What do I do in my non-contact hours?
For most students, while you are at school your teacher provides you with work to do throughout your day at school and they’ll also give you homework to do in the evenings/weekend. This means you have a good understanding of what is expected of you and there is always something to keep you busy. This is very rarely the case at university. For example, I have 12 ‘contact’ hours a week (albeit virtual contact hours given the circumstances). This is just over 1/3 of the time you would spend at school. This begs the question – what do university students do in their spare time to study?
This time is called independent study. The lectures usually provide you with a basic understanding of the topic. It is then up to you to develop your understanding in more detail. Usually, how I do this is to read the designated textbook reading. This allows me to develop my understanding of core content and helps clarify anything I don’t understand.
I also have four seminars a week which require preparation. These are often a set of questions that we have to answer and then discuss in our seminar with the tutor and other students. They attempt to provoke a debate and often discuss some of the more complex issues with a specific topic. For law, these usually concern areas in where there is conflicting case law or the law is in need of reform. These topics also provide good insights into the types of topics that will come up in the exam. To prepare for this, there is usually a set list of things that you should read so that you can answer the questions to the best of your ability. These articles are usually written by academics and talk about a controversial area of law. The lecturer will also provide articles that they think are interesting to read to develop your understanding.
The final thing some students find helpful is to look at past exam papers that relate to the current topic that is being taught in lectures. Most of the time there is a pattern because controversial points of law exist over time. This not only allows you to develop exam skills but it also allows you to understand what points the module convener expects from you in the exam. My best advice is to practice these in timed conditions to get yourself ready for the exam.
Finally, the world doesn’t revolve around studying. There is so much you can do in uni (during a ‘normal’ uni experience) that you will have a wide variety of choices presented to you. Whether you enjoy sports, going out or watching a movie. Societies hold different events throughout the year which allow you to socialize and make new friends.