The universities in Australia are known for their high quality standards in research and teaching. Of course, the students also benefit from this in the courses. The courses in Australia convey the course content in a practical way and prepare the students well for their later professional life.
Courses are essential components of the undergraduate degree as well as the Master by Coursework and postgraduate studies. In many cases, students completing a Master by Research or doing a doctorate take no or only a few courses. Independent research work is the focus of your studies.
Types of courses in Australia
At universities in Australia, it is common for students to take four courses in one semester. Sometimes it is also possible to complete just three courses. Note: The English word for course Course is indeed used in some universities for courses, but at other universities complete degree programs are meant. The individual courses are also referred to as subjects. However, within the course catalogs of the individual universities, the names are so clear that there should be no risk of confusion.
The courses are assigned to different academic years. In each course, students receive a certain number of credit points.
A distinction is made between the following types of courses:
- Compulsory Courses: Compulsory courses in a degree program
- Elective Courses: Courses that are not compulsory. Students can usually choose such elective courses from their degree program as well as from other subjects.
At universities in Australia, a course often consists of the two lectures lecture and tutorial. Depending on the subject, there may be other courses.
The lectures have the function, to convey the course content theoretically. They are formal courses that usually consist essentially of a lecture by the lecturer to which the students listen. The events in introductory lectures are often quite large. In later semesters and with increasing specialization, they get smaller and have more of a seminar character. Then the lecturers usually involve the students more intensively.
The tutorials complement the lectures by revisiting the content. The students work through the material of the lectures as well as various additional texts together with the tutor. The tutorials consist usually of no more than 20 students. The tutorials are usually more interactive than the lectures. The focus is on discussions and group work, among other things. Older students who are currently completing a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate studies often work as tutors.
Practical sessions or laboratories, for example, are among the courses in medical or engineering subjects. The students carry out experiments or other practical exercises under supervision. As the name suggests, this type of course in Australia focuses on putting what has been learned into practice.
Through field trips, students are given the opportunity to practical experience to collect in their field of study. The Australian universities offer field trips, for example in environmental, natural or social science subjects. In many cases, these courses also offer a good opportunity to get to know Australia better as a country.
Course catalogs at Australian universities
Which academic year a course is assigned to can be recognized by the numbering in the course catalog. However, not all universities in Australia have the same numbering system. In many cases, the courses in the Bachelor’s degree programs are numbered in ascending order according to the academic year. For example, the numbers of the Bachelor courses in the first year start with 1, in the second year with 2 and in the third year with 3. The Australian universities have very different systems for the master’s courses. The websites of the universities provide individual explanations for the numbering of the course levels, so that you should inform yourself there before choosing a course.
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Types of examinations and grading in Australia
The assessment of the academic performance in a course is not, as is usual in this country, only based on a final exam or term paper. Instead, the students have to repeatedly perform different services for a course during the semester. Typical are, for example
- Group work
The exact course achievements to be achieved differs depending on the subject and university. The final grade for the course is made up of the usually differently weighted examination performances. The grading system used to assess performance may vary depending on the university. A bad grade in an examination is therefore not the same as a bad overall grade. Smaller mistakes, perhaps also depending on the form of the day, can be compensated for by other services for the course. That is certainly a great advantage of this examination system.
Workload for the courses
The large number of examinations in the courses means that many students perceive the workload in Australia as higher than at the universities in Germany. You can’t put off learning in Australia. Instead, they are encouraged to continuously from the start of the course with the subject matter to deal if they want to get good grades.
The courses in Australia also include a high proportion of self-study, for example in the form of reading material that has to be mastered. It is advisable for the students to actually read the texts in order not to attract attention. An active participation in the courses in Australia namely demanded much stronger than in Germany.
The number of semester hours per week at Australian universities depends on the subject. Humanities students usually complete 12 to 16 hours per week. Anyone studying a so-called laboratory-intensive subject such as medicine should plan 24 to 30 semester hours per week. In some of the courses, attendance is compulsory. Since international students are obliged to study actively by the student visa, they should attend all courses regularly, even those without compulsory attendance.
Atmosphere in courses in Australia
The courses in Australia are usually relaxed. The lecturers are usually addressed by their first name. It is uncommon to use academic titles such as “professor” when addressing them. There is a lively and free culture of discussion in the courses, so that the students can actively deal with the content. The lecturers at the universities in Australia are known for their great commitment and good contact with the students. The fact that the universities in Australia see themselves as service providers for the students is also reflected in the lecturers and the way they teach. The fact that the courses are often quite small promotes one personal atmosphere and good support in the courses.
Australian courses and differences to Germany
- The courses in Australia usually consist of several courses.
- Students in Australia do not take a major exam for a course. Instead, you will provide several small achievements over the entire semester, which will be included in the grading.
- An active participation in the courses is required.
- There is a type of master’s program ( Master by Research ) in which students often do not attend any or only a few courses.
- The relationship between students and lecturers is generally looser than in Germany.