Study Abroad Jargon Buster

  • Accommodation

Student Accommodation means Student Housing. The Student Accommodation Office oversees the Student Residences and provides advice and information on all matters relating to housing.

  • Colloquium

Colloquium modules are small group teaching modules. These modules have a limited number of students. Colloquia require reading, presentation, oral participation and regular attendance.

  • Course/Programme

Full time, degree-seeking, students study a specific Course or Programme  from their first year at university in Ireland. The two terms are generally used interchangeably. This is different to universities in the US and other countries that follow the US model, where all students are required to study a general education programme before declaring a major.  A Course or Programme comprises individual modules. The University sets out specific rules that determine which modules you need to successfully complete each year to graduate with the appropriate degree title (e.g. B.Sc. (Physics), B.Comm., B.A. (History), etc).

  • Continuous Assessment

Continuous Assessment refers to the method of student evaluation that takes place throughout the semester/academic year. Examples include midterm essays, class tests, group assignments.

  • ECTS

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is the academic credit system used in most European universities. Its main purpose is to enable comparisons between courses in different universities and countries in Europe. ECTS credits are based on overall workload, rather than just contact hours like in the US. A module that is rated at 5 ECTS, for example, means that you need to spend at least 100 hours of concerted effort (including lectures, exams and self-study) in order to complete it satisfactorily. As a general guide, 5 ECTS credits, which is the usual credit load of semester long module (see below), would be considered equal to 3 US credit hours approximately.

  • Ersamus

The Erasmus Programme (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), is a European Union student exchange programme. The Erasmus programme aims at enhancing the quality and reinforcing the European dimension of higher education as well as at increasing student and staff mobility.

  • Essay

A short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal view of the author. Essay length is advised by the academic disciplines and may vary from 1500 – 5000 words.

  • Examination (Exam)

An examination is an assessment intended to measure a student’s knowledge of a particular academic module. Written examinations at NUI Galway are normally of 2 hours duration.

  • Extended Essay

Extended essays may range from 3000 – 5000 words and provide students with an opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic.

  • Lecture

Programmes are delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars and laboratory classes (where relevant). Lectures are normally held in large auditoriums or lecture halls and consist mainly of a one-way presentation by a Professor or Lecturer. Lectures outline the subject matter and lay the foundations on which you are expected to explore further through your independent reading and study.

  • Lecturer and Professor

The position of Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Ireland would generally equal that of Associate Professor in other countries. Lecturers are usually permanent members of staff (tenured) and will also usually hold a PhD degree. Unlike in some countries, in Ireland, the title Professor is reserved only for the most senior academic staff in a given discipline.

  • Mark

Your Mark means your Grade. Marks are given out of 100%. See the post on the Irish grading system for more information.

  • Module

Courses are in turn split into Modules, which is the official name for what is generally known as a class or course in other education systems. The word Module is not commonly used by students, but you might come across it in course descriptions or other university documents.

  • Postgraduate

A Postgraduate course (see above) is a programme such as a Masters or PhD, or what is commonly known as a Graduate programme in other countries. The term is often shortened to “Postgrad”. A Postgraduate (or “Postgrad”) student is a Graduate student, i.e. a student undertaking a Postgraduate Course.

  • Prerequisite

In order to be eligible for admission to certain classes, students must demonstrate they have a suitable academic background, known as prerequisites, in a given subject area.

  • Seminar

Some disciplines offer seminar classes alongside regular lecture/tutorial based modules. Seminars are generally quite specialised classes and only offer restricted entry in order to maintain small class sizes.

  • Tutorial

Lectures are usually supplemented by tutorials, which provide an opportunity for discussion in a smaller group setting. Unlike lectures, tutorials are based on small groups and provide more opportunities for discussion and interaction amongst students.

  • University/College/School/Discipline

There are seven universities in Ireland and under law only these seven institutions can use the word University in their name.  While the terms University and College are often used interchangeably, College is also used to refer to the principal academic units within the University. For example, NUI Galway is comprised of five Colleges;

– College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies
– College of Business, Public Policy and Law
– College of Engineering and Informatics
– College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
– College of Medicine

Each College is subdivided into Schools (e.g. and each School of Humanities, School of Law etc.) and each School in turn comprises a number of Disciplines. A Discipline is a branch of knowledge that is taught and researched at a university. Examples of academic disciplines – French, Anatomy, Mathematics, Physics etc

  • Visiting Student

A Visiting Student is a student admitted to undertake a programme of study normally for one year or one semester. A Visiting Student is not admitted to a programme leading to a Degree or any other award of the University. Normally only students, in good standing of another higher level institutions (or graduates) are admitted as Visiting Students.



Filed under About Ireland, Academics, On Campus

2 responses to “Study Abroad Jargon Buster

  1. Pingback: Teaching, Learning and Assessment at NUI Galway | Study Abroad at NUI Galway

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