A Week in the Life of a University of SOAS Student
Here are the week in the life guides written by SOAS Students. If you're studying at SOAS and want to add your own account, feel free to click edit and add your week following the existing structure.
Development Studies and Geography
Year of Study: 1st year
Geography tutorial (covers both The Natural Environment and Geography, Society and Development - but the tutorial leader is a phd student for development at King's, so we just talk about development related things). 11:30-12:30, followed by half an hour break, then 13:00-15:00 lecture (The Natural Environment).
11:00-13:00 lecture (Comparative Growth in Asia and Africa).
10:00-11:00 tutorial (Comparative Growth in Asia and Africa). 13:00-15:00 lecture (Geography, Society and Development). Best lecture!
13:00-14:00 tutorial (Development Conditions and Experience). 15:00-17:00 lecture (Development Conditions and Experience).
Economics and Politics
Username: Leanne Antonia
Year of Study: 1st year
9-11 - Introduction to Quantitative Methods Lecture I only took Maths to GCSE level so the first half of the term mostly compromises of going over GCSE maths that is needed for economics, after Reading Week in the first term we started going onto A-Level type maths and it's economic applications. Hard work at 9am on a Monday, not many people turn up, but when it is full there are about 60 of us. This is held in Russell Square so we have to leave Dinwiddy at 8.30am.
2-3 - Comparative and International Politics Tutorial Here we basically go over the readings that were set (which are in the study packs). My tutor is a guy called Gonzo and he can tell very easily if you haven't done the reading, so it's pretty imperative. We get set tutorial questions that we discuss in the hour. There are about 7 people in my class and we individually get grilled on the readings, so I find that I have to make notes when I'm doing the reading for this class. This is over in Vernon Square I think for all the tutorial groups.
3-4 - Comparative and International Politics Lecture In the first term you study international politics which is taught by Steve and then after Christmas you go onto comparative politics, which is apparently taught by another good lecturer. Interesting module that deals with current issues and is essentially International Relations. There are probably about 80 odd people in the lecture and attendence is high because its always interesting. Its at the other end of the corridor from the previous tutorial so I don't have to ruse from one to another.
Non academic wise I go to the gym between about 11.15-12.15 and have enough time to pop back to Dinwiddy, freshen up and eat some lunch.
11-12 - Introduction to Political Study Tutorial The tutor for this course is also the lecturer, which is good for the continuity, and she is a better tutor than a lecturer. This course is essentially Political Theory, we look at theories of democracy and essential first term readings include JS Mill's On Liberty and Jean Jacques Rousseau's On the Social Contract. We have reading for this from the study packs as well, but you CAN get away with not doing it, although of course it is highly recommended. This is over in Russell Square, but some tutorial groups are in Vernon Square for this.
3-5 - Introduction to Economic Analysis Lecture If you have done A-Level economics then this module isn't too bad. In the first year you study Micro in the first term and Macro in the second term. This is a huge lecture with 100+ people in it. Our current lecturer is interesting...completely mad but it makes it a bit more interesting. We have a 20 minute break inbetween and the lecturer is always about 15 minutes late so it doesn't run for the full 2 hours. We generally spend time playing consequences and eating ice cream near the back of the room And then only a short walk home afterwards as this is in Vernon.
I go to the gym after my Political Study tutorial for an hour. A group of us usually do our Econ Analysis homework together tonight, it helps to do it in a group because the lecturer makes up the questions and they are sometimes a bit odd...so it's nice to share your confusion with others
Day off for me, no lectures, but I spend my time doing my reading and at the moment, coursework. If you do have a day off it really is important to spend it wisely. Don't get up too late and work as much as possible. I generally do my washing this day as well as I'm in Dinwiddy all day.
Good night to go out, lots of student nights are held on Wednesdays...*cough* Cheapskates *cough* Otherwise there are always economics seminars being held on Wednesdays....which I keep on meaning to go to, but...you know...
11-12 - Introduction to Quantitative Methods Tutorial In the lecture you get given a question set which goes over the information taught in the lecture. You need to complete this before the tutorial as it only consists of going over the set and answering any queries. Useful to go to if you have struggled with the information in the lecture. Usually held in the Brunei Gallery so if you get bored you can stare out the big windows into the courtyard :P
2-3 - Introduction to Economic Analysis Tutorial I've just got back from this Basically we get given an exercise that we need to complete before the next tutorial, and again we go over it. We've also started to talk about the theory in greater depth. In both economics tutorials you are taught by a PHD student, which in the case of Econ Analysis is annoying as her area of research is neither mirco or macro economics, so she doesn't know her theory that well. This is over in Vernon. There is usually quite a lot of reading for this module, and I recommend you buy the books and do the reading, as it explains the theories in other ways and goes into a lot more detail. Make notes and draw the diagrams!
I usually go to the gym after my Quant Methods tutorial.
2-3 - Introduction to Political Study Lecture This is over at Vernon Square so its a nice day to have a lie in Anyway, this lecture is...ok. Manjeet takes it, and as said previously, she is a better tutor than a lecturer. Normally consists of a Powerpoint presentation and her reading her notes off the paper. She talk pretty fast but she does put up all her presentations and notes online, which is quite handy if you do have to miss the lecture...(or if you just can't follow her...) This is in Vernon Square and last week there were very few people in the lecture, when there should be about 80.
I tend to go home quite a few weekends as I only live 40-50 minutes away by train, so I head home after my lecture on Friday. During the weekend though I do any necessary politics reading, and intend to (but rarely get around to) doing Econ Analysis reading.
