Academic Expectations at UWA

By Rachael Harrison, University of Western Australia

This is my second post in a very short space of time. But I’ve finally finished, my first semester here at UWA. I’ve had a total of fourteen assignments and 3 exams, which actually means I’ve done more work then I would have in Manchester! Apparently there is a ruling here that exams can only be weighted a certain percentage, so my exams were only 40% which is at least 20% less than back home, plus in some you don’t even need to pass the exam to pass the unit. However, Australian universities seem to look their assignments and particular group ones! The system over here works on a continual assessment basis, hence why I had so many. This has led me to have mixed responses to the units I have partaken in this term, in which I took all Earth science units.

Physical geography here is part of the Earth science department, so many of the actually geography units are based around the human side of the subject. The units I took this semester were: Environmental policy and planning, Environmental change, Environmental hydrology and Land rehabilitation. Environmental change proved to be my favourite by far. The course was so well organised and gave us some insight into the potential changes to global infrastructure, through increasing climate change. My policy and planning unit also gave some interesting insights into how policies are passed through governments and the extent to which politics and science are majorly conflicted. Next semester I plan to branch out beyond my geography studies and partake in an indigenous studies unit, in order to get to know a little about Australian history. They are also very accommodating to the fact that many students can live more than an hour away from the university, so all lectures are recorded. It also helps to accommodate for any timetable clashes that frequently occur.

All in all the system has its similarities with the UK, but it also has some distinct differences. They seem to be much more relaxed about workloads here, with many of my assignments getting extended deadlines and you can appeal any marks that you receive if you are not happy with things. Students can also partake in ‘Broadening’ units. This means you have to a certain amount you have to take a certain number of these to be able to graduate. You’ll find that in some of your second year modules you have third/fourth years. It also means that are some people that have technically completed 3rd year, but have to come back for a semester to complete a single broadening unit, its all a little bit complicated.

So after a truck load of assignments and a few exams, my first semester at UWA has now ended. It seem like only yesterday I arrived ad I can remember how I felt the first night I arrived. Now I have to pack up my room and move all my stuff until the semester starts again at the end of February. Its sad to think that in only a couple of days time, I will be saying goodbye to the people who were only here for one semester. Many friendships have been formed and also the odd deal that we will go and visit them! Four months seems like a long time but in reality its flies by. I now prepare myself for a three month long Christmas break, in which much travelling will be done. I will spend my first three weeks travelling down the east coast, before flying out to New Zealand after the New Year. I hope to post sometime in the New year to update you all on my travels.

See you all in 2016!!!

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