Life as a Mature-aged student at The University of Western Australia: Your questions answered

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Life as a Mature-aged student at

The University of Western Australia:

Your questions answered

  1. How do I know what subjects to choose?
    The Unistart website ( will provide links to various sources of information that will help you choose the subjects (units) in which to enrol. Your choice of units will need to be approved by a faculty course adviser, at the enrolment session.

    You will probably also want to check when units are taught, so you can plan your study alongside your other commitments. The timetable website ( will help you do this. It is quite complicated, but there are helpful instructions for first-time users on the home page of the site.

    If you’re starting out in the MAP program, there will be a list of approved text-rich units available, one of which you may be required to complete in order to satisfy the University’s English Language Competence requirement. They are often an excellent starting point for your first enrolment.

  2. How are subjects (units) taught?
    Most university subjects are taught using a combination of large-scale lectures and smaller-scale tutorials, workshops or laboratory sessions. Many first-year units (in courses like Commerce and Arts) require you to attend two lectures and one tutorial each week during Semester. Semesters last for thirteen weeks, generally with a one-week non-teaching period part-way through the semester. At the end of each semester there is a one-week study period, then an examination period.

  3. When are classes held?

The majority of lectures and tutorials take place from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 5 pm. However there are some classes that take place outside these hours. Some lectures have repeat sessions, which can help in juggling your attendance. You will generally find that the lectures and tutorials for a unit are spread throughout the week.

  1. What is a lecture?

A lecture is a presentation delivered to students by a staff member or guest lecturer on relevant unit course material. Some printed notes may be provided, but you will also need to take down your own notes from what is said. The number of students attending a lecture can vary from 25 – 200, though some first-year units are significantly larger, with up to a 1000 students. Large cohort lectures are held in the Octagon Theatre.

  1. How long is each class?

Lectures and individual tutorials are usually around 45 minutes in duration. In some units a single 1 hour and 45 minute lecture replaces two separate 45 minute lectures.

  1. Must I attend all lectures?

It is advisable to attend all lectures. However if you miss a lecture, it is possible to listen to many lectures online, through the University’s Lectopia system. Please note, though, that not all lectures are recorded. Ask your Unit Coordinator whether or not lectures are recorded in a particular Unit.

  1. Are there lectures on public holidays and school holidays?

The University will open for business (including classes) on a number of public holidays during the year, namely:

7 March (Labour Day)

6 June (Foundation Day)

28 October (Queen’s Birthday)

However, the University is closed – and no classes held - on Australia Day, ANZAC Day (when it falls on a weekday), Good Friday and Easter Monday.
To check if academic holidays coincide with school holidays please refer to or

  1. What is a tutorial?

Tutorials are linked to the relevant week’s lecture and are designed to encourage discussion about the content of the lecture. They are run by university tutors and are much smaller in student numbers compared to lectures. Tutorials are sessions which involve student participation. This can take the form of discussion of set readings or presentation of papers or projects. Students are often required to make presentations during tutorials as part of their assessment.

  1. Is attendance required at tutorials?

Tutorials are compulsory. Attendance is often recorded and noted and may form part of your assessment for that unit.

  1. How do you decide which tutorial group to join?

Tutorials are offered at different times and dates, usually during the week of the lecture or the following. The timetable website shows tutorial scheduling for most units. Students select their preferred tutorial times either at enrolments or soon after, using an OnLine Class Registration system.

  1. What are laboratory and workshop classes?

Laboratory classes are an integral part of studying science subjects such as zoology or psychology. These classes are usually held in a science laboratory, with the necessary equipment for students to carry out experimental activities under the supervision of a Demonstrator. Writing up laboratory reports is generally required, so good note-taking is essential. Some laboratory classes are computer-based, for example some maths units and subjects such as Digital Design.

  1. What are workshop classes?

Like laboratory classes, workshop classes have a practical, hands-on approach to learning. Subjects such as fine arts and architecture may contain workshop classes.

  1. Is attendance required at laboratory and workshop classes?

Laboratory and workshop classes are an integral part of the course of study and attendance is compulsory.

