University jargon buster

A student generated list of commonly used terms that will help you understand the language used at university a little better.

Learning at Lincoln - A man in a blue shirt holding an iPhone.

Definitions submitted by University of Lincoln students Emily Jackson, Liam O’Dell, Alex Keene, Carrie Pendle and Lauren Jepson, and sourced from the Foundation Studies Centre Glossary.

  • Academic

    Staff members that teach students and conduct research.

  • Academic offences

    Academic offences can include collusion, plagiarism, cheating, misconduct in research and the use of misleading material are strictly prohibited.

  • Academic Subject Librarian

    Your Academic Subject Librarian can help you with all your Library, Referencing and Information queries, book an appointment with them if you need their help.

  • Academic year

    The period of time between the start of timetabled sessions (usually late September) and end of timetabled sessions (usually May/June for most undergraduate students). For a lot of courses, the academic year will finish with end-of-year exams. Postgraduate courses usually have a longer academic year that doesn’t finish with the end of timetabled sessions, but continues with dissertation submissions or research projects.

  • Account ID

    This may sometimes be referred to as your Student ID. It is an 8-digit number, unique to you, that identifies you at the university. The first two digits are usually the year in which you finished school/college. For example, 17112233 might refer to someone who finished college in 2017. This number is not secret; it also forms your email address at the university. The example already given would have an email address of Do not confuse your freely available Account ID with your secret Exam ID. Both are shown on your university ID card.

  • Admissions

    Admissions is the process of applying to university. There’s an admissions team that will look through your application.

  • Advice Service

    The Advice Service offers free confidential independent legal advice to all enrolled students at the University of Lincoln, including advice on money, debt, housing, welfare benefits, employment, consumer rights and university issues. Drop-in sessions (no appointment necessary) from 12-2pm every weekday at the Student Support Centre.

  • Alumni

    Once you graduate from university, you become part of the university alumni community, which is a Latin term to describe former students who have graduated. Alumni is the collective term for all graduates.

  • Assessments

    Assessments may take the form of end of topic or end of lab multiple choice tests, coursework essays, lab reports, presentations or exams. Check the module handbook, assessment briefings/map on Blackboard, or the first slide of each module to see the types of assessments and weightings of each assessment for that module.

  • Assignment

    An assignment is a task set during your university course. This will often be some form of written work, but it can be something more practical if your degree is creative or design-based in nature. An assignment is often called ‘coursework’ and you will usually be asked to complete this to a deadline – either independently or in groups – outside of lectures and university sessions.

  • Attendance

    Students are expected to attend all timetabled sessions.  Attendance will be monitored by your tutors but is ultimately your responsibility.

  • Academic Writing Support

    Based in the library, the team can help you achieve your potential by helping you improve your writing skills. You can book an appointment through the library website.

  • BA/BSc etc. (BEng)

    BA= Bachelor of Arts, BSc= Bachelor of Science, BEng= Bachelor of Engineering. These are undergraduate academic degrees awarded after completion of courses – most take 3 years but some can take longer.

  • Blackboard

    Blackboard is the online tool that the University uses as its learning portal or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It’s a website which will include all of your course information and it’s where you will upload and submit assignments, work and maybe even your dissertation! After you have submitted your work, Blackboard will also be where you go to find out your grades.

  • Blended learning

    A style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching.

  • Campus

    The area on which a university is based, which includes its buildings.

    The University of Lincoln has several campuses, in addition to the main Brayford Pool campus in the centre of the city: Riseholme Campus just north of the city and Holbeach campus in the south of the county.

  • Chancellor

    Our present chancellor is Lord Victor Adebowale CBE. The chancellor performs ceremonial duties and in this regard is assisted by the Pro-Chancellors and the chair of the university Board of Governors.

  • Citation

    The author name and date, that appears in the body of a piece of written text, to which the facts, quote or research being discussed can be attributed to. See also: References

  • Clearing

    Clearing is an alternative system of applying to university. If you don’t receive the grades you expected, you can apply to courses with available places at different universities to the ones you originally chose through Clearing.

