What to Expect



All students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are required to attend lecture classes for their units of study. Not all units are the same; some may run during a standard semester (14 weeks) while others are held in intensive semesters (for example 2 full days per week for 5 weeks). You should check the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook when enrolling to make sure you will be available to attend classes at the time allocated. The faculty tries to avoid timetabling clashes but it’s not possible to eliminate them completely. If you have a timetabling clash, you should consult teaching staff in the departments concerned and make sure you understand the departmental policies about attendance before you make a decision about how to deal with such clashes. Students are responsible for the consequences of any decision they make about timetabling clashes.


Tutorials are an important part of the learning process and bring together smaller groups of students to discuss material presented in the lectures. You are expected to attend all tutorials fully prepared to discuss the material as indicated in unit of study outlines. Failure to attend at least the minimum number of tutorials may result in a penalty.

When and Where are Classes held?

Undergraduate Students
A personal timetable is prepared for you after enrolment. In first year you will probably have 12 - 20 class hours per week, depending on your choice of subjects. This will comprise of lectures (which are attended by all students doing a subject) and tutorials (small discussion-based groups in which each member may take a turn presenting a paper).

Postgraduate Students
The majority of units of study are scheduled in the evening, typically from 5 - 7pm or 7 - 9pm. Some units of study are offered in intensive mode at the Summer School and Winter School or block teaching, such as the Museum Studies program.

Timetable information for postgraduate and undergraduate students is available here as well as on departmental websites. Classes are held on the Camperdown Campus at the University of Sydney. Click here to view a map of the Camperdown campus.

Online Components

Many units of study within Arts have online components. Examples include:

  • downloadable lecture notes
  • audio lecture recordings
  • class discussion boards
  • blogging film reviews and commenting on your classmates’ reviews
  • online reflective journaling on your professional practice during a placement or internship
  • links to readings held in e-reserve at the Library
  • links to related websites and online articles
  • online essay submission
  • online surveys and quizzes, such as peer assessment of contribution to group work or language practice.

Depending on their nature, online components may be held in one of the University’s Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard or they may be accessed via the Library website or the internet.

Whether a unit has a website or online component is at the discretion of the lecturer. Details of how to access any online components are usually included in the Unit of Study Outline, which you will normally receive in the first class. Alternatively, details may be given out in the first lecture or tutorial. If in doubt, ask your tutor or lecturer – preferably in the first week of classes, in case there are online tasks.

You will need to be comfortable using a computer to create, edit, save and print documents, as well as researching topics on the internet and downloading material. The main university e-learning system is Blackboard. Sydney eLearning have prepared material about getting started including how to log in.

If you need to develop your computer skills, you should enrol in a computer or internet skills course well before classes start. Courses can usually be found at your local library, TAFE or community colleges such as WEA. You are also strongly encouraged to enrol in the University Library classes on how to use its online catalogue and databases. These are mainly held early in the semester.


Assessments usually take the form of essays, assignments, take-home exams, formal exams and class presentations. However, each unit of study may have very different forms of assessment and you should check the relevant Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook for full details.

Postgraduate Study

Postgraduate study describes a course that leads to an award such as a graduate diploma, master’s degree or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Entry to a postgraduate course usually requires prior completion of a relevant undergraduate degree (or diploma) course. There are two main types of postgraduate courses: research and coursework.

Postgraduate coursework programs consist of units of study rather than research work. Students usually attend lectures and tutorials. Graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and master’s degrees can all be obtained by coursework.

In postgraduate research programs, students undertake supervised research leading to the production of a thesis or other piece of written or creative work over a prescribed period of time. The research component must comprise 66 per cent or more of the overall course requirements. Master of Arts (Research), Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Social Sciences, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy can all be obtained by research.