By Jude Wiggins, Geography, University of Queensland, Australia.
Next week I return to University for my second semester at UQ after a 3 month Summer holiday. As this marks the halfway point of my study abroad experience I think that now is a good time to reflect on the Academic differences between the University of Queensland and the University of Manchester.
As a Geography student on exchange I have no compulsory classes which has been nice as I have quite a lot of freedom to choice what I want to study. However I was advised to take classes that will help to inform my dissertation research which will be conducted once I return to the UK. It was compulsory for me to take 4 classes per semester whilst at UQ as this was a requirement of my Visa. I was told that there is a possibility you can be deported if you don’t meet these requirements (eek!). I was lucky enough to take classes across 4 different departments; Geography, Sociology, Politics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies – all of which were interesting and I really enjoyed. Each of these classes were taught in a completely different way to how they would have been in Manchester which was really refreshing to experience.
The Forgan Smith Building
At UQ attendance at lectures is optional as all powerpoints and podcasts are uploaded online onto BlackBoard. However tutorials are compulsory and your attendance and participation counts towards your overall mark for that class. You are graded on the quality of discussion which you bring to a tutorial so it’s essential to do all readings and engage in class. You are also assessed in several different ways for just one class. Back in Manchester I would normally have two or three essays plus an exam for one class. At UQ it is common for you to be assessed on essays, annotated bibliographies, a presentation, participation and preparation for tutorials and an exam for just one class. This might sound quite intense but it’s actually totally fine. There’s less pressure on all of your deadlines as you know they count towards a smaller percentage of your overall grade. Also, you sort of get into the swing of constantly working towards little deadlines as you have so many of them!
UQ lecturers are just as friendly as the ones at UoM and they all promote ‘Open Door’ policies. This means you can swing by whenever you have a question or problem. There are also online forums on BlackBoard for each course where students discuss lecture content and assessment which is really helpful – especially as during the first few weeks of semester I felt quite overwhelmed by how many deadlines I had to meet!
The Great Court at UQ!
Aside from lectures and classes UQ is a great place to study as the learning spaces are so beautiful. Pictured above is the Great Court – on a sunny day (which is all the time in Brisbane) it is common to see people lying out on the grass reading or working on essays or in study groups. There are heaps of libraries to choose from – all of which have air conditioning which is a blessing in the Summer months! It is also A LOT easier to find a computer on campus compared to Manchester.
So far my time at UQ has been great – bring on second semester!