  • College

    A group of Schools, for example, the College of Science. There are four Colleges at the University of Lincoln: Science, Social Science, Arts and the Lincoln International Business School.

  • Collusion

    A student colludes when they submit work for assessment done in collaboration with another person as entirely their own work, or collaborates with another student to complete work which is submitted as that other student’s work.  Collusion does not apply in the case of the submission of group projects, or assessments that are intended to be produced collaboratively.

  • Consolidation work

    Work set by the lecturer to be completed after the lecture and before the following lecture.

  • Coursemate

    An online platform which allows you to anonymously submit feedback relating to your course.

  • DBS

    The Disclosure and Barring Service helps employers make safer recruitment decisions each year by processing and issuing DBS checks for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. DBS also maintains the adults’ and children’s Barred Lists and makes considered decisions as to whether an individual should be included on one or both of these lists and barred from engaging in regulated activity.  All students enrolled on the Masters of Pharmacy degree are required to complete a DBS check.

  • Deadline

    Work handed in after a deadline will incur a penalty of 10% per working day that it is late. All assessment submission dates can be found in the module Blackboard sites. Also see: Assessments.

  • Defferal

    Deferral has two definitions. The first is related to your university application – you can defer your application to the following year, allowing for a gap year before coming to Lincoln. Deferral of assignments – in extenuating circumstances you can ask for an extension on completing your assignments.

  • Degree

    A degree is what a university student studies towards at university and achieves at graduation. It is an official qualification and a degree can be at an undergraduate (BA/BSc/BEng) or postgraduate (MA) level. Undergraduate degrees can usually be achieved after three years of study, whilst a Master’s degree can be achieved after one or two years of study, following on from an undergraduate degree.

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor

    Members of the senior leadership team of the University who support the Vice-Chancellor with specific areas of expertise; Toby Wilkinson (External Relationships), Andrew Hunter (Research and Innovation), Julian Free (People, Services and Operations), Liz Mossop (Student Development and Engagement) and Simon Parkes (Finance and Infrastructure).

  • Digital Lead

    The member of staff responsible for developing and promoting digital learning.

  • Director of Teaching and Learning

    The most senior member of staff who leads on all aspects of the department.  The director of the Foundation Studies Centre is Kerry Blagden.

  • Dissertation

    A dissertation is an extended piece of writing on a subject of your choice. My dissertation was a final consolidation of my knowledge and favourite topics during my three years of studying. Not all courses require you to write dissertations, and the length of a dissertation varies from course to course. If you do have to write a dissertation, you will be assigned a dissertation tutor who will support and guide you through the process.

  • Distance Learning

    A method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or teaching is conducted by correspondence, without the student needing to attend University.

    You will be supported electronically within the virtual learning environment, Blackboard and with digital learning materials from the Library.

  • Drop-In Session

    An optional session, which you can attend all or part of, to ask questions and receive support.

  • Email

    University staff will only use students’ official University of Lincoln email addresses, not external email addresses.  Students are expected to check their email twice daily, or set up an alert system, in order not to miss vital information.

  • Employability

    Your level of “employability” is how likely a prospective employer is to hire you to work for them with the current qualifications and experiences you have. University is a great time to take up new things that will improve your employability and the Careers team and Students Union will be on hand to support you in this.

  • English Language Centre

    The English Language Centre provides support to all international students with their English Language development

  • Enrolment

    The formal process through which students officially join the University. When you enrol, you confirm your agreement to become a student at Lincoln, to abide by University regulations, to become liable for fee payments, as well as to having your personal details checked. All students must enrol at the beginning of each year of study.

  • Exam ID

    This 7-digit number is shown on your university ID card. It is only to be used during official summative examinations; it is considered secret and should not be shared with your lecturers or with other students. Not to be confused with your Account ID.

  • Extenuating Circumstances

    Applications for extenuating circumstances (ECs) can be submitted if you have not been able to apply for an extension and there is a factor that may have affected your ability to attain at your best. These are submitted online and are processed centrally. You need to provide date-relevant evidence for any claim. They do not allow adjustments to your original mark; they allow you a second chance at an assessment without it counting as a resit.

