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Managing your time

Managing your time effectively is one of the key skills needed for success at university. It is important to understand what the university expects of you in terms of time-commitment and to carefully consider all of your personal or professional responsibilities that have to fit around your university schedule.

Your courses, credits and study hours

Most of your semester-long courses are 15 credits (some may be more), which translates to about 150 hours of learning for each course over the semester.  On average for one course, it is recommended that you allocate 10–12 study hours a week.  This means that a full-time study load is four courses, with a total of about 40 hours per week.

How do you break down this time allocation?

Most courses have 3-4 hours of class-time a week, including all lectures, tutorials, labs etc.

This leaves you with 7-8 hours per course that should be allocated to independent study. During this time you should be working on:

  • Assessments and assignments
  • Study for tests and exams
  • Quizzes
  • Thinking
  • Extra reading
  • Preparing for classes by reading
  • Solving problems
  • Writing
  • Reading and more reading
Watch the following video with helpful tips on how to manage your time.
Develop a schedule to allocate your time – and include all of your outside responsibilities and commitments. This will let you see how many hours you have per week and how to prioritise.

Of course, it would be nice if your workload were a steady 10-12 hours a week, but it’s usually messier than that. There is an ebb and flow to your coursework, so some weeks you will have a number of assignments to submit, and others will be less hectic – prepare for these weeks by being flexible and aware of your peak assessment times during the semester.

Plus, things never go smoothly! It is also likely you will have big and small disruptions throughout the semester. These are hard to manage with a full-time load, but the more prepared you are the easier it is to adjust at these times.

What about paid work?

Many students have to work part-time to be able to afford to manage your daily living costs. The university recommends that you should only do 15 hours of paid work if you are studying full-time. If you are having to work more than this to survive financially, it may be a good idea to discuss other financial options with student services.

What should you remember?

  • Recognise how many ‘study hours’ are expected in your courses
  • Understand how much emphasis is put on independent learning at University
  • Realise that time spent studying each week has been directly linked to academic success
  • Balance your commitments – don’t take on more than 15 hours of paid work a week
  • Start assignments early and keep on top of things