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StudySwitch - A Guide to University Jargon

University study is unique in its structure and with that comes some new words for the specific ways things happen. Many of these words you will have come across before, but we’ve collected them together in an A-Z guide for anything you want to clarify. These terms are also often used in everyday speech too, but they may have a more specific meaning in the university context – so it’s always worth double checking if you’re not sure of something.




Academic An ‘academic’ is a member of staff with teaching and/or research responsibilities.
Bachelor’s degree A bachelor’s degree is the qualification awarded to a student who has completed their undergraduate studies of usually 3 or 4 years (e.g. BA Philosophy, BSc Architecture, LLB Law)
Blackboard ‘Blackboard’ is the virtual learning environment (VLE) that we use at UCLan. Through Blackboard you can view your programme structure and modules, submit assessments and view feedback and access resources from tutors.
Bursary A bursary is money given on the basis of financial need which does not have to be repaid. At UCLan we have a range of options to help students who may be in need of extra financial support, including a hardship fund.
Campus The campus refers to the ‘grounds’ of the university, including our student accommodation, teaching and research facilities, and leisure activities which are all located close by. UCLan has its main campus in Preston, Burnley, Westlakes and Cyprus.
CareerEDGE CareerEDGE is our cutting-edge portal for all things careers. You will be able to log in to access information on vacancies, careers advice, self-assessment tools and practical tutorials on CV building, interview skills and aptitude tests, amongst other things. Everything you need in one place. You can also book appointments with careers advisors through the UCLan Careers Service.
cJAM UCLan’s ‘cJAM’ events are exclusively for UCLan students, staff and senior industry guests. Industry guests attend to view showcases of final year and postgraduate students’ work and are decision makers who can award students placement opportunities right there and then.
Coach Our coaches work with individuals and groups of students to support them in developing the skills to be independent learners. They do this by delivering high quality personalised support at different stages of the university journey, so that students are better able to engage, progress, complete and succeed in their chosen programmes of study.
Counselling Service UCLan has its own dedicated Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing team, which includes BACP- and UKCP-registered counsellors who can offer support to those students who are in need of counselling services.
Course Administration Service/ CAS Hubs The Course Administration Service (CAS) comprises of 4 Hubs located across the main Preston campus, plus a 5th Hub at our Burnley Campus. The hubs give front-line advice, support and guidance to students in respect of their course and provide administrative support to academic staff; this includes support for registration, module choices, maintenance of your student record and administration of the assessment boards.
Course Rep A Course Representative is a student who has been chosen to liaise with staff and speak on behalf of those in their cohort. The scheme enables students’ views to be heard and ensures that the student perspective is considered in course-related decisions.
Foundation Degree A Foundation Degree at UCLan is a programme for students who do not yet have the appropriate qualifications for a bachelor’s (honours) degree programme. You can usually progress on to an honours degree following your foundation year.
Freshers’ Week
The term ‘fresher’ is commonly used to describe students in their first year at university. Freshers’ Week will be kicking off on Sunday 13 September with a range of activities designed to help you get involved in your student community; You can find out more and register for updates on the website.
Gap year A ‘gap year’ is a term used to refer to a year away from education that some students take after school, college or working commitments before going to university. Often students will have used their gap year to travel or to gain work experience and additional qualifications.
Graduate This is the term used for a person who has graduated – having completed and passed their degree and been awarded their qualification.
Halls (of Residence) Halls of Residence’ refers to the accommodation provided for students by the university. At UCLan we guarantee all new full time students a place in our halls if they want it, and many students choose to stay on in halls in their second or third year. We currently have 8 halls of residence of different types.
Journal A journal is a periodical publication in which research and essays relating to academic disciplines are published. They are usually peer-reviewed which means they are reliable sources of information, and most are accessible online. You will become familiar with the most significant journals in your area over time, and you can access the vast majority for free using your university log-in and library service.