  • Extension

    An extension is when your assignment deadline is pushed back. This can be applied for if something happens that means that you may not be able to meet an assessment deadline, or that could affect the quality of your work.

  • Fail

    A mark below 40% in a module is considered to be a fail. Normally, students must pass all modules for that year in order to progress to the next year of university. Depending on your degree programme, there can be other additional requirements in order for you to progress. You should check the regulations for your degree programme carefully, and ensure you understand the requirements.

  • Feedback

    Feedback is really important to know what you’ve done well and where you’ve gone wrong with your work. Feedback can be given by your lecturers during their office hours before a deadline, or via Blackboard when your assignments are returned. You should take on board any feedback given to you because it will enable you to reach higher grades in future assignments.

  • Financial Assistance Funds

    Funds provided by the University of Lincoln to help students who are experiencing financial hardship, need assistance with commuting costs (Lincolnshire) or have a course-related activity in the UK or overseas which is not normally affordable to them.

  • Formative

    Learning exercise that allows students to monitor their progress and understanding and identify areas of weakness.  Marks do not count towards a module grade.

  • Foundation degree

    A foundation degree is equivalent to two-thirds of an honours bachelor’s degree. They usually last two years if you are studying full time, but year-long courses are available as a “top up” before you begin a bachelor’s degree.

  • Foundation Year

    An integrated year zero for students with non-standard entry qualifications, if students achieve the progression criteria, they will automatically progress into Year 1.

  • Fresher

    A fresher is a first-year university student.

  • Graduate student

    A student who has received a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and who is enrolled in a program leading to a master’s or doctoral degree.

  • Graduation

    Your graduation is the culmination of all your hard work and is a ceremony that takes place at the Lincoln Cathedral where you are presented with your degree certificate.

  • Grant

    A grant is a form of financial aid that is given to students that meet specific criteria. Unlike a loan, a grant (or bursary) does not need to be paid back. When applying for student finance you can select to share your financial data with the university. This will automatically allow the University to see if you fit any of the criteria enabling you to receive a grant.

  • HE

    Higher Education – Studying at university or at a university equivalent level.

  • Home student

    A home student is usually classed as a British or European citizen studying in the UK – if you qualify as a home student, you will pay less in tuition fees than overseas students.

  • ICT support

    Found on the first floor of the Minerva building, the people to ask if you have problems with your device or internet connection

  • Independent learning

    At university, you are expected to have some elements of independent learning – more so as the years go on. Independent learning is where you will research a topic needed for exams or an assignment that will not necessarily be taught in formal lectures.

  • Interruption/withdrawal/transfer

    If you wish to temporarily or permanently leave your course or transfer to another course there could be implications in doing this and you may need advice from the Student Support Centre before proceeding

  • Invigilators

    A member of staff who has been trained to oversee the administration of examinations. They are responsible for maintaining proper conduct as outlined in the exam regulations.

  • Joint Honours

    A joint honours degree is where you study two subjects which are combined together to make one degree. You will normally do half of the modules from one course and half from another. Joint honours is a great choice if you can not decide between two subjects and want to expand your knowledge in more than one area.

  • Late Submission

    If a piece of assessed work is submitted after the advertised deadline, university policy is to deduct 10% from the mark for each day or part of a day that the work was late.

  • Lecture/Lecturer

    Lectures are, funnily enough, taught by lecturers. Your lecturer will stand before the entire course and speak about a topic needed for a module. You will normally then be given the opportunity to discuss this topic and ask questions in smaller seminar groups later in the week.

  • Lecture Recording (Panopto)

    Lecture Recordings are a way for you to go back and re-listen to lecturers – they are a great resource for revision and deeper learning. They are not, however, an excuse to skip lectures because it is much more beneficial for you to attend the lecture rather than rely solely on recordings.

  • Libertas per Sapientiam

    Freedom through wisdom, the motto of the University of Lincoln.

