Your life as a student

How we teach

If you're studying for an undergraduate honours degree, you can generally expect it to be delivered over a three or four year period on a full-time basis. Foundation degrees, which are normally studied with our partner institutions, take two years on a full-time basis. Depending on the nature of your course, your time will be divided between lectures, practical work, professional placements and private study. You'll also attend thought-provoking seminars, tutorials, debates and discussions.

  • During lectures, a large group of you will listen and take notes from a lecturer at the front. Some lecturers do like to interact with their audience, but this depends on the individual and the size of the group.
  • Tutorials are much smaller, more interactive groups. You might tackle certain exercises as a group with a tutor, or simply discuss your course together. 
  • A student who has researched a particular topic usually leads a seminar, acting as a trigger for further group discussion and debate.

If your course includes field work or organised study trips, you'll have the opportunity to take your research out of the university or college and into a real-life setting.

If you're planning to qualify as a health professional, teacher or social worker, undertaking professional placements will be an integral part of your course. Supported by a mentor you'll gain professional experience in schools, the community or clinical practices throughout the south-west region, becoming more autonomous as your studies progress. During your placement you'll follow the normal working pattern of your mentor, which in the case of some of the health professions will include shift work.

Weekly time commitment

How long you spend in the classroom depends on the course you're enrolled on. On average, full-time degree courses require between 15 and 25 hours attendance per week. Some courses, like those within the health professions, may require considerably more contact than this.

In addition to face-to-face learning, we'll expect you to cover a good deal of reading and private study. This is likely to take up a lot of your remaining time. Most mature students recommend treating your course like a full-time job, even if you don’t necessarily follow a 9:00–17:00 working pattern.

Our timetable

Our timetable is operational between 9:00–18:00, although you won’t attend the University the whole of this time. You'll receive a broad timetable when you enrol and this will be refined during your first weeks at University, as you're allocated to smaller groups for seminars, tutorials and laboratory sessions. 

If like many mature students you have caring responsibilities, we'd be happy to discuss this further with you. And although we can’t predict with complete accuracy what your timetable will be, we may be able to give you a good picture of what to expect.

Modules and credits

Individual units of study (known as modules) will make up your course. Within certain defined parameters you may be able to choose some of the modules you study at each stage.

As you're assessed, each module accrues a number of credits and it's the accumulation of these credits at different levels that determines your final award. Honours degrees, for example, are normally worth a total of 360 credits, 120 credits for each of the three levels or stages. 

Assessment

We'll assess you in various ways during your time in higher education. Modern assessment methods may include:

  • coursework (such as reports and essays)
  • presentations (these could be an individual or team effort)
  • short mid-module tests
  • practical examinations (such as teaching or clinical practice)
  • formal examination.

Our Learning Development team can help you improve your confidence, by developing effective strategies to deal with the assessment methods associated with your course.

Where we teach

  • We deliver the majority of our undergraduate honours degrees at our main site at Drake Circus, which is located in Plymouth city centre.
  • We teach the BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) course at the Knowledge Spa, located in the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, The School of Nursing in Exeter and at our Plymouth campus. 
  • We also deliver many of the health professions courses at the Peninsula Allied Health Centre at the University of St Mark and St John, which is on the outskirts of Plymouth.

Part-time study

We've designed most of our courses to be studied full time. In some cases you may be able to join a full-time course and study reduced hours over a longer period of time. We'll make every effort to accommodate you, but timetabling means that we can't always guarantee that your attendance would be restricted to one or two days per week.

Find out more about your life as a student

Visit us at one of our open days to speak with current students and academic staff and discover what it is like to be a student at Plymouth.