Arts: 'I expected more tuition'

June 1, 2007

Arts: 'I expected more tuition'

I've been at university since the end of September. This basically means that if I had any ideas on what I was expecting from my course, I have long since forgotten them. However, thinking back, I've come up with the most important parts. And the first one is that I expected to be taught.

I don't mean that I expected to sit in a classroom from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon listening to the lecturer read from a textbook, but a total of seven hours a week for an arts degree would have seemed ridiculously small had I been informed of it a year ago. I just hope to Christ that there's a little more tuition next year.

I have worked out that I pay a total of £15 an hour for my course, inclusive of lectures, seminars and any other time that I come within vocal range of a member of the faculty. A first-year zoology student pays £5 per hour for a course that includes a high level of laboratory hours and practical work. Why do I get the feeling that I'm subsidising someone else's degree? Value for money aside, I'm broadly happy with my degree, such as it is, and I'm only sorry that there isn't a little more of it.

Unfortunately I can see why it is that there are fewer hours on this course, and it basically comes down to this: English is a personal theme.

It requires that you engage personally with the subject matter. If a lecturer says that two and two make four, then he can usually be trusted, but if the same person says that a poem produces a certain effect, then the only person who can decide whether he is right is you.

I think my course is fulfilling its obligations but could do more. I think some of the time could be put to better use, by allowing more teaching hours, and I'm hoping this will be the case in the next few years. On the plus side, the library is huge, the work is interesting, and the staff are, if not entirely sane, then not yet diagnosed. As a way of spending three years, I can't think of any that are much better.

Science: 'The teaching is superb'

I love my course! I think it offers value for money. We have great teachers, who know what they're on about.

I knew there would be a lot of hours when I opted for a science subject, just because of the sheer volume of things you have to know.

Twenty hours a week can be a little daunting, but it's a course I chose, which makes the whole thing easier.

The level of teaching is generally superb. As you'd expect, some lecturers are better than others, and the odd one can drone on a bit, but the staff tend to be good teachers and genuinely enthusiastic about their subject.

That's one of the reasons I enjoy the course.

As far as the course meeting my expectations goes, I researched the course carefully, so I knew what I was getting into. The mix of lectures and practical sessions is what I expected, although to be honest, it's hard to remember what I thought the course would be like before I started. I think the prospectus gave an accurate picture of the course. The outline that it gave has proved to be true, although there is obviously far more detail from up close. I think we were told exactly what we needed to know and were given a good idea of what to expect.

I find the workload manageable. The course has a high number of contact hours, but by the time they're finished most of the work tends to have been done. About 30 per cent of my course grade comes from essays and so on, but the practical sessions make it hard to compare with other subjects.

As for how the course scores in terms of employability, I'm pretty sure I could walk into a job with this degree, but I'd be tempted to expand my knowledge, possibly by taking an MA. I'd really like to travel or study abroad after my degree.

I'm really happy I chose to study science, particularly this branch. I wouldn't change it for the world. I think that's the overwhelming view of everyone else on my course too.

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