Lecture A lecture is a lesson taught in a medium to large group of students with an academic delivering specific content. Students will mostly listen and take their own notes. Most lectures will have opportunities to ask questions at some point, however students can also get answers through independent study or through their subsequent tutorials and seminars. Lectures can be conducted online and often they are recorded and accessible later through Blackboard, so students can revisit them if they feel they need to.
Library and IT The UCLan Library is a complete study environment. Aside from books, there is a full array of services you will need to achieve your academic goals.
The library has a dedicated team who provide support and training for students. Their aim is to help you make the most of the Library and IT facilities throughout your studies, and to make sure you're working effectively and efficiently - whether you need to find books and journals for an assignment or need help with formatting your dissertation.
LIS Learning and Information Services (LIS) look after all your technological needs whilst at UCLan.  You will be able to contact them through your Student Portal and their Customer Service area, and they provide useful help pages and informal training sessions for extra support.
Masters degree (MA, MSc, MPhil, MEd) A master’s degree is a taught courses which allow students to extend their learning for one to two years after they have graduated from their first (bachelor’s) degree.
Medical Centre UCLan has an on-campus Medical Centre and Pharmacy offering travel vaccinations, advice, prescriptions and family planning, plus much more.
Mental Health Advisors UCLan has its own dedicated Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing team, which includes Mental Health Advisors who can offer support to those students who are in need advice related to mental health issues.
Module A module is a unit of study that explores a specific area within a subject. At UCLan you usually take modules worth 10, 20 or 30 ‘credits’, which combine to make up your full year of study of 120 credits.
PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) are a means of helping first year students’ transition into University life. The scheme involves higher level students (PASS Leaders) who are trained to facilitate interactive study sessions with first year students. The Leaders work in pairs to create and prepare activities, lead sessions, promote discussion, organise group work and share their own experiences of studying at university level. The sessions take place once a week and are fun, and friendly.
PhD Also known as a ‘doctorate’, a PhD is the highest form of degree awarded and involves carrying out independent research with little or no teaching. You need to have completed at least an undergraduate degree to study at this level.
Placement year At the university some of our courses offer an optional placement module in year 3, whilst some have compulsory placements to provide students the opportunity to meet learning outcomes set by Professional, Regulatory and Statutory bodies. If you are considering this as an option, speak to your academic school who can give you more detail. If your course has compulsory placements, the university will work with our placement partners to allocate placements. As you start your course you will get more insight into this process.
Postgraduate A postgraduate student is someone who has completed an undergraduate degree and is studying for a higher degree such as a master’s or PhD qualification.
School President School Presidents are student representatives at a more senior level. They voice the opinions of students within each academic school at UCLan. They communicate and engage with students in their school to gain feedback and work in partnership with school senior management to create positive change on a school basis.
Seminar A seminar is a lesson taught in a small group of students and a tutor. Students are expected to engage in discussion with other students, whilst the tutor guides and challenges the discussion. Usually students will have done some prescribed reading or research before coming along to a seminar, so they are prepared in advance to take part. It is interactive and collaborative – the tutor doesn’t do all the talking.
Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre (STFSC) UCLan students based at the Preston Campus are entitled to free sports membership giving access to the Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre and the UCLan Sports Arena. The STFSC is UCLan’s state-of-the-art, indoor facility on the main campus in Preston. STFSC offers a range of activities from Students' Union sports clubs to instructor-led classes and individual fitness areas.
Society The term ‘society’ is a little like the university word for a ‘club’. There are many societies and they make up part of the Students’ Union’s activities. There are societies for all sorts of sports, hobbies and interests. You can even set up your own society if there isn’t already one that interests you.
Social Social life at university can be rich and varied. Many people highly value the friendships and connections they make with other like-minded people within or outside of their course. You may here the term ‘social’ being use - particularly at certain times in the year when the SU, societies and course reps may organise social events aimed at breaking the ice, meetings others on the same course, or for those with similar interests. Lots of socials may be held virtually for the time being, but they’ll no doubt still be a fantastic way to meet other people during your time here.
Source (Bar) Source bar is the Students’ Union bar. It’s open every day serving food and drink and showing live sports and events. They also host a weekly social, a karaoke night and a quiz.
