Amanda Blog 5: Academic Experience

By Amanda Chan (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).

Just in case you haven’t seen blog posts on academic similarities or differences by other global ambassadors, let’s start with a myth buster. There is the myth or impression that exchange/ study abroad students don’t have to work hard, they can travel around and chill since all they need is a pass. I am not sure about other universities, but for most exchange/ study abroad students from UoM, marks from abroad are going to be converted and will contribute to your final degree grade in Manchester. So, always WORK HARD, PLAY HARD.

I am glad that to me, the general outline of courses (or what we usually call modules) in ANU are similar to that in UoM. However, this differs from faculty to faculty so fortunately enough, I didn’t need to spend a lot of time getting used to the new academic system. So let’s break down the similarities and differences between ANU and UoM. (*there might be differences depending on the courses you choose)

University of Manchester V.S. Australian National University
-Course information posted on blackboard -Course information posted on wattle
-Only Powerpoint slides provided on blackboard -Powerpoint slides and recordings provided on wattle
-Around 2 sections per course each week -Around 3 sections per course each week
-Have practical, field trips and or seminars -Have practical, field trips and or tutorials
-There are Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) session for some courses, conducted by students who studied the course in previous year
-Seminars mostly conducted by lecturer -Tutorials mostly conducted by tutor, not lecturer/ conveyer
-Both lectures and seminars take attendance -Only tutorials take attendance
-Possible to have courses without exams -Possible to have courses without exams
-Final Exam contributes to less than 50% of the final mark -Final Exam contributes to less than 50% of the final mark
-No mid semester exam -Possible to have mid semester exam
-Other than numbers, marks could be graded as first class, second-first, second-second, third or fail -Other than numbers, marks could be graded as High Distinction, Distinction, Credit, Pass or fail
-40% as passing mark -50% as passing mark
-Computer labs with PC -Computer labs with PC and Mac
-Assignments submission in soft and sometimes hard copy as well -Assignments submission in soft and sometimes hard copy as well
-Turn-it-in is used to assess plagiarism -Turn-it-in is used to assess plagiarism
-We could address lecturers by first name -We could address lecturers by first name
-Questions and participation throughout lectures are encouraged -Questions and participation throughout lectures are encouraged
-There is required and recommended readings for each lecture -There is required and recommended readings for each lecture

Last but not least, one of the main differences between my academic experience in ANU and UoM was choosing courses and working out my own timetable. When I was in Manchester, most modules are compulsory and hence, I didn’t have to choose what modules to take and the timetable is worked out for me. As for ANU, I have to choose all courses on my own, with the guidance of academic advisors. I also have to work out timetable clashes and choose different tutorial timeslots to avoid or minimize clashes. The timetable builder on ANU website (http://timetable.anu.edu.au/class/modules/byo.asp) helped a lot. Since you get to pick all the courses you take, other than judging on topics and course structure, you could choose them base on your references like assignment components, lectures and tutorials hour, work load etc. And needless to say, always try to pick courses that you are interested in but could not take in your home university.

All in all, I am enjoying my time abroad and am happy with the course choices I made. Hope that you will as well. 🙂

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