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    Whilst I agree with the idea of lumping Christmas Vac and inter-semester break into one long holiday and holding exams beforehand, I really object to the academic year starting so early and the lack of a proper reading week! (I gather they're effectively scrapping revision week and moving reading week to before exams?)
    This will surely end up being something like 13 weeks in one long stretch with no break? How on earth is that going to work without people having mental breakdowns?

    Thoughts?
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    What's going on?!
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      (Original post by Epione)
      Whilst I agree with the idea of lumping Christmas Vac and inter-semester break into one long holiday and holding exams beforehand, I really object to the academic year starting so early and the lack of a proper reading week! (I gather they're effectively scrapping revision week and moving reading week to before exams?)
      This will surely end up being something like 13 weeks in one long stretch with no break? How on earth is that going to work without people having mental breakdowns?

      Thoughts?
      That's how pretty much everywhere else in Scotland does it (if I'm understanding you correctly), with the exception of Strathclyde University I believe. St Andrews has always been different for the sake of it, tbh.

      What I found most ludicrous about St Andrews was how we had a reading week in November, less than a month before Christmas depending on when your modules stopped teaching. Then, after Christmas, we come back and sit exams (Merry Christmas? Ha ha ha, enjoy your revision) and get another two week break before Semester 2 starts sometime at the end of January?? It was utter nonsense and made very little sense.

      At Dundee University, Freshers Week is two weeks before St Andrews' and consequently teaching starts earlier. Teaching progresses without a break (except in some subjects, but it's not official University policy) for 12 weeks up until the start of December; it then stops, there's a week or two leading up to the exams, then it's home to a relaxing, study free Christmas (unless you're in your final year and have Honours project work to do). Semester 2 then starts at a sensible point in January instead of near the end like St Andrews does it.

      The St Andrews timetabling system was always a mess - they're not shafting you, just bringing the place in line with just about everywhere else in Scotland and believe me it'll work out for the better. It's a disgrace that you're expected to revise for exams over Christmas to be honest, and I always found that Semester 2 was stressful and rushed because it started so late and was thus closer to May.

      At my old school, we had a 16 week first term FFS. 12 weeks is nothing.
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      But semester one and two are equal in terms of teaching time? If it felt rushed that's surely due to individual subject workloads and not any fault of the time of year in which the 12 weeks of teaching before exams takes place.
      I like the idea of having exams before christmas and the two vacations put together as one long one, but the lack of reading week is such an issue for me - I only chose St. Andrews over universities closer to home because I knew that I'd never have to go more than 7 weeks without a week at home to see my boyfriend and family etc, just sort of shattered the way I saw the next few years working out.
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      Where did you hear this?
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      It's in the Saint.
      e: http://www.thesaint-online.com/?p=992
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        (Original post by Epione)
        It's in the Saint.
        e: http://www.thesaint-online.com/?p=992
        It appears I indeed was understanding you correctly.

        Seriously, I'll reiterate that it's a better system (and I know this having experienced both)... where's the problem exactly?
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        I really don't like it.
        In order to fit in teaching, revision and exams before Christmas, either we're going to have to start 3-4 weeks earlier, or every single module (sub-honours at least) will have to be revised - because even by starting a week earlier you're only allowing one week for revision and then it'd be time to break for Christmas.

        I much prefer the current system - I find it useful to have an extra holiday (Christmas) for revision - IF I feel I need it, generally I don't stress about exams too much over Christmas. I'd much prefer to have lots of little holidays spread throughout the year (like we have now) than one big block. I love first semester compared to second, because we get the Christmas holiday to relax a bit before revision week, as opposed to teaching ending and revision week beginning straightaway. You are not EXPECTED to revise over Christmas, in fact, if I do any work at all, it's more consolidating my notes than actual proper revision.

        Furthermore, the arguments that it'll be better for international students not flying home as much - ridiculous. No one from overseas that I know goes home for reading week AND christmas AND intersemester AND easter. They go home at Christmas and Easter, using reading week/intersemester to travel a bit more around the UK/Europe. The new semester would make this impossible - as reading week would be 'revision' time, and intersemester would be swallowed by the Christmas holiday.
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        I like the sound of it. I'm just annoyed that I'll have graduated by the time it comes in.
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        (Original post by ch0llima)
        It appears I indeed was understanding you correctly.

