Basic New Zealand University Terms Glossary for International Students
A short glossary of basic terms that are widely used across all New Zealand’s tertiary educational facilities.
1. Conjoint Degree: Also known as a ‘double degree’. When students want to do more than one degree they can study for two bachelor’s degrees at the same time, i.e. a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce.
2. Hall of Residence: A hall of residence is where a large portion of first-year students will live and spend their time. The hall has a formal agreement with the University to provide University students with accommodation close to the students chosen University campus. Most halls are fully catered and will provide you with a room to yourself on a single floor with shared bathrooms between your floormates. Some may function more like mini-flats, with kitchens, bathrooms and multiple rooms in units.
3. Lecture: Students are taught by a lecturer (University professor) for 50 minutes (usually) in a lecture theatre on campus grounds. Courses with large numbers of students are divided into separate streams and attend different lectures on the same subject.
4. Residential Assistant (RA): At each Hall of Residence, residential assistants are students (often students who used to stay at that hall) hired to help manage the residents and live on-site. Also known as Resident Advisors, RA’s provide support to students living in the halls and are expected to use their maturity and experience to also be role models for first-year students.
5. Subject: This is an area of learning, which is provided by a school or a department. For example, English 101 subject is offered by the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
6. Tutorial: A tutorial is a small group-learning study session, which is usually run by a post-graduate student who has taken the class in the past. Tutors help students understand their lectures, prepare notes, practice exams and prepare for assessments. Tutorials offer a good chance for the class to discuss what is happening in the course and to debate about the subject more freely than in the lecture theatre.
7. Major: This is the main subject or area that you are studying during your undergraduate degree at University in New Zealand. Each year is a level (i.e. 1st year is 100-level, 2nd year is 200-level and so-on) and to achieve a ‘Major’ student must have received at least 40 points at 300-level, 120 points in a recognised subject area and no-more than 140 points at 200-level or above.
8. Minor: This is another area or smaller area of focus for your studies. A component of an undergraduate degree, to achieve a ‘Minor’ you must have 60 points at 200-level or above and 15 points at 300-level.
9. Orientation: Known as O-week in New Zealand, new students’ orientation is the events programme organised at the start of the year to welcome new students to the University. These normally involve musical performances, dress-up events, scavenger hunts and outdoor events. These are organised by the University or the student’s association.
10. Schools: At University schools are academic units of the University, which often consist of more than one programme. For example, the Faculty of Architecture and Design is made up of the separate schools: School of Architecture and the School of Design.
11. Trimester: There are three teaching periods that make up an academic year at University:
- March to June
- July to October
- November to February (within the third trimester is a period known as ‘Summer School’, which occurs in January and February for six weeks).
12. Bachelor’s Degree: Students normally require three years of study to obtain their undergraduate degree. The programme requires that you pass and complete certain requirements throughout your University experience. A bachelor's degree is in an undergraduate degree, and any subsequent study on top of that (such as a Masters or PhD) is known as a post-graduate degree.
13. Grade Point Average: This is a measure of the student’s performance at University and averages the grade achieved over a period. The scale is 0 (no passes) to 9 (A+ Average). GPA’s are not provided to third parties and are only used as an internal measurement.
14. Grades: University grades are set out as follows:
A+ (90-100%), A (85%-89%), A- (80-84%), B+ (75%-79%)
B (70-74%), B- (65-69%), C+ (60-64%), C (55-59%), C- (50-54%).
D+ (45-49%), D (40-44%), D- (0-39%).
15. Semester: A semester encompasses a period of about 15 weeks, which includes 12 teaching weeks and a mid-semester holiday period of up to two weeks. This includes two to three weeks of study and examination time at the end of the semester.
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