Skills Hub


A-Z university jargon and terms

  • A
  • Academic Advisor

    (AA) A member of academic staff who will provide you with advice on your academic progress.

  • Academic Year

    The university year. The academic year at Sussex runs from September to June. It is divided into two semesters. see Term Dates for details.

  • AHRC

    Arts and Humanities Research Council. Central funding body for research in Arts and Humanities subjects.

  • Alumni

    The community of former Sussex students.

  • Assessment

    The process of checking and marking students' academic work. Depending on the course, modes of assessment may include examinations, essays, reports, projects or combinations of these.

  • Associate Tutor

    (AT) Usually doctoral researchers. Associate Tutors complement the teaching delivered by permanent academic staff. They help with seminars, lab demonstrations, tutorials, academic support and sometimes deliver lectures.

  • B
  • BA

    Bachelor of Arts, an undergraduate degree for a course in an Arts subject, or sometimes the Social Sciences.

  • Badger (The)

    The University of Sussex Students’ Union weekly newspaper.

  • BEng

    Bachelor of Engineering, an undergraduate degree for a course in Engineering.

  • BSc

    Bachelor of Science, an undergraduate degree for a course in a Science subject.

  • Bursary

    A grant awarded to a person on application who fulfils specific criteria.

  • BUSA

    British Universities Sports Association.

  • C
  • Canvas

    Canvas is a virtual learning environment (VLE) used at Sussex to support teaching and learning. Tutors use Canvas to sharemodule resources such as lecture notes, handouts and reading assignments. They may also use it for assessments and other activities. Many courses will have a forum where you will be able to ask questions and contribute to topic-related discussions.

  • CEC

    Careers and Employability Centre. Provides help with academic skills and advice on career prospects, including CV writing, and finding internships, placements and temporary and permanent jobs. The CEC is in the ground floor of The Library.

  • Course

    The degree a student is studying for, e.g. BA (Hons) in Music. Your degree course is made up of a series of modules.

  • Credit

    Highlights the level and quantity of work for a module. This is awarded on successful completion of each module within a university award, and you need a certain number of credits to complete your certificate or degree course.

  • D
  • D Phil

    Doctor of Philosophy. A postgraduate degree, involving three or four years of research and the publication and assessment of a thesis, which can be in any subject. It is a specialist qualification, and a personwith a D Phil can take the title Dr.

  • Degree

    A university qualification usually awarded after the equivalent of three or four years full-time study.

  • Department

    A unit within a School. Each department is responsible for the academic functions in a field of study.

  • Director

    There are three Directors in each school.

    ·     The Director of Doctoral Studies is responsible for PhD researchers

    ·     The Director of Teaching and Learning is responsible for undergraduate academic issues

    ·     The Director of Student Support is responsible for the welfare of both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

  • Dissertation

    A subject-related research project, usually several thousand words in length, completed during the final year of study.

  • F
  • Finalist

    A student in their final year of undergraduate study.

  • Finals

    The final examinations taken by students at the end of their studies.

  • Fresher

    A term used to describe first-year students at university.

  • G
  • Graduand

    The term for students who have completed their course but have not passed through the graduation ceremony yet.

  • Graduate

    A person who has successfully completed and passed a degree course.

  • Graduation

    The ceremony at which a student formally collects their degree certificate.

  • H
  • Halls of Residence

    University-provided blocks of accommodation. Students usually spend their first year in Halls.

  • Honours Degree

    An undergraduate degree. In order to be awarded an honours degree a student must achieve a minimum of 120 credits in the final stage of the course.

  • I
  • IDP

    Interdisciplinary Programme. Faculty members from several disciplines contribute to the development of a course of study and may co-teach the module.

  • Independent Student

    A student who is no longer expected to rely on parental support, e.g. because they are over 25, married or in a civil partnership.

  • International Student

    A student who comes to study at a UK institution from outside the European Union.

  • J
  • Joint or Joint Major

    A course where you spend equal time studying two disciplines, e.g. History and Film Studies.

  • L
  • Laboratory/Fieldwork Classes

    Laboratory classes allow students (depending on the module) to test the concepts and methods introduced in lectures and tutorials. Fieldwork can be any practical work carried out by members of the School for the purpose of teaching and/or research in places which are not under University control.

