What is Coursework at University?

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Compared to the rest of the British education system, university can seem so very different. Lessons are now lectures or seminars, you have complete independence, and you even have the option to live on campus. Plus, there are so many other differences on top of this. This might make you wonder if the components of studying at university are different as well, especially in terms of how the course works. One of the components that’s important to look at in this way is coursework and how it differs at university.

In short, at university coursework is similar to at previous levels of education, where coursework is a form of assessment without exams that helps to make up your grade. At university, this is because successfully completing coursework helps you to pass modules, allowing you to get your qualification. This coursework can come in many different forms and the types you do will depend on your course and your university. However, some of the main types are essays, reports and projects, including research projects such as dissertations.

Continue reading to learn more about what coursework is at university. This article will take you through how coursework works at university and what some of the main types of university coursework are.

Is there coursework at university?

When thinking about coursework, we tend to be more familiar with the term when it’s associated with school or college. In this case, coursework is a form of internally assessed assignment that will make up a part of your grade.

As a form of assessment, it will often be essential to help you to get your qualification, whether that’s for a GCSE/ National 5 qualification, an A-Level/ Higher or Advanced Higher or a more vocational qualification, such as a BTEC or a T-Level. For more information about what coursework is like at this stage, check out this guide by NI Direct.

As university can feel so different from school or college, you may be wondering whether or not there even is coursework at university and whether it works in the same way.

Simply put, yes, there is coursework at university. In fact, some universities state that most modules will have some form of coursework involved in them.

Students take a range of modules to make up their degree programmes. This means that students are very likely to do at least a bit of coursework in a few of their modules across the course of their studies. You can learn more about this by checking out this page on the University of St Andrews website.

What do you do in coursework at university?

At university there is so much more variation in what you can study and how you study it. From the different classifications of degree, even just within the undergraduate level, from foundation degrees to all the different kinds of bachelor’s degree, such as the BA, BSc or LLB, to all of the other kinds of qualification that you can do at university.

Due to all of this variation, there should be no surprise that in each of these different kinds of courses, students will be taught in different ways. Moreover, there isn’t any actual standardisation across universities, meaning that even on very similar courses, students can be taught with completely different methods.

As a result of this, the coursework that you do at university will completely depend on your course and your university. However, there are some common types of coursework that are done.

Some of these main ones are essays, reports and projects. For more information about what different types of coursework at university might be, you can check out this page by the University of Leeds.

You can learn more about these in their respective sections below.

Is an essay a type of coursework at university?

An essay is an academic piece of writing where students will have to make an argument in response to a certain question. In secondary school and college, you may have come across essays in the form of exam questions, where they would be valued in terms of their marks. For example, you may have had to do a “10-marker”, a “20-marker” and so on.

Alternatively, you may have come across them as part of your own coursework or NEAs, particularly in humanities subjects, where the knowledge and argument you present would be more detailed and in-depth. For university study, essays as a form of coursework, are more similar to the latter as they will need to be well-researched and in-depth.

However, university is at a higher level that school and college. As a result, university essays will need to be as well with students needing to carry out some independent research and reading before they can start the essay rather than relying just on what they have been taught.

You can learn more about essays as a form of coursework at university on this page by the University of Nottingham.

Is a report a type of coursework at university?

Reports and lab reports are a type of coursework that you will probably not have directly come across in previous study, although you may have done something a bit similar. Unlike an essay, a report is purely factual and objective, where the main aim is to present findings and to analyse the data collected, rather than to make an argument.

While they are particularly present in the sciences and social science subjects, reports are a form of coursework that can be used across a large variety of different subjects. Due to this, there are many different types of report and which one you may have to undertake as a part of your coursework will depend on your degree.

For more information about this, look at this page on the University of York’s website.

One of the main types of report is a lab report. This is a type of report done by sciences students after an experiment has been done. You can learn more about them by checking out this guide by the University of Nottingham.

Is a project a type of coursework at university?

For university study, a project as a form of coursework can refer to a few different modes of study. First of all, when talking about a project, we might be referring to a research project.

A research project is an extended essay that students complete by undertaking and then presenting their own research and comparing this to the preexisting ideas. This kind of research project will typically be big and may even be an entire module.

In cases like this, the research project will most likely be in the form of a dissertation or even a thesis if done at doctorate level. You can learn more about this type of project by looking at this page on the University of Sheffield’s website and for more on dissertations, look at the following section.

However, projects can also be in the form of group projects that can vary a bit more across universities. For example, at Imperial College London, students undertake a multidisciplinary group project to try and come up with solutions to the biggest social challenges. You can learn more about this on this page on their website.

Also, the University of Edinburgh Business School runs group consultancy projects at both undergraduate and master’s degree levels. For more information about this, check out this page on their website.

Is a dissertation a type of coursework at university?

At university in the UK, a dissertation is a type of research project that can be taken by students for either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. As an extended essay, students will need to produce an answer to a specific question of somewhere between 5,000 and 50,000 words depending on the university and whether it is a bachelor’s or master’s degree that you’re doing.

There are different kinds of dissertation and depending on which kind students do will depend on how they go about writing it. For an empirical dissertation, students will need to carry out research and collect data first hand to use as part of their dissertation. Whereas for a non-empirical dissertation, students will have to research into data and information that is pre-existing.

You can learn more about what a dissertation is by looking at this Think Student article.

As previously mentioned, one of the main types of coursework at university are projects, including research projects. This means that yes, dissertations are a type of coursework at university as they are types of research project.

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