Study Culture

Preparing to study

You may not have studied in the UK before. Although you will have to satisfy certain academic requirements to receive an offer, we would recommend that you do some pre-arrival research into UK study methods too. There is an excellent web resource with interactive modules to give you an insight into study in the UK.

Study in Exeter

You may find the study culture here at Exeter differs to what you are used to. While you are studying at Exeter, you will experience several different methods of teaching and learning. You will be trained to read widely around a topic and research it thoroughly, to reflect on the ideas you have encountered and to analyse and describe them.  You should expect to be an active contributor in seminars, tutorials and online learning environments. In addition, you will be guided and supported by tutors to become increasingly independent and innovative in your learning.

When you start a new module, you will be given a Module Handbook which contains details of the module’s aims and objectives, a syllabus, reading list, and information on assessment methods, etc.  It will also state how many ‘contact hours’ you have, and give guidance on how much private study you are expected to undertake.

Most modules are based on the ‘lecture plus tutorial’ format.

Lectures last one or two hours and occur weekly, they are:

  • A concise method of introducing and explaining ideas which are of central importance, and
  • A method of helping students to understand quite complicated ideas which are found in textbooks or research papers.

Most lecturers give advance notice of topics which will be covered, and it is a good idea to do some preparatory work before attending the lecture.

Tutorials/classes typically take place once a week or once a fortnight.  They are:

  • Periods for discussion and extension of ideas and issues which have been raised, and
  • For your tutor (and your student colleagues) to comment on your written work. 

It is important to contribute in tutorials and to realise that tutorials are a time for being prepared to make mistakes, for learning to put forward and discuss ideas logically, clearly, and coherently, and to get used to the fact that if someone is critical of your thoughts, that is not synonymous with being critical of you. 

Some mathematics-based modules may have weekly ‘exercise classes’ of a larger size instead of tutorials, and some modules have drop in ‘help hours’ rather than tutorials. Attendance at tutorials/classes is compulsory.

British higher education places a large emphasis on private study. It will form a vital part of your study here at Exeter.  The power of critical analysis, the ability to understand and present a logical argument, and the self-discipline to organise your own time to promote active study, are all skills that are implicit in a degree programme and developed within private study time.

How much private study should you be prepared to do?  A very rough guide, and a minimum requirement, is to take the ‘contact hours’ for each module (i.e. lecture plus tutorial times) and double them.  So, for a 30-credit module with a weekly two-hour lecture plus associated hour-long tutorial, you would expect to spend a minimum of six hours on private study – more if it is a subject you find difficult.

This works out at a 36-hour week, more or less the equivalent of working 9-5 Monday to Friday!

Modules are generally assessed through a mixture of group work, coursework, project work and examinations; the weighting of each of these components will vary according to the academic requirements of the module, but the emphasis is generally on the final examination. Examinations are normally held at the end of the module, in January and May/June.

Plagiarism = the act of representing another’s work or ideas as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement or referencing.

What this means?

You MUST NOT copy sections of work from a textbook or article, or from internet sources such as Wikipedia. If you do want to use the author’s exact words (and this should only be done for specific and limited comments) you must give the proper reference.  You will be given guidance on how to do this, including undertaking an ELE module on referencing and academic honesty.

The use of essays bought from an essay bank is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN.

Why do some students copy other people's work?

We know that some students copy from other authors because:

  • they do not have the confidence to express themselves in their own words;
  • they have been brought up in a culture where they have been encouraged to learn large sections of text;
  • they have got behind with their assignment and want to save time.

The School’s point of view:

  • Do not worry about poor English – we know our international students find paraphrasing difficult, and we will not penalise you for poor English, so long as we can understand what you mean.
  • It is only by expressing yourself in your own words that your teacher can be sure that you have understood the material.
  • Learning to manage your time is an important part of being a student.

 What we ask you to do

You are required to undertake the ELE module ‘Academic Honesty and Plagiarism’, which provides detailed guidance on understanding how to reference properly, and how to avoid plagiarism.

If you have any concerns about plagiarism or cheating, please talk to your Personal Tutor or module leader. The Students Guild and Student Advice Centre are also willing to provide advice and support.

Penalties for plagiarism

The School takes a very firm line regarding plagiarism.  If plagiarism is found to have occurred, the School has a range of penalties which it will impose, ranging from a reduction in the mark, to expulsion from the module.  In particularly serious cases, the School may refer the case to the University, in which case the outcome could include exclusion from the University.

We do not accept ignorance of these procedures as a valid excuse for plagiarism.

Some students have previously been withdrawn from the University without achieving a degree as a result of plagiarism.  Others received lower or lesser qualifications as a result of plagiarism.

Please note that in addition to credit rated English language modules offered at INTO, there are a wide variety of non-credit weighted courses, workshops and tutorials to students who are speakers of other languages. They are designed to enable students to develop their academic English and provide help and support for studying in English.

Further details can be found on the INTO Insessional Programme webpage. Further information regarding the Insessional Language courses will be given to you at the Business School module registration session in September and January.