SHU’s City Campus is like that of QUT’s Kelvin Grove Campus. There are multiple university buildings, some close together and others a small walk away. Sprinkled among them are cafes, pubs and cute boutique shops.
The facilities at SHU are identical to those at QUT, although there are several differences between the two university’s educational systems.
For starters, students don’t get to choose their own timetable. Classes are assigned to students at the beginning of the semester and there’s a general expectation that students should mould their life outside of university (such as work, family and extracurricular activities) around those times. Because of this, classes are often spread apart. For example, you might have a tutorial from 9am to 11am and then another tutorial from 5pm to 7pm.
Lectures are one-hour long and tutorials are two-hours long.
Lectures are a lot more intimate at SHU than they are at QUT. There are about 40 students per lecture, and the lectures are often held in a small classroom. During most lectures, the lecturer will take attendance. Attendance doesn’t have any influence over your grade, but if the lecturer notices you’re not attending for an extended period (around three weeks, I’ve been told), then they’ll contact you to see if you’re alright.
Tutorials at SHU are around the same size as those at QUT (around 15 people). However, unlike QUT, tutorials at SHU are a lot more practise-based. For example, in one of my units, we often spent half the tutorial (one hour) learning from our tutor and the other half (one hour) writing content based on that week’s prompts. Likewise, in another unit, we spent half the tutorial (one hour) learning about new photographic techniques, and the other half (one hour) in the streets of Sheffield, aspiring to replicate those given techniques.
I found the tutors at SHU to be a lot more compassionate than those at QUT. Each of my SHU tutors: made a conscious effort to learn everyone’s name; often made rounds during classes to chat one-on-one with students and see how they were faring with both the coursework and life; stressed the fact that they were there to help and that no question was too idiotic; and posted times that they were free during the week so that students could pop in for a chat.
In addition, tutors at SHU are able (and often more than happy) to accept student drafts. Drafting is not compulsory at SHU, nor is it expected, but the option is available to all students (one which I took advantage of on multiple occasions).
SHU units had a lot fewer assignments due per semester than that of QUT units. For each SHU class, I had just two assignments due (a total of six for the semester). This was both good and bad. Good, in that I had fewer assignments to do, and could therefore spend more time perfecting the given assignments or traveling abroad. Bad, because it meant that each assignment was worth a lot of my overall grade and that I was often tempted to procrastinate.
The grading structure at SHU (as with all English universities) is a lot less harsh than those of Australian universities (such as QUT). To get a First (the English equivalent of a High Distinction), you must score a mark of 70%+. At QUT, a 65% to 74% mark gets you a Credit; a 75% to 84% mark gets you a Distinction; and you must score a mark of 85%+ to get a High Distinction.
Overall, I found that the less harsh grading structure, coupled with fewer assignments and the option for assignments to be drafted, made for a much more stress-free and rewarding educational environment than that of QUT.