Academic Life

University study

The academic life of a university revolves around the connection between finding and developing new knowledge (research) and spreading that knowledge to others (teaching). Lecturers both teach and have their own areas of research. Students come to university to learn and increase their knowledge. But along the way, they also add to the knowledge of others.

Expect to be challenged and to learn new skills. Lecturers will introduce you to new perspectives, information and ways of thinking. You will change and develop personally and professionally; cultivating your ability to continue learning.

University study requires critical thinking. You are encouraged to seek out different points of view, consider their perspective and how they relate to the topic, and write coherently about what you have concluded. You can find more information about critical thinking or watch this video for opinions from other students.

University study also requires independent learning. This does not mean you will be ignored and left to try and sort everything out for yourself. But it does require self-discipline, making decisions and being responsible for your actions. In the following video some students explain what independent learning means for them.

We have put together some information for you to use depending on your background:

Finding time for study

Study at university requires a significant time investment. Students often comment that balancing their everyday commitments with study requirements can be quite challenging. So it is important to carefully consider how many papers you should take, especially when beginning your study. 

  • You should be realistic about the number of courses you can take in a semester and consider all your existing commitments. You will need to spend approximately 10 to 12 hours each week for a 15 credit single semester course, or about 5 to 6 hours per week for a 15 credit double semester course.
  • If you are new to university study or returning after a long gap, try one or two courses to start with. Once you are confident and have good study routines in place, you might find you can take on a heavier workload.
  • If you are working full time (or have a young family that you look after full time), we recommend that you take no more than 30 credits (two courses) in a semester.

To help you identify how you could fit study into your regular routine use our Workload Planning Tool. It is an interactive tool which displays a list of every day activities and asks you to estimate how much time you spend on each activity each week. It also asks you how many courses you want to take and will provide you with some helpful feedback on your results.

Interaction with teaching staff

On campus

When studying on campus, you will have the opportunity to interact with teaching staff in class, during their office hours, and by using online communication tools. Lecturers welcome engaged and interested students who are keen to improve their understanding.


One of the major differences of distance learning is the level and type of interaction you have with your lecturers. Unlike campus-based courses you do not have the same opportunity to meet face to face with your lecturers on a regular basis.

However, our staff can be contacted at times that may be more convenient to you. We also encourage students to take full advantage of the online communication tools available to interact with lecturers. Contact workshops are also an opportunity to meet your lecturer in person.

It is important to remember that you are not alone in your study experience and lecturers are still available should you need to seek help or ask advice.

Interaction with other students

Meeting people and making new friends through your study is one of the bonuses of university study.

Many classes involve group work with other students who are studying the same course as you. This may be assessed work (eg presentation, case study report), or class work (eg peer marking, lab groups).

Most classes have online discussion forums which allow you to ask questions or share insights, information or resources that are relevant to the subject. Some classes arrange formal study groups. But in many cases, students use their own initiative to gather with others and discuss the topic, plan their assignment or study together.

In addition to these structured interactions, there will always be opportunities to connect with other students; from catching up over coffee after class, to engaging with a social media site for your course.

Course work and assessment

Course work for your study is designed to introduce you to new ideas, perspectives, experiences and theories to develop your own knowledge and understanding. Typically, each course has a number of formal assessments which can be a variety of forms. For more information see course work and assessment.

Required skills

University study requires that you have a range of knowledge and skills. Fore more information see what skills do I need?

Online learning

Our online learning environment is used by on campus and distance students.