Hello, welcome to the United Kingdom. If you are reading this, I believe you have made the right decision by choosing this university to do your studies. There are a lot of things that you should be aware of the university before you start and make sure you know enough about the place and you are ready for the great life over here. Expect the unexpected!
About this Story
This article is a first complete multi-part article that gets updated often and updates are notified in comments as well. So, if you are copying this article, please do add a link back so that once the article becomes outdated, I’ll make sure the article is updated with the latest of information possible and I will also be actively monitoring comments for questions and request to information.
This is the third part of the multi-part article:
- Welcome to Leicester - A dawn of an Awesome Journey.
- Thinking of pursuing Masters in the United Kingdom? Think Leicester.
- Things to bring before you start your journey.
- University Life when you are at Leicester.
- Accommodation & Stay in Leicester.
- Things to do at University of Leicester.
- Great places not to miss in University of Leicester.
- Benefits of studying at University of Leicester.
- Career Development when you are a student.
- Working in Social Enterprise - My Experience in University of Leicester.
- Serendipity - ParticiPoll, my first working experience during my study.
- Useful places to visit in Leicester and nearby cities.
- Interesting conversations with experts.
- Frequently asked questions before joining University of Leicester
This article gives you an overall idea of what you are going to face. The student life in university here might be completely a different experience, if you are coming from India or any other country than the European Union or United States. The first thing you will notice is that, everything is autonomous here. You will not be spoon-fed and you can get genuine help, anytime of the day. Yes, the professors here respond to emails even at 3 am midnight. I am not kidding, and it’s a personal experience.
There are a lot to talk about this topic. Go on and have a taste of how your student life is going to be at the university.
The first thing about the university is the awesome professors here. Personally, I haven’t found a single professor, who is not helpful or technically challenged. Be it an Assistant Lecturer (lowest rank) or a Professor or a Distinguished Professor or a Professorial Teaching Fellow (highest rank), the attitude and response will be the same. You will get your query solved, if you ask the right question, even at the wrong time. Well, there’s never a wrong time. But my suggestion would be to restrict your communications to the official emails as much as possible.
The professors are very kind,knowledgeable, caring, and passionate on mentoring students, no matter what.You will be coming across three tutors in your academic career. A pre-tutor, who is your single point of contact for all your queries before your classes start. A personal tutor, who is your “parent” for the whole academic career and you can take them as your mentor or a buddy, and can have “personal” talks with them too. Finally, at the end of your course, you will be assigned a project supervisor, whose main responsibility is to guide you in the right way throughout your dissertation phase. I am one for lucky to have all the three as the same professor.
Once your classes are started,you will be amazed to find that they are not normal classes but every class is a lecture theatre and you have typically no imposition on how you need to come and when you need to come. You just should be in the class at the time of the commencement of the class. A delay of ten minutes can be appreciated, but not more than that.
Some professors are very strict and they will not allow you inside their class, if you are late than certain time. It’s always better to come early to the class, unless you have another class that’s blocking you from attending the next one (which rarely happens).
Once you have received your initial pack, you will be provided with an official student email, which you will be using for all the communications - academic announcements, professors, etc. and it would be mostly a Microsoft Outlook based email with the university's student domain
Typical Class Session
There are three types of class sessions. A coursework class session is a normal class, where a tutor or a course convener takes taught subjects and teaches them with the help of already prepared notes or slides. The next is a surgery session, where you will be given tasks and made to solve, typically based on the previous session. This is not a class test, but you will be tested your knowledge and you will be given the answers at the end of the class. This is not marked.
The final and awesome session is the practical session, where you will be sitting in one of the computer labs and trying out the things you learned in your classes. This may not be the case of all the subjects. Some subjects have completely different coursework and practical sessions. For example, the Advanced Web Technology subject in your first semester has totally different coursework and practical sessions. This might have changed now, but this was the case when I was pursuing my masters during 2013.
Per semester, you will have to take four modules and you have two semesters, totalling it to eight modules. This depends on your course and please consider looking at your respective department pages to learn more. You will be given two weeks’ time to choose your modules as per your choice. There are more modules than you can study and you have the flexibility to choose the module you like by attending all the classes for a trial period. The two-week trial depends on the course and department you have taken.
When you choose a degree, you will be having a list of modules for each semester. There are three types of modules:
- Compulsory Modules in a semester. You must take this module for this semester at any cost. You don’t have any other option of backing off. This applies for some specialised degrees.
- Compulsory Modules for the entire course. These modules can be taken in any one of the semesters. It is compulsory but not attached to any particular semester. The best example for this is Personal & Group Skills.
- Modules of your choice. The rest of the modules fall under this category. They are semester bound and you must choose at least four of all available subjects per semester. This again depends on your degree.