  • Librarian

    Each course will have a specific subject librarian – you can go to them with specific queries. They will be able to point you in the right direction for books and journal articles for your assignments.

  • Lincoln Award

    The Lincoln Award is a way to enhance your skills and employability which is recognised by employers. To participate in the Lincoln Award you must do extra-curricular activities which have to be signed off by the leader of that activity. For example, Journalism students are likely to help out with Siren Radio – this is recognised as an activity for the Lincoln Award and is also great work experience.

  • Maintenance loan

    A loan from the Student Loans Company paid to the student as a contribution towards their living expenses while studying.

  • MASH (Maths and Statistics Help)

    Free, relaxed, one-to-one advice based in the Library. Drop-in with a quick query, book an appointment or sign up to a range of workshops.

  • Masters

    A masters degree is a postgraduate degree. You can do a masters after completing your undergraduate degree – masters are usually subject-specific and will enhance your knowledge on a topic.

  • Mature student

    Anyone over the age of 21 when beginning their degree is classed as a mature student.

  • Mentor/Mentee

    Mentor: individual who offers academic support to another student

    Mentee: Individual who receives support from another student.

  • Mitigating Circumstances

    Mitigating circumstances are situations that may affect you academically but are out of your control, for example, a medical condition. If something of this nature happens, the University may give you allowances such as extensions on coursework. It’s always a good idea to speak to your tutor if something happens during your university career that might be classed as mitigating circumstances.

  • Mock exams

    A short multiple-choice practice exam, based upon a semesters content. Mock exams do not count towards your final grade.

  • Module

    Your course is made up of modules – these are different topics that are essential to your learning that make up a percentage of your degree. Usually worth 10, 15 or 30 credits.

    In second and third year you usually have more choice over what modules you study.

  • Open Office

    Hours during the week when academic staff will be available to offer tutorial or academic support to students.  No appointment necessary, just turn up.

  • PAL (Peer-assisted learning)

    All students are eligible to participate as a mentor or a mentee.

  • Panopto

    Most lectures are recorded. Panopto is the system used by the university to do this and to share the recordings with students via Blackboard.

  • Pass mark

    A mark of 40% or above in a module is considered to be a pass. Whilst this is normally the requirement to proceed to the next year of study, there may be additional requirements for you depending on your degree programme.

  • Peer reviewed literature

    Scientific papers that have been assessed thoroughly by other academics working within the same discipline. When completing essays and research projects throughout your degree, you should focus on peer reviewed literature.

  • Personal tutor

    Your personal tutor is an academic member of staff for your course and they will be there to support and guide you through your studies and answer any queries you might have. Approximately once a term you will have a personal tutor meeting which is like an update where they will check on your progress and you can speak to them about any worries you might have. You don’t have to wait until these meetings to speak to them, as they are your personal tutor throughout your time at university.

  • PhD

    A PhD is the highest form of degree you can receive. In order to complete a PhD you must submit a thesis/dissertation or long form project of any kind that focuses on an original piece of research – so effectively you will do an essay on a topic that has previously not been covered in the same way by anyone else. People with a PhD can usually take the title Dr.

  • Placements

    Placements are a great way to improve your future employability. On certain courses, you may get the opportunity to do a placement, which normally involves taking a break from studying and working in the field you wish to go into for a period of time. Work placements can vary in length from a single day to a year and can be paid or unpaid. Check with your course tutors for more detail on what placement opportunities are available for your area of study.

  • Plagiarism

    Plagiarism is when you copy somebody else’s work without giving them credit or try to pass off of another person’s thoughts, ideas, writings or images as one’s own – for example taking a quote from a book, not referencing it and then claiming it as your own work. Plagiarism is easily detected in assignments because most assignments are handed in via TurnItIn and they can create a plagiarism percentage to see how much of your work is not your own.

  • Postgraduate

    A postgraduate degree can be completed after your undergraduate degree. These degrees involve more detailed study in a specific subject area, and they are also known as masters degrees or PhDs. Whilst studying at this level you may be referred to as a postgraduate, or postgrad.

