Uni life can be complicated at first, so this site will help make it a little easier to navigate your first semester at Monash. The weeks listed here represent the twelve teaching weeks of semester. Just start scrolling to browse topics to see important deadlines to help you manage your studies each week.
No matter where in the world you come from, you’ll find your first semester at uni challenging. You’ll need to step up to increased academic demands, as you adapt to Australian ways of teaching and learning.
Greater responsibility for your learning
When you arrive at uni, you’ll be expected to take more responsibility for yourself than ever before. No longer will you have someone to frequently check your academic progress. Or remind you of assignment deadlines. You’ll receive much less individual attention from teachers, which means you’ll need to be self-motivated and independent.
To get a head start, check the unit guide for each of your units before the semester begins. Once classes are underway, figure out what information is most important and where to focus your energy. And make sure you understand your assessment requirements. These are all things you must do for yourself.
Of course, your teachers will be happy to assist if you ask for their help. You can email them using your Monash student email address. Or you can go see them – most teachers will have consultation hours. Find out their office location and when they’re available.
Most of your study will take place outside the classroom
For each hour of classes, you’ll need to do at least two hours of private study.
At uni, you’ll read widely from a reading list and search for relevant materials in the Library. If you need assistance, Monash librarians and learning skills advisers can work with you. For more information about Library resources, go to Get to know the Library.
At uni, you’ll have the freedom to come and go from campus as you please. While some courses have strict attendance requirements, in most cases your attendance may not be recorded for lectures and other classes. But if you’re tempted to skip a class, be aware that you might miss out on useful information and fall behind.
For many courses, you’ll have about 12 hours of classes each week. For some courses, this will be much more. It’s up to you how you arrange your timetable and how you spend your time in between classes. We suggest you organise a study schedule, noting assignment due dates, so that you can complete your assignments on time.
Types of classes
In addition to lectures, you may have tutorial, practical (pracs) or lab-based classes, depending on your course. Some of your classes might be taught online. And some courses might involve fieldwork or industry placements.
At uni, lectures can be huge, especially in the first year, with hundreds of students – so don't be surprised if the lecturer never learns your name! Lectures are usually one hour, twice a week. You'll be expected to take notes and have completed all required reading beforehand.
Tutorials are usually one or two hours, once a week. They’re smaller than lectures and tend to be more informal and based on discussion between the tutor and students. Tutorials give you the chance to dig into the material covered in lectures, ask questions and debate ideas.
Pracs or lab-based classes are also smaller than lectures. They can be two hours or longer. Their purpose will vary depending on your course, but they're more hands-on. Such classes give you an opportunity to experiment, practise and develop skills.
Independent thinking is valued
You may be accustomed to memorising information from textbooks, but in Australia you’ll instead be encouraged to challenge ideas. Teachers will want you to think analytically and critically about the information they introduce to you. Australians believe that original thinking encourages innovation and creativity.
You may sometimes even experience lively debate in the classroom! This may be unfamiliar and somewhat scary at first, but with time you’ll most likely come to enjoy it.
Beware of plagiarism – learn how to reference
A word of warning. Australians feel strongly about the ownership of ideas so be careful not to make someone else’s words or ideas appear to be your own. (This applies to published sources and even another student’s work.) Plagiarism is considered stealing of intellectual property. It’s a serious offense and could lead to your exclusion from your course.
Working in groups
At some point, you’ll quite likely find yourself working on a group project at uni. Your grade will be based on the work of the entire group, not just on yours alone.
A group project can be a bit stressful if you’ve never done one before. But working as a team can be a valuable experience when building your career! If possible, choose people you get along with and try to include some local students in the group – they may already be familiar with the process and can help you out if you’re unsure of something.
In your assignments, use your own words and avoid ones similar to those of the original source. You must also use appropriate citing and referencing to acknowledge the source of your words or ideas. And always use quotation marks to indicate a direct quote, whether spoken or written.
Manners in the classroom
Australia tends to be informal. This may take some getting used to. For example, many of your teachers will be happy for you to address them by their first name.
Feel free to dress casually and comfortably when you attend classes. During the summer, it’s acceptable to wear shorts and t-shirts without causing offence.
In Australia, our laws protect people from discrimination based on gender, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, nationality, and religious or political beliefs, among other characteristics. In the classroom, everyone can expect to be treated with the same respect.
Please arrive on time to classes and meetings. Australians appreciate punctuality.
To learn more about Australian customs, go to Survival tips.
Classes taught in English
All classes and meetings with teachers are conducted in English. Throughout your course, you’ll be expected to communicate in both written and oral English.
Because Australians have their own particular accent, and use lots of idioms and abbreviations, you may at first find them hard to understand. In a classroom setting, you may also encounter unfamiliar terms specific to a discipline. Until you’ve adjusted, your teachers may seem to speak very quickly making it hard to follow what’s being said.
If you’re struggling, Monash offers various English language programs throughout the semester. You might like to join a conversational English group. Or maybe go to a grammar or academic writing workshop. Check out your options on Improve your English.
How you’ll be assessed
Your assessment tasks will vary. They may include essays, case studies, reports, group projects or presentations. Written assignments tend to be long, and become even longer in later years of study. Teachers will rarely ask for drafts. Feedback can be infrequent. Written feedback on assignments may not be very detailed, and you may have to ask for more. Exams can sometimes be open-book or even take-home, and are marked internally.
You may find that many subjects give more weight to assignments than exams when determining your final grade. Students often prefer this because they rather work through assignments at home than perform under the pressure of an exam.