Jargon buster

Like every other area of life, Higher Education has its own distinct terminology and jargon. Some of these terms and definitions are listed below.




Someone who has received a qualification from a university is called an ‘alumnus’. More than one are known as ‘alumni’. It is just a term for a former student there.


A non-repayable grant from a university; could be dependent on certain conditions.


A site that contains buildings or facilities under the administration of a university. This may be several buildings, as on the University of Huddersfield’s campus, Queensgate.  It may also be a site in a different town or area.


A system allowing students who have not gained a university place to apply for remaining course vacancies from July to September.


A lengthy essay on a specific subject which many students complete in their final year.


Similar subjects at universities or colleges are often grouped together under one faculty or school. For example, at the University of Huddersfield, we have Management, Business Studies and Marketing grouped together under Huddersfield Business School.


The last set of examinations taken before gaining a degree.


Students in their first year at university are known as ‘Freshers’.

Joint Honours

A degree where two subjects are studied together with equal weight, for example, BA (Hons) English and History or BSc (Hons) Physics and Chemistry. Where one subject has more emphasis than the other, it is known as major/minor.


A form of teaching where a lecturer speaks on a given topic to a large group and students take notes. 


Many degree courses are made up of specific modules, for example an English degree may offer the option of a module in Victorian Literature. Students often study a combination of compulsory (core) modules and optional ones, gaining credits for each one in order to complete their qualification.


Study undertaken after the first undergraduate (see below) degree. This could be a Certificate, a Diploma, a Master’s or a PhD.


A directory providing information on a specific university. It contains course information, details of the town or city and the accommodation available.

Sandwich year

Sandwich courses usually last four years with the third year spent in industry. This placement year enables students to gain valuable work experience whilst being paid a salary and they may be offered a job at the end of their studies.


Where a small group of students meet up with a lecturer and discuss their ideas on a specific part of the subject they are currently studying. Work is often set and then discussed the following week.

Students’ Union

This is the social heart of a university. The majority of Student Union buildings will house bars, clubs, quiet study areas and shops and also host numerous societies. Student Unions also employ welfare staff to offer your son/daughter advice and reassurance.


These are similar to terms in schools. The academic year at some universities, however, is divided into two ‘semesters’, Autumn and Spring.


Someone studying for their first degree. A graduate is someone who has completed this and has been awarded their degree.

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