University Term Times in the UK

Generally, the UK university academic year runs from September to June, allowing postgraduate students an opportunity to write their dissertation during the Summer. There has been an increasing trend for postgraduate students to begin their course in January, which can be an appealing option for students who feel they might not quite be ready to start their postgraduate studies immediately after completing their undergraduate study. It can also be a good option for incoming international students from the Southern Hemisphere as starting a postgraduate course in January aligns with their term times. Here, we take a look at University Term Times in the UK. 

The dates for beginning and end of term are different for each university. However, they all usually give students long breaks during the Summer months as well as adequate Christmas and Easter breaks. Any undergraduate students who have an extended year, such as Education students who have teaching practice, details will usually be published in their individual guides/handbooks. In some postgraduate courses, students may be expected to study beyond the end of their third term to prepare for their dissertation. 

Regarding the Christmas break, many students, including postgraduate and undergraduate students that possibly have exams in January, often wonder how they can spend their time productively.

Here are some useful tips:

  • It is important to rest and recuperate over the Christmas holidays. It is the ideal time to take a break from studying, visit close family and friends. If you were living away from home during the semester then being home for Christmas will give you that much needed break to recharge. 
  • It is good to enjoy the festive period but it is important to revise and to keep on top of your study at the same time. A good way to do this is to give yourself designated days off studying for leisure and family time. By doing this you will be more focused to get work done on your study days. It is important not to overdo it – only study on your study days and get plenty of rest.   
  • The break may give you time to prepare for exams or work on what you want to write about for your thesis. 

School Term

When your semester calendar is cut into sections (terms) it is likely that your school year will be split into three sections. These terms will usually run from September to December, January to March and April to June. The work you are required to do varies with each term, especially April to June, which is usually an “exam term”. Universities tend to set projects, assignments or essays for each term with deadlines for the end. It is important to keep early December and early March as free as possible. 

Terms are more common at older UK Universities. They even have special names at some of these universities. For example, at Durnham University the three names for the terms are Michaelmas, Epiphany and Easter. 

School Semesters

A semester refers to the teaching periods for taught modules. Many schools use the traditional semester calendar formatting. Schools such as the University of Liverpool use semesters so they can alternate their timetables during the year. This means that those who attend the school are likely to have somewhat different course schedules at different times in the year.

Holidays to Focus on

The typical university vacation times are Easter, Christmas and during the Summer holidays. Christmas holidays usually begin around the 19th of December and last until the 20th January. Easter Holidays can last from roughly the end of April until mid-June. They vary from university to university so please check the term calendar of the university you want to study at for more details. During those vacation periods students who live on campus will be expected to go home. Different arrangements are made for international students though. The longer breaks are considered a perfect time for students to be able to sight-see, take time off and spend time with family and friends.

What is a Reading Week?

Most universities give students a “reading week”, which is a break from lectures and tutorials for 7 days. It is usually set for the end of October and the start of November. It is a week for students to work and literally read! It can be an ideal opportunity to work on assignments without having to balance it with attending lectures. Having a full week to work on assignments without worrying about having to miss lectures is a week that has got the writer of this piece out of assignment trouble on many occasions! But like any other holiday, do not over do it! You may need a day or two for leisure and to recharge.  



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