provided
  • do not eat in classes and leave rubbish lying around
  • when moving around the campus and buildings, remember other people are studying, so do not be too noisy

How does an honours degree work?

Universities work on a credit system so each module taken awards credits towards your degree. A module is usually a subject taken for one semester (12 weeks). An Honours Degree Programme consists of 480 credits, usually taken over 4 years. If you follow a full time 4 year degree then this means you will usually take three 20 credit modules each semester of your first 3 years. In 4th year most students produce a dissertation or similar work, which will count for 60 credits = 3 modules. Some degrees vary slightly and part time degrees take a little longer. Details of the degree programme structure of your degree can be found here.

Can I chose any subject I like?

You can choose the subjects you want to take on an annual basis, from the subjects available in your programme. Some subjects are “core” or “compulsory” for your programme, which means you must take them to be awarded your degree, other subjects are optional and can be chosen from a list in the degree tables.

Sometimes you need to have completed one module before taking another – this is called a “pre-requisite”.

Are subjects at University harder than at school?

Modules in year 1 and 2 of your degree are designed to be more challenging than the levels expected at school. Modules taken in year 3 and 4 (the “honours years”) are more challenging again. Lecturers and tutors understand the step up from school and again into honours to challenging for students and we support you through these transitions.

How will I be assessed?

Each module is assessed to test the learning outcomes of the module. These can be found in the programme table and in the module outline, which you will receive at the start of each module on Canvas – the University intranet site. Assessment types vary including essays, reports, presentations, group work, exams and so on. The module outline will set out the details for each module and the lecturer/tutor will give you more details as required. They will help you understand what is required before you start the assessment and will advise you when they are available to answer questions you may have.

When do I have to complete assignments?

Deadlines are set out on Canvas and in the module outlines. These are strict deadlines. If you submit work late it will have marks deducted and could result in receiving a mark of 0.

How do I submit assignments?

Check Canvas and the module information very carefully as instructions can vary. Check well before the deadline so you do not have a last minute panic.

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is software which checks to ensure your work is your own. Most assignments at the University have to be submitted via Turnitin electronically and, possibly, as well as a hard copy. Turnitin submission is available on Canvas in your module area and it is possible to submit it early to check for any problems in advance of final submission.

What do my marks mean?

All modules are marked against a mark descriptor which describes what the mark means. These marking schemes can be found here.

What feedback can I expect?

You are entitled to feedback within 3 weeks in line with the University . It is your responsibility to pick up feedback, to ask any questions you have to clarify feedback and to reflect on what you will do differently in future.

When do exams take place?

Exams take place at the end of each semester and a timetable is published on the Portal which gives details of when and where all exams will take place. It is your responsibility to check the timetable and make your way to the examination. it is important that you are available for the exams, so do not make arrangements to return home at the end of semester until you know when your exams (if any) take place.

What happens if I am ill or can’t take my exams?

There is a process which allows you to apply to defer, or delay, your exams to the resit diet in particular circumstances. This means that you will take the resit exam, as if it is your first attempt. If you fail that exam you will be offered a resit/reassessment. You must advise the Faculty as quickly as possible, if you need to defer and follow the instructions. If in doubt, speak to your personal tutor - details of your personal tutor can be found on your portal.

What happens if I am ill or can’t hand in an assessment or essay during the semester?

You should contact your module co-ordinator (details are in the module outline on Canvas). If you explain the circumstances to them, they may be able to help you.

What happens if I miss the deadline for handing in a piece of work?

Deadlines are important at University. It is part of being an independent learner that you are able to manage your time and meet deadlines. If there is a good reason why you think you are going to miss a deadline, contact your module co-ordinator before the deadline to explain and ask for help. If you are simply late, still hand in the work. You will still receive marks for the work if it is a few days late, though there will be a deduction of marks due to lateness.

How is my final module mark calculated?

Once all the assessments on the module are completed, the marks from each part will be added together to reach an overall mark. The pass mark in undergraduate modules is 40%.

What happens if I fail a module?

If you fail one or more elements of a module, you will be given the opportunity to resit the exam or assessment. If you pass the assessment when you resit the exam or assessment, your module grade will be “capped” at 40%. This means you cannot receive more than 40% for the module when you resit.

If you fail the resit there are a few more options available to you and your Advisor of Studies will be able to help you with understanding your options.

What happens if I just miss passing a module?

It may be that you will be eligible for compensation if you narrowly fail a module. Compensation allows one module per year in years 1 and 2 to be noted as a pass by compensation, which means you will still receive the credits for that module towards your degree. The decision on compensation is made centrally, annually, after resit diets have taken place. You can find more information on compensation here.

Who can I ask for help?

You will find details on the portal of your:

    • Module Coordinators
    • Programme Director
    • Advisor of Studies
    • Personal Tutor
    • Project Officer for Integrated Degrees

You will find details of your Lecturers and Tutors on Canvas for individual modules.

You can find support services at:

Where can I find out the University rules?

I don’t understand some of the terms used at University

Compensation - The awarding of a pass mark where the module mark is just below the pass mark.

Component of Assessment - A module is assessed by one or more elements of assessment (e.g. examination, coursework, or practical). These components contribute to the overall result for the module.

Credit - A system for determining the time and duration of study needed to gain a particular award. The structure of most taught programmes are expressed in terms of the number of credits required to complete the programme. Credit levels are defined by SCQF. Each credit point represents an average of 10 hours of learning.

Dissertation - An extended piece of written work or research project looking at a subject in more depth. This is often done in the final year of an honours degree programme or as the final piece of work for a masters.

Honours - An honours degree requires more credits than an ordinary degree and for a full time student is normally studied over 4 years. An honours degree requires a minimum of 480 credits with a minimum of 180 at SCQF levels 9 and 10 including at least 90 at level 10. Students are awarded an honours classification (1st, 2:1, 2:2 or 3rd) on completion of their degree.

Module - Undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses are broken down into discrete parts or units.

Compulsory Module - This is a core module which must be taken as part of a particular degree programme and is named in the Degree Programme Table

Optional Module - An elective module that a student may choose to take as part of their degree programme.

Pre-requisites - 

Pre-requisites (compulsory pass) - In order to take module A, a student must pass module B.

Prerequisites (module content) - In order to take module A, a student must have taken and satisfied the published requirements for, although not necessarily passed, module B.

Prerequisites (recommended) - In order to take module A it is recommended that the student has taken and passed module B.

Programme of Study - A Programme of Study incorporates the qualification and, where applicable, the subject(s) studied, for instance, MSc in Investment Analysis. All programmes are modular and based on the accumulation of credit. Credit levels are defined by SCQF. The level and amount of credit required depends on the type of qualification.

Re-assessment - Re-assessment provides students with a second opportunity to demonstrate their learning and their competence to progress to further study. In terms of examinations this may be referred to as a resit.

Faculty - One of the academic areas of the University. Academic units within a faculty are referred to as Divisions.

Semester - The academic year is split into two semesters (Autumn & Spring).

Seminar - A teaching class, overseen by a lecturer, which usually has a smaller number of students than a lecture and is more interactive.

Turnitin - An online plagiarism detection system which works by comparing student assignments against text on the internet and previously submitted assignments.

Tutorial - A small group who meet up with their tutor to discuss their studies.

See Definition of University Terms


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