AUT - Definition of Terms


Definition of Terms

Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of becoming a student is understanding the language, terminology and jargon that are used! Make sure you know the definition of some of the most common terms you’ll hear and see.

What does undergraduate and postgraduate mean?
An undergraduate programme is one that does not require any previous tertiary study for entry. Similarly, a postgraduate programme requires a certain previous level of tertiary study.

Certificates, diplomas, bachelor degrees, graduate certificates and graduate diplomas are considered undergraduate programmes. Postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas, master degrees and doctorates (PhDs) are postgraduate programmes.
(Please note that this information is of a very general nature. It may not be relevant, correct or appropriate for all papers, programmes, schools or faculties and does not constitute qualification-planning advice.)

What are majors and minors?
A major is an area of specialisation within your programme which normally makes up at least one third of your degree study (120 points). For example, you may choose to study a Bachelor of Health Science, majoring in Oral Health; or a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Japanese.

To complete a programme with a major requires completing certain requirements which are outlined in the AUT University Calendar - this normally involves completing certain papers, but there may be other requirements as well. Some people also complete their programmes with a minor - a short sequence of papers, usually over at least two levels in a subject area. A few people study a “double major” - two areas of specialisation.

For some programmes, a major can lead you down a specific career pathway. For example, you can study a Bachelor of Health Science and major in Oral Health, Nursing or Psychology.

In other programmes, choosing a major is entirely optional (sometimes called a “generic” qualification) - for example you may complete a Bachelor of Arts with no major if you wish to study papers as diverse as those from the Criminology, Chinese Language and Māori Development majors. If you require advice on majors and minors, it is best to talk to your Programme Leader in the first instance.
(Please note that this information is of a very general nature. It may not be relevant, correct or appropriate for all papers, programmes, schools or faculties and does not constitute qualification-planning advice.)

What are the differences between programmes, courses, modules, papers, etc?
Programmes (or courses) are the overall qualification you are studying towards - such as a Bachelor of Arts.

Papers (or modules)
are the individual components of a programme - such as “Introduction to Sociology A”.
Each paper has a point value and a level on the National Qualifications Framework. Most degree-level papers are worth 15 points and range from level 5 to level 7. Most degrees are 360 points, or three years full-time, with certain points required from each level as outlined in the AUT University Calendar.

Some papers have prerequisites (you must have successfully completed certain papers previously) and/or corequisites (you must be studying certain papers at the same time).

What’s the difference between a lecture, a tutorial and a lab?
A typical lecture will normally be around 45 minutes long and involve a presentation by an expert in that particular field. A lecture is a summary of the key parts within a subject area. Lectures can use a variety of methods to explain the information such as PowerPoint presentations, discussion, overheads and whiteboards. The number of students attending a lecture can vary from a large number of 200 to smaller numbers of 20-30. Lecture notes will also be accessible through AUTonline for many papers.

A tutorial is normally two hours in length, and follows a lecture in the same week. It is a more classroom-like setting with a smaller number of students, where you are given the opportunity to expand upon the knowledge gained from a lecture, ask questions about course content, seek advice about assignments, engage in class discussions, etc.

Some papers also have “labs”, which normally consist of practical learning or assessment for vocational (“hands-on”) topics.
Last updated: 14-Feb-2014 5.27pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

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