Sports Membership All UCLan students based at the Preston Main Campus are entitled to a free sports and fitness membership. This free membership gives access to activities delivered by sports staff including exercise classes, teams sports and the fitness suite at the Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre and the UCLan Sports Arena.
Student Ambassador Scheme Every year we invite students to join our Student Ambassador team, who represent UCLan at our largest recruitment events held across our campuses. The work they do is casual paid work and it’s flexible, so it fits around students’ study commitments. Students find it’s a great way to build excellent employability skills that will enhance their CV. Student Ambassadors receive full induction training and ongoing support throughout your time working with us.
Students’ Union (SU) The Students’ Union is an organisation that is run by students themselves and is dedicated to the representation and support of everyone. Students’ Unions sometimes take part in political campaigning and join with other SUs around the country to help work on particular issues. It also promotes social activities and University societies are organised through it.
Study Abroad UCLan currently has Study Abroad exchange agreements with almost 100 universities from around the world, across Europe, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Hong Kong. Through International Student Exchange Programs almost the whole world is opened up. Not all degree programmes are eligible, but you can find out more from the International team.
Study Spaces Students can book study spaces in the library to make sure they have a quiet place to work or suitable space for practising presentations and group work.
Study Support At UCLan there are many ways you can receive support and develop your study skills. We have the UCLan Library, the PASS scheme and informal training in Digital Skills.
The <i> The <i> is the student information and support centre. Its aim is to help students make the very best of their time at UCLan. There is a team of dedicated staff made up of experienced student support advisers and recent graduates, who are on hand to provide you with advice, support and guidance during your time at university.
Tutorial A tutorial is a lesson where an individual or small group of students meet to discuss their work with a tutor. It is a collaborative space, where sometimes students may have specific questions about particular parts of their own work, or may have been set a task which helps to develop a certain skill. The tutor can give more personalised feedback and answer questions from the students to help them progress as individuals.
UCLan Sports Arena UCLan students based at the Preston Campus are entitled to free sports membership giving access to the UCLan Sports Arena and the Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre.
The UCLan Sports Arena offers a variety of activities and high quality facilities for both students and the community to enjoy recreational and competitive sport.
Undergraduate A student studying for their first degree on a programme which normally lasts for three or four years.
Undergraduate Masters An ‘undergraduate masters’ degree such as Masters of Engineering (MEng) or Masters of Science (MSci) are courses which usually comprise three years of undergraduate level study, with a further year of level 7 study, combining to gain a Masters qualification. Students progress through the 4 years automatically and don’t need to apply for or pay separately for a separate Masters course.
UniBuddy UniBuddies are Student Ambassadors who enjoy and have been trained in interacting with prospective applicants to the university through live chats and blogs – for example by manning our ‘Ask a Student’ chat channel or sharing their experiences through written or video posts.
VLE The virtual learning environment (VLE) that we use at UCLan is ‘Blackboard’. Through Blackboard you can view your programme structure and modules, submit assessments and view feedback and access resources from tutors.
Wellbeing Ambassador Our Wellbeing Ambassadors are current UCLan students who have received specialised training to support all students, to help break down barriers and facilitate independence. The ambassadors provide one-to-one support for students of various ages, genders, races, disabilities, sexual orientations or religions. They can also support anyone with a temporary ailment or anyone who need adjustments to university life. An Inclusive Support Advisor or Officer will make the recommendation to work with a Wellbeing Ambassador if they think that it will be beneficial for the student.
Wellbeing Team The Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing team are a team of professional, highly experienced Counsellors, Mental Health Advisors and Wellbeing Advisors. During your time at UCLan, there may be spells when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, experience difficulties with your health, housing, personal life or studies and the CMHW team provides tailored confidential advice if you need it, including access to BACP- and UKCP-registered counsellors where appropriate.
Worldwise Centre UCLan’s Worldwise Learning Centre is dedicated to offering support, training and professional development opportunities to UCLan students. It’s free to learn a range of languages at any level, from beginner to experienced, and it is great fun too, another thing you could add to your CV.