Information and Advice

Information and Advice

We recommend that as soon as you have seen your Adviser of Studies, you check the date, time and venue of your course registration sessions/first class meetings, details of which will be in the small booklet provided by your Adviser. At these sessions you will have the opportunity to meet staff who will be teaching you and you will also be given more information about the course programme.

School Office: A13 Taylor Building. This is the place to go if the information about courses, timetables and rooms on the Portal isn't clear – or if you can't get into your Portal! You'll be using the Office a lot, for handing in work, among other things, so check it out as soon as you can. The office staff can also assist with any non-academic queries you might have and are happy to help you so please do not hesitate to ask. If they can’t answer your query they can refer you to an appropriate person or university section.

Who's who?

Teaching staff have different titles. There are Professors, Readers, Senior Lecturers, Lecturers, Teaching Fellows, Research Fellows and Teaching Assistants. All except Research fellows are involved in teaching, and you'll almost certainly meet every kind in your first year.

Each course is run by a Course Convener, or Course Coordinator (different names for same role), while lectures are usually given by different members of the Course Team. Tutorials are led by Course Tutors, who are either full-time members of staff, or fully qualified Teaching Assistants, usually working for a postgraduate degree.

The names of all the people teaching you will be provided in the course documentation which will be available on MyAberdeen, the University of Aberdeen’s virtual learning environment, from the start of Freshers' week. 


Once you've registered your choice of courses and completed your electronic registration you'll be able to find information about timetables on your Student Hub. But be warned! This can be misleading (and alarming!) at first glance, as it often lists ALL the tutorials for each course.

Remember that you only need to go to ONE tutorial or language group for each course every week. In some cases you can register for this electronically through MyAberdeen but in other cases you will be allocated to a group.

When you look at your timetable, you will probably find that you only have classes in each subject for 3 or 4 hours a week. This is because you are expected to do a considerable amount of independent study (about 6 hours a week for each 15-credit course). For instance, if you are studying a play or a novel, you will need to read it in your own time, before the tutorial on that book. You will not be reading it in class. So full-time students will be working for a total of around 36 hours per week. You need to bear this in mind if you take a part-time job.

All this means that you need to manage your time carefully, and organize your work efficiently (and these skills will be some of the most important you have to offer employers when you leave here.)

As a first step, get a diary and write all your classes (with rooms) in it, and keep it with you at all times.

Choosing Courses

In first year, every student in the University takes 4 courses in each semester (half-year). Your Adviser of Studies will help you to choose them, but it's important that you look in advance at the Catalogue of Courses at what's available, so that you can take time to make up your mind before seeing your Adviser.

This means that many of you will be studying in other departments in other Schools as well as ours, but we very much hope you will like what we have to offer enough to stay with us throughout your degree. But even if you only take one course with us, we hope you will find the experience memorable and challenging.

When you look through the Catalogue of Courses, all those codes might look very confusing, but in fact they're quite easy to understand.

  • Letters tell you the subject: e.g. EL for English, GM for German etc. Most Language and Linguistics courses are also presently coded as EL.
  • The first digit tells you about the level: 1006 is a first-year course, 2005 is 2nd-year etc.
  • The 2nd number tells you when the course runs: 0 means it's in the first semester, 5 means it's in the 2nd.
  • (You don't need to worry about the last 2 numbers, which simply identify one course from another.)
  • So, EL1506 is an English course, at Level 1, running in the 2nd semester.
Lectures, Tutorials and Language Classes

What's the difference between Lectures, Tutorials and Language Classes?

  • What are lectures for? Lectures are when all the students on a course come together, which means there may be as many as 300 students in some lectures (in English, for instance).
  • Lectures can do many different things, and at the beginning of a new course, your lecturer should tell you what he/she wants you to get out of them. Lectures can provide you with information, or introduce you to different ways of thinking about a subject. Most important of all, they're there to stimulate your interest in the subject. So DON'T spend the time trying to write it all down. Make selective notes on the key points (lecturers will often provide hand-outs or use Powerpoint slides to indicate what these are), on things that really interest you or puzzle you.

    The following link (from the Student Learning Services portfolio) suggests some strategies for note-taking:
  • What are tutorials for? Tutorials are your opportunity to raise any questions or problems you're having with the course material, including lectures, and to share your ideas about what you're studying. There'll only be around 15 students in the group, so there's plenty of chance for you to have your say. And it's likely that you'll be asked to give brief presentations at some point. The most important thing is that you prepare properly, doing the reading set for the week and/or any preparation that your tutor asks for. And be sure to take notes when you're preparing, whether you've been asked to make a presentation or not – it's much easier to talk in class if you've got something to refer to.
  • What are language classes for? Language classes aim to enhance your abilities in writing, reading, listening and speaking, so they take a variety of forms, ranging from explanation and practice of written structures to oral discussion and presentations. Most are small group classes, which means they will help you to get to know other students and your tutor. In order to get the most out of language classes, you'll need to prepare beforehand, take an active part in class and do follow-up work afterwards. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of anything; the tutor is there to help your learning. If you want to make progress, what you do on your own will be at least as important, if not more important, than what you do in class. Your course documentation will tell you what to prepare from week to week and will include advice on how best to use your private study time, but don't hesitate to ask your tutor for further help.
Who to contact if...

Student Support: Starting university can be a daunting experience. Even if things do get off to a flying start you may find you run into problems later in the year. There are lots of people on campus who can help you at all stages of your degree. If you need some personal advice and support, or just someone to talk to, contact your adviser or one of the Student Support Services.

Advice about specific courses: Course coordinators/conveners are happy to answer queries. They, and all members of staff, have Office Hours, which will be posted on their office doors. This is when staff are available to advise you on any worries you may have about your work or your attendance, and to provide you with more feedback on assessments, if you need it. You don't need to make an appointment, as Office Hours are intended to be times when you can just drop in. Staff are always happy to see students at these times.

Student Learning Services can help you with your learning strategies:

IT Support Services can help you with problems regarding email or any other IT Issues. The IT Helpdesk is in Edward Wright Building.