  1. Do I have to sit exams?
    Most introductory units include an exam as part of their assessment program. It is likely your first units will also require some other types of assessment; possibly a tutorial paper and presentation and a more extensive essay. All the details of the assessment for a unit will be provided for you in the Unit Outline, which you should receive during the first few weeks of classes (usually in the first lecture).

  2. I have not been to the campus before. Are there any guided tours for new students?

Familiarisation tours of the campus are provided as part of the University’s Orientation activities, held the week before classes begin.
The University is a public space and is open at all hours and it is one of the most beautiful campuses in Australia. You are welcome to visit the grounds with your friends and family which will be an enjoyable way to get to know the campus.

  1. Do I need to be computer literate?

Basic computing skills are essential to your life as a student. Computer skills are necessary to undertake research, to check your student emails and to complete your assignments (most assignments are expected to be typed).
If you do not know how to use a computer, we suggest that you seek assistance -before uni commences - from a family member or friend who can show you basic skills. Alternatively, you may wish to enrol in a computer course at TAFE, Curtin University or Canning College. For details please refer to the following websites.
Curtin Computer Training Centre:
Canning College:

Central TAFE:

  1. Do I need to have a computer at home?

Life will be much easier if you have a computer at home but it is not essential as there are facilities on campus which are available to students

  1. I left school some years ago and would like to know what support is provided to students.

Student Services provides a range of services to ensure that our students do not feel alone. For a full range of what is offered please refer to our websites on and
In addition, Student Support also provides the following services:

The type of support can range from academic workshops, one on one consultations, peer learning groups and casual drop in sessions.

Topics covered can include:

  • Study Techniques

  • Time Management

  • Essay Writing

  • Research Skill

  • Critical Thinking

Additional emotional support can be found through the counselling team at Student Support, Student Services.
Financial Aid

Financial support and information is provided through the Guild as well as the Financial Aid office, Student Support, Student Services.
Careers Centre
Provides guidance to make a successful transition to employment

  1. What do I do if I’m having trouble with my studies?
    It’s important that you talk to someone if you’re having difficulties with your studies. Staff providing the support services listed above are always happy to assist. Please be aware that, if you feel it is necessary to withdraw from your studies, you need to do so before the relevant census date (31 March for standard semester one units or 31 August for standard semester two units) if you wish to avoid a financial liability for the unit. For each teaching period there is also an academic withdrawal date, a couple of weeks after the census date. If you withdraw from a unit after this date (or do not complete it for any other reason) you will record a fail grade for that unit.

  1. What happens if I fail a unit?
    Each course has rules about the need to make satisfactory academic progress Satisfactory progress is usually defined as passing at least half THE VALUE of units attempted in any academic year, not the absolute number of units.  This is particularly important in courses such as Fine Arts and Architecture, where there are 12 point units – you could pass a 6-point unit, fail a 12-point unit and be deemed to have made unsatisfactory progress.  Also, in Faculties such as ALVAH, failure to make satisfactory progress for the FIRST TIME will result in suspension (unless the student shows cause, appeals etc). 

  1. If you do not make satisfactory academic progress, you will be placed on probation, which will require you to talk with nominated faculty advisers to identify and deal with any issues that may be affecting your studies. Unfortunately, ongoing failure to make satisfactory academic progress may result in your studies being suspended for a year, or terminated completely. That is why it’s important to speak to someone if you’re experiencing difficulties. We’ll do what we can to help you succeed in your studies.

  2. How about child care – are there facilities on campus?

There are both long day care and afterschool care facilities located on or close by to the UWA campus. Vacation care is also available during school holidays through student services childcare and UWA Sports. To view details please refer to the websites:

    • Student Services Child Care:

    • Unicare Child Care Centre:

    • UniSports school holiday programme:

  1. I’d like to apply for a parking bay – is this possible?

Parking bays are limited on campus and not available to first year students, although there are public bays along Hackett Drive. However the campus is well serviced by buses. Please refer for details to

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