It’s the first week of class and you have just been overloaded with information. Honestly, this is your first class, in the first week, of your first semester of uni ever, and your lecturers are already talking about assessment due dates and exams. Give us a break! Unfortunately they need to get through all of this info at beginning of the semester because they won’t have time in the busy class schedules for the rest of the year. But do not fear! The course description is here.
Course descriptions are probably better known as your guide to passing uni. Seriously, these things are amazing resources. They tell you all you need to know about your subjects, which includes the skills you need to master, when assignments are due, and even how much assessments are worth in your overall grade. My biggest piece of advice is to use them and use them regularly! So here is what you need to know about them.
First of all, they are located on moodle under each of your different subject shells. I would highly recommend printing them off at the start of the semester as it makes for easy reference. The course description gives you a brief overview of what you will be studying in each particular subject. The overview includes what will be covered each week in your lectures, tutorial activities and also any extra readings that need to be completed that week. They also outline what is to be expected of you in relation to class behaviour and attendance. In some subjects at uni, if you are not present at a certain number of tutorials or lectures you can fail based on attendance alone, so make sure you look this one up!
Most lecturers and tutors will give you their emails and contact details at the beginning of semester, but if you’re like me then you will probably have written it down on a small piece of paper which is misplaced after the first week, along with all the other small but important pieces of info you are given. But do not stress, all of their contact details are located in these wonderful course descriptions.
Assessments are probably one of the most stressful parts of uni. All of your knowledge is being put to the test in these assignments and exams and they can potentially determine weather you pass or fail the unit. One of the most common mistakes is not looking at the assessment criteria for each assignment, which basically tells you what you need to demonstrate in order to pass. Within the course description you will find a breakdown of each assessment task. You will find the due date, learning objectives and even how much time should be spent on the assignment. Most importantly, you will find the assessment gird/criteria or be told where you can go to obtain a copy. These give a detailed explanation of what is required in regards to detail and clarity of your work if you are to achieve the best possible mark for the assignment.
Plagiarism is a huge deal when it comes to assignments. It basically refers to ensuring that the work you submit has been completed by you and you haven’t just taken large pieces of other people’s work and presented it as your own. Full information about plagiarism is located, yep you guessed it, in your course description. Aren’t they just amazing!
Both the uni and lecturers understand that there are certain events that we can’t control in life, whether it be illness or family emergencies. Often these speed bumps life tends to throw at us may mean you cannot attend an exam or get an assignment in on time. Although uni is pretty strict on getting your work in on time, they are not going to fail you if there is a legitimate and serious reason for you being unable to complete your work (having to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones does not count as a good reason). However, you will need to apply for special consideration and your course description will tell you where to go to achieve this. If you know in advance (with good reason) that you cannot hand in an assignment on time, you can also request for an extension, which will need to filed at least 7 days before the assignment is due, but once again, full details are located in your course description.
So it’s week five of the semester and you know you have an assignment due soon, but for the life of you, you cannot remember what it was on or how much time you have to complete it. How on earth are you going to find out this information? YOUR COURSE DESCRIPTION. If you use them, and use them regularly, you will find that uni life isn’t quite as scary as you first thought.