  • Post-work

    Consolidation and extension work set by the lecturer to be completed after the lecture and before the following lecture.

  • Pre-work

    Work set by the lecturer to be completed as preparation before the lecture.  The lecturer will assume all students have completed the pre-work in order to understand the content of the lecture.

  • Pre-reading

    Specific textbook page references given by the lecturer to be read as preparation before the lecture.

  • Prospectus

    A prospectus is a booklet or document containing information about all of the courses a university has to offer. It should also include the grade requirements and some information about the courses. You can normally request a print copy of a prospectus from a university website for free, although most will also be available to view online.

  • Pro-Vice Chancellor

    The head of each of the four colleges within the university is a PVC.

  • Referencing

    Referencing is when you cite which book, journal article or other sources you found a particular quote from when writing an essay. If you don’t do this, it would seem that you were claiming the quote as your own and this would, therefore, be considered as plagiarism.

  • Renew

    The loan time on library books will be automatically extended as long as the book has not been reserved by another student.

  • Rep (School)

    A representative from the student body to ensure communication between the students and the School staff.

  • Research

    The use of both established and new techniques to address previously unanswered questions. Research is the backbone of all scientific disciplines.

  • Reserve

    Library books and resources can be reserved online by logging on to the library website.  Students can have four concurrent reservations at a time. You will receive a notice to your student email account when the item is ready for collection. You then have 3 days from the date on the email to collect your reservation.  Distance Learners will have items posted out automatically.

  • Residential Wardens

    Wardens live in our accommodation and support students to build a strong and supportive community. As well as contributing to the living experience through events and activities which help new students to settle into their accommodation, the Residential Warden team provides out-of-hours contact and support, as well as signposting to services within the University to ensure that help is available at all hours of the day.

  • Resit

    Where a student has not met the required standard in a module at the end of an academic year, they may be offered a single resit opportunity. This decision is made by the Academic Board committee. Resits take place over the summer period, with examinations usually in August.  Additional tuition fees are not charged.

  • Schools

    Divisions within the four Colleges. E.g. College of Science has the School of Life Science, School of Pharmacy, School of Maths and Physics, School of Chemistry, School of Engineering.

  • Self-Service

    Books can be borrowed and renewed in the library using your student card and the self-service machines.

  • Semester

    Your academic year at university is split into two semesters – September to Christmas and Christmas to the summer. Normally you will be required to complete an assignment for each module every semester.

  • Seminar

    A seminar is a small group session with the discussion led by the students and guided by a lecturer or tutor. In seminars, you’re given the opportunity to explore and develop your understanding of topics that were raised in lectures.

  • Senior Tutor

    The member of staff in charge of supporting tutors in monitoring your progress and attendance.

  • Single honours

    A single-honours degree is when you choose to just study one degree subject as opposed to a joint honours degree. Examples of single honours degrees are Biomedical Science, Law, Journalism, English etc. Most people choose a single honours degree as they’re more specific and if you know exactly what job you want to go into in the future, a single honours degree is probably the better option for you.

  • Societies

    Societies are a great way of making new friends at university and I would urge anyone to get involved with them. There is a Societies fair at the very start of term, and you can walk around and find out what societies are available – they range from The Harry Potter Society to Dance to Rugby Union to Musical Theatre. There is definitely a society for everyone, and you can create your own society if you can’t find one you like! Societies are completely separate from your course and are a lot of fun. Normally you will get a Wednesday afternoon off from university lectures (timetables permitting) which means, if you choose to do a sport, you’ll be able to attend your matches.

  • Speak Week

    Gives students the opportunity to give feedback on both their programmes and the University experience.

  • Student Charter

    Produced in partnership with the University and the Students’ Union and provides details of the rights and responsibilities of staff and students.

  • Student Engagement Champion

    The member of staff responsible for developing the student experience, including overseeing the rep system.

  • Student Finance

    Funding from the UK Government through the Student Loans Company to help students pay for the cost of a University course. Usually includes a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan.

