First year lectures: What should you expect?

First year lectures might not be the first thing that gets most new students excited about coming to university, but what is it that does? Is it Freshers’ Week? Making new friends? Moving out? Or is it all of the above? I’ve always wondered this. I never felt so hyped about school or college, and yet when it came to university, the air was practically vibrating with this continuous buzz of excitement.

I suppose it is all of the above. But there is that thing that I mentioned earlier on, and I know that the thought of coursework, exams and attending classes at nine o’clock every morning isn’t the most appealing out of them all, but the truth is, you choose your courses because you’ll be learning a subject you’re passionate about, whether it’s Science, Photography, Engineering, Dance – the list continues.

I might be one of the minorities, but the thing I was looking forward to most was my lectures. I couldn’t wait to start going back to basics on the subject I loved so much back in school. (I heard you yawning then!)

I’m writing this post to talk about your first week of lectures, to give you some tips on finding your way around and settling down into the realm of student-ism. That isn’t a real word, is it?

So, you’ll arrive on your first day and probably won’t have a clue where you’re supposed to go. Don’t panic, here’s a map:



Or if, like me, you find reading maps just as difficult as trying to solve the great mystery that is the Bermuda Triangle, here’s a list of building names:

CW = Charles Ward
GE = George Eliot
AB = Alan Berry
JS = James Starley

MF = Maurice Foss
BU = Bugatti
GS = Graham Sutherland

JA = Jaguar
WM = William Morris (Lanchester Library is right next to this building!)
FL = Fredrick Lanchester

ET = Ellen Terry
RC = Richard Crossman
JL = Sir John Laing

If you’re wondering why certain buildings are grouped together, this is because these buildings are in very close range – however, all are in short walking distance from each other, so don’t start counting out taxi fares yet!

Just a quick tip: if you have a class in JS234, this means: James Starley, second floor, room 234; if you have a class in GE618, this means George Eliot, sixth floor, room 618… and so on. The first number indicates which floor you’re on, so there may be an instance in which you have a class in CWB40 – this is the Charles Ward Basement, or in GEG31/2 – these are the George Eliot Hillman/Humber lecture theatres (just around the corner from the main GE lobby).

I think that’s everything about the campus. If I’ve missed anything out, leave a comment below and I will answer your questions :) .

So, now onto your first week of lectures…

You’ll likely have swiped an entire shelf of WHSmith stationary into your bag. Don’t be ashamed – I did it too. But you can leave most of it back at your accommodation. It’s my advice that – of course, unless you do an arts subject such as… well… art (or other stationary-happy courses), you only take a pen and a notepad to your lectures, unless told otherwise by your tutors. Note how I say lectures, not seminars. This is because lectures are exactly how you imagine them: you’ll be sitting in a room with about a hundred other students, and your tutor will be talking the entire time. There’s only room to take very minimal notes, perhaps only even to highlight bits of the handouts given, so don’t try to make it pretty. Not just yet. (However, I’d strongly recommend making it pretty when it comes to revising – aesthetically pleasing revision notes are much nicer aids when it comes to exams).

When it comes to seminars, you can be a bit more creative. These are the classes in which you’ll be broken down into smaller, more intimate groups, and the tutor will go into detail on the topics approached during the lecture. Here’s where you’ll have any questions that were raised in the lecture answered, and here’s where you can take more extensive notes (and use that amazing set of highlighters you’ve been so excited about). Make sense?

Another thing I’d advise you to do is record your lectures. Please. This is mega-useful so that if you miss anything, you can go back later and fill in the gaps – a gem when it comes to studying.

I feel like it’s worth mentioning that just because seminars serve as a catch-up for the lecture, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to listen during the lecture. It’s not just you who will get to ask questions during the seminar – the tutor will also ask you. So be prepared. Pay attention, take minimal notes – if you feel it will help – and generally be a good student :D

I think I’ve unCOVered everything. Sorry, that was cheesy, but I couldn’t resist.

Remember that all your classmates are in the exact same boat as you at the moment, so team up and make sure that you don’t go your first week of lectures alone. Stay tuned for more on classes, revision, the all important Harvard Referencing Guide, and general student-y things for the next few weeks!

Peace out! For now…

– Karis :)