  • Learning Outcomes

    What you should be able to know/understand/do when you successfully complete the module.

  • Lecture

    Usually a formal, instructive talk, given by a subject specialist to a group of students. Students typically listen and make notes, although there can be some interaction.

  • Lecturer

    A university staff member responsible for teaching courses.

  • Level

    Generally corresponding to the year of study, a level indicates the demand and complexity of study, and the amount of independent study required. e.g. M (Masters) level indicates that the course is at postgraduate level.

  • M
  • M Phil

    Master of Philosophy. A postgraduate research degree qualification midway between an MA and PhD, which requires the completion of a thesis.

  • MA

    Master of Arts. A postgraduate qualification.

  • Major

    The main subject of study for a qualification, e.g. Psychology or English.

  • Mature Student

    A student who is over 21 years of age at the start of a course.

  • MEng

    Master of Engineering. Postgraduate qualification in Engineering.

  • Minor

    A subsidiary subject as part of a degree, usually making up 25-33% of a qualification. The minor must constitute a coherent programme of study and secure learning outcomes at level 3 at least.

  • MSc

    Master of Science. Postgraduate qualification in a science-based area of study.

  • O
  • Office for Students

    The body that regulates English higher education institutions on behalf of all students.

  • Office hours

    Periods set aside by tutors specifically for consultation by students.

  • P
  • Plagiarism

    The presentation of another person’s ideas or research as one’s own. This includes the copying of materials, collusion in the writing of lab reports or essays, and failure to cite sources adequately. Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence by the University of Sussex.

  • Postgraduate

    A student who has already earned their first degree and has progressed onto a more advanced course at university, e.g. a Masters.

  • Primary Source

    An original document relating to a particular subject, experiment, time period, or event, i.e. information which has not been interpreted by another person.

  • Professor

    A university academic of the highest rank.

  • PVC

    Pro-Vice Chancellor, a deputy to the Vice Chancellor. There are two of them at the University of Sussex.

  • Q
  • QAA

    The Quality Assurance Agency. An independent body that reviews the quality and standards of higher education in universities and colleges.

  • R
  • Reader

    Faculty grade similar to senior lecturer but awarded for excellence in research.

  • REF

    Research Excellence Framework. Assessment of the quality of research in universities and colleges in the UK. The last REF was in 2014 and the next one is in 2021.

  • S
  • Sabbatical

    A period of time (usually a term) when a faculty member is not teaching, but concentrating on his/her own education or research.

  • Sabbatical Officer

    A student who has been elected by the Students’ Union to fulfil a role. The roles are either taken in between years of study (for example between year two and three of a typical degree) or immediately after graduation.

  • School

    A grouping of university departments for administrative and academic purposes.

  • Secondary Source

    Materials or sources that contain information that has been cited, translated, or based upon another primary or original source, e.g., a news article.

  • Seminar

    An opportunity for small-group discussion and presentations, often linked to lectures, which gives every student a chance to participate and develop their skills.

  • Student Life Centre (SLC)

    The central point on the campus for Student Advising. The SLC is located on the ground floor of Bramber House and is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.  

  • Submission deadline

    The date and time by which a piece of coursework must be submitted.

  • Sussex Direct

    A personalised web gateway for students and staff, giving access to all the information needed to live, study and socialise at the University of Sussex. It allows access to email, editing of personal details and displays information about courses.

  • Sussex House

    This is where the Academic Registry Office, the Undergraduate Office, Postgraduate Office, and Student Accounts Office are situated. Barclays Bank is also part of the building.

  • T
  • Tutor

    A member of teaching staff, including Lecturers, Associate Tutors and Professors.

  • Tutorials

    A small class of one or only a few students, in which a member of academic staff (typically a tutor) focuses on individuals’ work.

  • U
  • Undergraduate

    A student working towards a first degree.

  • USSU

    University of Sussex Students' Union.

  • V
  • Vacation

    The term used for breaks within the academic year, e.g. Christmas.

  • Vice-Chancellor

    The head figure of the University (academic equivalent of a CEO of a large business). The VC of the University of Sussex is Professor Adam Tickell.

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