        Seriously, I'll reiterate that it's a better system (and I know this having experienced both)... where's the problem exactly?
        The fact that there is a huge long bulk of teaching time with no legitimate period to visit home! 3 solid months here at a time is going to kill people.
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        Personally, I quite like the way it is (i'm going to need Christmas to rectify the mess my learning is in)

        But it really does seem to make sense having exams before Christmas just like everywhere else. The idea that there will be a huge crisis because there's no reading week seems odd to me, everywhere else manages?
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        i've yet to meet anyone who has actually ever done any work in reading week.
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        (Original post by Meteorshower)
        Personally, I quite like the way it is (i'm going to need Christmas to rectify the mess my learning is in)

        But it really does seem to make sense having exams before Christmas just like everywhere else. The idea that there will be a huge crisis because there's no reading week seems odd to me, everywhere else manages?
        I don't know anyone who has stayed at university for three solid months? All my friends from home have 8 weeks maximum before a break of some sort...
        I guess it's not so much of an issue if you only live a couple of hours away, but when it's an 8 hour journey it means that it's difficult to just nip home for a weekend...
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        (Original post by Square)
        i've yet to meet anyone who has actually ever done any work in reading week.
        Nice to meet you.
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          (Original post by Epione)
          The fact that there is a huge long bulk of teaching time with no legitimate period to visit home! 3 solid months here at a time is going to kill people.
          Never bothered anyone I know at other universities that use this system... I think you're making an issue where one doesn't exist.

          (Original post by Meteorshower)
          But it really does seem to make sense having exams before Christmas just like everywhere else. The idea that there will be a huge crisis because there's no reading week seems odd to me, everywhere else manages?
          This. Dundee University has no official reading week (some subjects e.g. Law have their own ones and some modules arbitrarily take a week off), and nobody has ever struggled to prepare for exams. Mind you, the whole academic calendar is designed with this in mind, which is what I guess St Andrews is trying to do.

          I remember the Comp Sci lecturing staff at St Andrews saying "Reading week... go home, recharge your batteries... come back refreshed". This was especially amusing when they handed out assignments due in for pretty much the first day back - so much for the recharging batteries and coming back refreshed part, let alone having time to consolidate what you've already learned up until that point.

          In my experience, reading week was so close to the Christmas holidays that it seemed pointless (one week off, another 4 weeks of teaching then a one month break? Really?) Also, Christmas wasn't exactly a nice experience with exams looming, regardless of whether or not you actually did any revision - it's supposed to be a time of peace and relaxation.

          (Original post by Square)
          i've yet to meet anyone who has actually ever done any work in reading week.
          Hey man, how u doin'?

          (Original post by Epione)
          I don't know anyone who has stayed at university for three solid months? All my friends from home have 8 weeks maximum before a break of some sort...
          I guess it's not so much of an issue if you only live a couple of hours away, but when it's an 8 hour journey it means that it's difficult to just nip home for a weekend...
          I've known international students who didn't even go home for Christmas, and their families actually came over and visited as opposed to the other way round. Again, I think you're making an issue where one doesn't exist.

          Put it this way: if the St Andrews academic calendar is the best one, why isn't it more widely used by other universities?
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          The idea of moving the semester 1 exams seems to have been in discussion for quite a while, but I suspect that because either option has its pros and cons, in the past the student body has probably failed to express a preference strong enough for the university to bother changing things. Personally I prefer having a longer break before exams - I always feel like a lot of material is covered in the time it's taught and you need a little while to absorb it all.

          It won't affect me now, but I think people will miss reading week. Starting the semester two weeks earlier and keeping reading week would, in my opinion, not put fresher's week too out-of-synch with other universities and would make the semester a better experience. But we'll see.
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          (Original post by Epione)
          I don't know anyone who has stayed at university for three solid months? All my friends from home have 8 weeks maximum before a break of some sort...
          I guess it's not so much of an issue if you only live a couple of hours away, but when it's an 8 hour journey it means that it's difficult to just nip home for a weekend...
          There are plenty of people who don't go home in reading week, myself included. And as ch0llima is saying plenty other unis have it that way too.

          Some people prefer it the way it is, some don't. But everyone will be able to deal with it either way.
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          I think the new system described sounds so much better and I look forward to it for my honours years
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          As far as I gather, the current first years get the worst of it because we'll miss out on having exams before Christmas and when we're honours students we'll have to do all our exams in May - meaning we'll have to revise two modules' worth of work at a time instead of one...
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          (Original post by fever skin)
          As far as I gather, the current first years get the worst of it because we'll miss out on having exams before Christmas and when we're honours students we'll have to do all our exams in May - meaning we'll have to revise two modules' worth of work at a time instead of one...
          Noo? I thought for honours the dept decides whether they have semester 1 exams before or after Christmas. I read nothing about doing all of them in May.
         
         
         
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