School Structure

Oct9SchoolStructure.JPGThe way school is done here is different, and quite frankly, I think I like the English school system better. Like any system, it has its disadvantages, but it honestly parallels the usage of the metric measurements in the UK (and most of the world), and how Americans use the standard measurement system. They both get the job done, but one is easier to convert, simpler to use, and a little bit more logical. Overall, it is just different.

Several times, I have been asked by English students what I am studying. I respond "I am doing my generals," and they look at me, confused. They do not know what generals are, because the education programs here are not interdisciplinary, which means they only study things related to their major. If they are a psychology student, they do not have to take a certain number of English courses, or biology courses, or algebra courses, but they only take courses within the psychology department. The disadvantages is that students do not get much freedom in what classes they are taking, nor do they get opportunities to explore different classes in different career paths if they are unsure of what they want to do. However, as a result, it only takes three years to complete a bachelor's degree.

Another thing that is different is how classes are executed. Unlike the American class schedule, where classes meet 2-3 times a week for about an hour, I have only one class a day, and it pretty much goes all day. Classes usually begin with lecture, and these are done in either a large class room or a lecture hall, and it is conducted by the module (which is a fancy word for course, or class) leader, in front of many students. Depending on the class, that usually lasts one to two hours. Then there is usually a break, and class continues with a seminar.

Seminars are smaller groups, conducted by either the module leader or one of the module tutors, where assignments, reading materials, and other course materials are further discussed. In addition to seminars, every two to four weeks, we have tutorials, which can be led by any of the people previously discussed.

Tutorials are almost the exact same thing as seminars, but are in even smaller groups, so every student can ask the questions they need, and everyone gets a chance to discuss the reading materials.

That being said, there is a lot to read for every class. However, not every class has a required book. If it does, students usually do not have to buy it because it can be checked out at the library, or they offer the free e-book online. I did not have to buy a single book for any of my classes! Reading that is not done through a class book is either freely given in packets or hand books by the module leader.

The only measurable downside for this style of education is there is not a lot of room for the jacks of all trades, the students who wants to double major, or for the students who are not sure what they want to do. Students here get a faster paced, more specialized education, but not a lot of wiggle room.

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