Welcome (Back) Jargon for the new academic year.

It’s the start of a new academic year. Incoming cohorts (Foundation and Certificate) have arrived, staff are back (from holiday and a much needed rest) and classes have started.

Since in the past two years we’ve time and again, discussed issues affecting study and international students; it might be a good time for some jargon busting? Especially, since every institution has it’s own alphabet soup that can be tricky for international students.


1 – Cohort: This is all the students in a particular year group even if they never have classes together.

2 – Class: This one can be ambiguous – you might have a class in linguistics meaning you are studying that subject. – Or you can have a class at 10:00 on Thursdays meaning you are not available at that time. – It might also refer to the group that you study with.

3 – Course: Usually in the UK your course refers to what you are studying more generally so “English Literature” rather than “British 19th Century Novels” or “Post Structuralism in Poetry”.

4 – Module: These are the individual bits of your course. Most universities in the UK have a less modular approach than many North American institutions. At Winchester for example your course will have a set of modules you have to take, some from within the programme that you can take and a set of related modules from related programmes. Some universities allow a much more modular approach meaning someone might be studying French, Computer Engineering, the History of Art and Astrophysics.

5 – Option: Whether within your course or outside it you may have options these are where you can personalise and tailor your degree to your interests. You only have to do these classes once you have chosen them.

6 – Programme (program AmE): Your programme is probably what your degree will be called although sometimes a programme might offer more than one degree.

7 – LN: The Learning Network this is what we call our VLE (virtual learning environment) that in the case of Winchester sits alongside most of our taught programmes. Some modules or even courses can be taught entirely through VLEs, this is often known as distance learning.

8 – Quiz: A quiz is normally smaller than a Test or Exam, our quizzes are often online and done outside of class time.

9 – Essay: Possibly the most dangerous word on any campus. It means something slightly different to every different academic, sometimes two different things depending on the module they are teaching. Traditionally or formally an essay argues a case or point. So it is focused, it is impersonal, it tries to establish and argue a position or view, so it is not merely descriptive.

10 – Assessment: This can be anything you get assessed on whether formatively (for your own development) or summatively to get marks for. Some of the most common types are presentations, essays, exams etc.

11 – SU: Typically the Student Union, like trade unions they can represent and act as advocates for members and their concerns. Often they also fund and support recreational societies and are at the centre of campus life.

12 – KAC: At Winchester King Alfred Campus (also known as main campus, or down the hill or up the hill depending on whether you are at West Downs or Medecroft).

13 – HEAR: Higher Education Achievement Report: In the UK this is your academic record, and you need to sign into it to prove you did what your CV says you did at Uni.

14 – Paper: It’s that white (or another colour) stuff that older lecturers tend to carry around and wave about. Another dangerous term similar to Essay this can refer to any written assessment but exactly what format changes from discipline to discipline and even module to module.

15 – Conference: A chance to meet fellow scholars in your field from other institutions. A conference paper means you are presenting there, and you’ve written something out. This may not necessarily mean that you are happy/ready to publish an article on it.

16 – Presentation: This can be when you stand in front of a class and present your work/research or how you set up your argument within a written assessment.

17 – Debate: Is there a current discussion/argument within the field or topic? This can be called a debate. It can also be a type of assessment where teams

18 – Discipline: this is a subject area, so within Psychology you might be a developmental psychologist, or a perceptual psychologist or a counselling psychologist etc.