  • Student Support Centre

    Located on the ground floor of the University’s Minerva Building, the student support centre is a one stop shop for students to gain access to all services across the University from financial support, academic advice such as applying for extenuating circumstances and the University Regulations through to requesting Certificates of Study. Visit their website for more support and advice.

  • Students Union

    The Students Union is run by a dedicated team of ex-students so they know exactly what students want and need. They are almost like the student government of the University, and they implement changes that need to be made. They listen to suggestions made by students and make sure they happen – for example, Lincoln Students Union has recently started putting sanitary items in the bathrooms that are free for students to take and use. The Students Union also has its own venues. In Lincoln, there is Tower Bar, The Swan and the Engine Shed – all of these venues have specific events aimed at students.

  • Students’ Union Advice Centre

    A team of trained Advisors who can provide you with impartial and confidential advice, support and representation, independent of the University.

  • Skills4Study Campus

    All University of Lincoln students have access to the learning resource hub Skills4Study Campus, provided by the Library.

  • Subject Librarian

    A Subject librarian is a librarian who specialises in your course. Your subject librarian will usually be mentioned in your module guide, or you can find them on the library website – they are there to assist you with referencing and finding relevant books for your course.

  • Summative

    Assessments for which the marks count towards the final module grade.  All marks remain provisional until after the exam board in the summer.

  • Technician

    A highly qualified member of staff who oversees all lab activities.

  • Timetable

    The dates, times and locations of teaching sessions are available electronically as a student timetable.  Students are expected to check their timetable daily in case of updates/changes.

  • Tuition fees

    Tuition fees are what you are charged to attend university. Tuition fees are currently £9,250 per year (in August 2018) and this amount will be paid on your behalf each year of your studies by the government in the form of a loan. You don’t have to start paying this back until you have graduated and are earning over £25,000 per annum.

  • Tutor

    A tutor is a teacher or lecturer at university. You will also have a personal tutor, and their aim is to help you not only academically but also to support your wellbeing during the course. You can arrange to meet with your personal tutor to discuss any issues you are having. You may also have a dissertation tutor who guides you through the dissertation process.

  • Tutorial

    A tutorial is a meeting, usually with your personal tutor, to see how you are getting on with university life and to talk about any worries you might have. Tutorials are normally scheduled once a term and they will appear on your university timetable.

  • Tutor Group

    A group of students that you will share a tutor with and that you will share tutorial sessions with in the first few weeks to ensure that there are familiar faces within your lectures and introduce you to potential peer support partners.

  • Undergraduate

    An undergraduate is anyone studying for an undergraduate degree. Undergraduate students are also often referred to as First Years, Second Years and Third Years, depending on the level they have reached in their undergraduate degree.

  • University Regulations and policies

    The University General Regulations and policies are for all students currently enrolled on University of Lincoln programmes. They contain information on such matters as Academic Offences, Academic Review and Appeals, Fitness to Practise, Complaints, Student Discipline, Academic Fees, and the use of the Library.

  • UROS

    The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scheme (UROS) offers undergraduate students funded opportunities to gain hands-on research experience. Successful projects are awarded a student bursary of up to £1000, which allows them to collaborate with University staff on research projects during the summer break.


  • Vice Chancellor

    The vice-chancellor, Professor Mary Stuart, is responsible for the running and strategic direction of the university, supported by the Board of Governors.

  • Wellbeing

    Wellbeing refers to both your mental and physical health. Tutors and staff at university will be looking out for your wellbeing and ensuring you are coping. If, at any point, you feel you are not coping or there is something on your mind, you can visit the University’s Wellbeing Centre and talk to an advisor and appropriate support will be provided if needed. Drop-in sessions (no appointment necessary) from 12-2pm every weekday and 5-7pm on Thursdays.

  • Workshops

    Not all courses have them, but for those that do, these are practical sessions that involve actively participating as an individual or as a group. The type of workshops you have will depend on your course, but they can last up to 3 hours depending on the activity.

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