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Starting out at university is an exciting prospect. However, it's easy to overlook some of the changes university entails, particularly when comparing the academic environment in Australia with that of your home country. We know there's a lot to get your head around, so we've outlined some basic differences to help get you started.

Lectures and tutorials

The academic year at UQ is divided into three semesters and is made up of a series of courses. Most courses are delivered via a mix of lectures and tutorials, and assessed by exams, coursework or practical assignments. The exact method of delivery varies from course to course, much of which you will find out in your first week of classes.

But there is more to university than how and when courses are delivered. Academic learning at university is about taking responsibility for yourself, without anyone to hold your hand.

Independent learning

In high school, teachers provide quite a lot of guidance and help you find the information you need. At university, you’re expected to do all of this yourself.

Lecturers won’t be chasing you to do your homework like they did in high school. They will impart their knowledge and then you are responsible for your own learning – everything from keeping up-to-date with assigned readings, to knowing when exams or assessments are due.

Critical thinking

You’ll be given reading lists containing the names of textbooks you’re expected to borrow or buy. You’re also expected to do wider reading, seeking out material that will help you develop a wider understanding of your topic.

You’re expected to go much further in the way you learn and develop your critical thinking skills. This is a major part of your university learning experience: you should develop your own opinion about the topic, rather than just repeating what you’ve read.

Don’t worry too much though. During each of your courses, your lecturer will give you the knowledge framework to develop your own informed point of view. We are here to help wherever possible – not to corner you into "sink or swim" scenarios.

Personal study tips

Before your first semester begins, it’s a good idea to take the time to familiarise yourself with the academic expectations of UQ, your faculty, library and campus.

Take proactive steps in maximising your success at UQ by following the suggestions below.

Learn to see the potential of the world. Gain the knowledge to make it better.

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