There will be some compulsory modules and other modules, which you can choose. There are some modules, which you can take during either your first semester or next one. For example, we had a subject called “Personal & Group Skills”, which can be attempted during any semester.
The coursework of a typical taught course will be a classroom training session and the professor or course convener will be assembling all the students in a lecture theatre and run through the slides and explain the course. Students are free to stop the lecturers and ask questions, or you can sit and work with your laptop inside the hall, as long as you don’t disturb the rest of the class, or in some sessions, you are allowed to come late and leave in the middle. It should be noted that it would be considered rude to leave the class abruptly.
This is a crazy topic for this university. There are five or more types of assessments for any given course.
- A course can have only one single ever final examination.
- A course can have only course works, i.e., the series of class tests.
- A course can have both the course works, and final examination.
- A course can have a final examination, and a practical examination.
- A course can have all the three combined - course works, a final examination, and a practical examination.
After examinations, an individual research project can be undertaken full-time by the students who qualify to do so. The Individual Project is carried out under the supervision of a member of the academic staff that students are invited to contact as early as possible to supervise their work. Students may wish to complement the foundational material of the first two terms with practical, applied work during the project. It is possible to involve informal collaboration with other organisations, subject to previous approval of the project supervisor.
The individual project will lead to submission of a dissertation where the original elements of the student research are described. Projects can involve a number of activities that range from substantial programming to purely theoretical research. In any case, projects must be at postgraduate level; they are expected to contain some element of original work and cannot simply be a review of literature.
A dissertation or final year project, as a form of assessment differs from other module assessments. The expectation is that you, the learner, take responsibility for your own learning and that you produce a literature review, you choose a method for undertaking a study, write up your findings and discuss the outcomes in a discussion section.
There is a checklist to check for the best scoring in dissertation. The following checklist will start you on the dissertation journey, start planning and also clarify what is expected of you:
- How many credit points or module equivalents is the dissertation worth?
- Does the dissertation have any special status in the calculation of your final degree classification?
- When do you need to start planning the dissertation formally? (Some degree programmes start this process in the second year, others in the final year.)
- What is the submission date for the final piece?
- Are there any key interim dates when (for example) outlines, sections or requests for the ethical approval of proposed research have to be submitted?
- How long is the dissertation (and does the word count include the bibliography and appendices)?
- Are there any lectures, seminars or workshops associated with the module?
- Will you have a dissertation supervisor?
- How are supervisors allocated?
- How often are you allowed to meet with your supervisor?
- Is there a schedule of meetings that you have to attend or do you arrange them with your supervisor?
The point of the dissertation is that it’s an independent work that’s less guided. In other courses, it is set out what they want you to find out. This is about your individual thought and direction, i.e., you can go off in your chosen direction, branch out and make different things relate to each other. There’s more freedom involved.
You have three types of dissertations that you can attempt during your degree.
Software development projects. These are projects where the main contribution is developing a significant software system. Typically, the project requires the student to use her/his creativity in modelling/developing a non-trivial software system. Although a software product is the main result of projects of this type, the development process (software development tools/techniques, appropriate methodologies/architectures) is relevant. Typical challenges are that: technologies used are novel or just emerging (just being new to the student is not enough!); novel development methodologies are employed; or technologies are used in an innovative way.
Technical projects. These are projects with an experimental flavour where the main contribution is the use/extension of existing techniques or tools for studying/analysing a substantial problem. These projects may also involve software development. However, their main focus is on the use of existing tools/techniques. Typical challenges of these projects are the complexity of the problem to study. For instance, studying the correctness of the authentication protocol Kerberos by formalising it and its properties in FDR (a CSP model checker). This project is challenging because it requires understanding how to model protocols with process algebras for verification purposes.
Theoretical projects. Their main contribution is of theoretical nature, e.g., extending a formal modelling language, enhancing an existing algorithm and proving its time and space complexity, etc. Such projects need not include any software development. However, they require an accurate and abstract understanding on how software is designed so that strong mathematical skills are recommended. Challenges in projects of this type usually involve the interpretation of a software related problem as a mathematical, abstract problem and the application of suitable mathematical theories and tools to solve them. For example, developing a more efficient network routing algorithm or a modelling language that allows to model new classes of software using an algebraic approach.
And further there are three types of dissertation.
- Department Proposed Projects. These projects are proposed by the university and you get to have a say on the project that you like.
- Industry Proposed Projects. These projects are proposed by the company where you were working full time as an intern. You can show your team work here.
- Self Proposed Projects. These projects are exciting and sometimes intimidating as you have to be your own scrum master and make sure you deliver the project successfully. I chose this and I did get distinction too, but yes, it's a hard work.