Year of Study:
Tutorial - Principles & Management of Marketing, 3-4: It's a bit awkwardly timed imo, since the other two are on a different day, and it feels a bit of an effort to go in just for an hour, but it's easily my favourite tutorial. We're given case studies each week, and have to answer questions on it. the teacher really expects a lot from you, but it feels quite informal. the case study questions usually focus on the stuff we learned in the previous lecture. whilst not difficult per say, it really makes you think, and I find this the most rewarding of all my classes.
I usually use my spare time in this day to do some work for the Tuesday and go to the gym. possibly an evening out.
My busisest day.
Tutorial - Management in China, 1-2: The reading for this is slightly dry, but we usually split the class into two groups and focus on different points from the reading, then the teacher relates it to the work we'll do in our lecture on Friday.
Lecture - Introduction to Accounting, 3-5: Quite literally the dullest thing ever to occur, and whilst not overly difficult, the lecturer covers so much in the two hours you just can't take it all in. my attention usually drifts off after about 40/50 minutes. I find this the hardest of my modules
Tutorial - Introduction to Accounting, 5-6: I've only had two of these so far, but they've been far less interactive than all my others. Other people on this course and I find we have very little energy to bother with this due to the lecture right before it.
I don't normally do anything in this evening, maybe an extended play on farmville
Lecture - Principles & Management of Marketing, 9-11: the lecturer doesn't like you taking notes, but it's useful to take note of anything important that isn't on the lecture slides (btw, all the courses upload lecture slides on the BLE, so i reccomend that for all lectures). Marketing, i've found, is mostly common sense, and this gives you a really good foundation for the compulsory marketing modules in later years.
I normally use the rest of Wednesday as my "day off" aka - go to the gym, come home, achieve nothing, probably go out for a session in the evening.
Lecture - History & Culture of China, 11-1: SO SO BORING. my god. it really pisses me off that this is a compulsory module, and most management students rarely ever attend, or leave halfway through. I find history is my strong point though, so it's not too heavy on the brain. I usually eat lunch halfway through the lecture, which makes some noise, but c'est la vie
afterwards I prepare for the tutorial tommorrow, and if i'm in the mood (which I rarely am), I do some accounting work for the following week.
Lecture - Management in China, 9-11: this is the lecture I enjoy the most, since it covers all sorts of things, from management/business practices in the pre-reform era, to the transition period, and modern challenges and growth. I wish it wasn't so damn early so I would pay more attention.
Tutorial - History & Culture of China, 12-1: specifically for management students as none turned up to the tutorials for the first week LOL. I find it MUCH more useful than the lectures, even though the lecturer can be a bit bitchy at times.
afterwards I gym it and then sod all until Sunday/Monday apart from drinking, clubbing, hangovers and the usual
I find the readings very manageable, I just wish the timetable was slightly better structured.
Japanese and Korean
Japanese and Korean - One
Year of Study: 1st year
I'm a first year doing BA Japanese and Korean. People who do this: You won't learn Korean language until year two but considering the Japanese side, this is actually a good thing. It's pretty intense.
Every week I have ten hours of Japanese language. And five hours of lectures (Japanese history and Korean history.) I'm in elementary Japanese (EJ) class which is basically for people who when they started out, didn't know much Japanese. There is an advanced class (AJ) who are people who did GCSE (and remember it still), A Level, spent significant time in Japan etc. If you're really pro you can get into second year straight away. :P No one cares which group you're in so don't go thinking "oh I'm gonna be in AJ cuz I'm really clever" - tbh AJ seems a bit of a disadvantage because you'll have less class time but cover the same amount of work. (but seeing as you already know some Japanese you will cope. My friends from AJ tell me the teachers said that EJ people will be better at the end because AJ students get complacent.. we'll see.)
11-12 - Weekly "quiz." (Yes, that's right. There is a test every week and although it's not major, it gives you something to work for so don't worry.) 12-1 - Grammar (Cover one chapter from the textbook.) 2-3 - Reading class (Basically.. reading a story of some kind and answering questions.)
9-11 - Grammar (Review chapter from Monday and cover another. You mostly do two chapters a week from minna no nihongo. Occasionally three. ) 12-1 - Practical class (Speaking class. You practice conversations from the book. A lot of people hate this class. This one is a different teacher from the Friday one. More often you do things from a sheet or "roleplays" e.g. in a shop in this lesson.)
10-11 Kanji class (This comprises going over the 20 (25 after 2 months or so) kanji for that week, new katakana words/spelling/intonation and new readings of words which have a lot.) 11-12 - Writing class (hm. Learning how to write? It's like specific details e.g. Arabic or kanji numerals, paragraph spaces (lol) and differences between similar words. Every week we have to do a piece of writing e.g. a postcard.)
The Japanese department has this day off so if you're single honours, lucky you. 3-5 Korean history to the 20th C. (This covers from palaeolithic (stone age) up to the first half of 20th C I think. Mostly it's about the middle of that period e.g. 3 kingdoms.)
10-11 Translation class (At the start you'll have a vocabulary/spelling test for the words from the two chapters (30~50 words/ch - not as hard as it sounds) of that week. Then you'll go over the translation homework which you did the night before.) 12-1 - Practical (see previous.) 1:15 - 4 Aspects of Japanese Culture (Everyone's favourite. It's pretty interesting as long as it's not about religion - there's a different teacher for that and she's actually a phD student so it's not that great. Anyway, mainly it's Alan Cummings who's not bad. There's a break in the middle and one "lecture" either side.)
Mostly people have the same classes on the days like my timetable but they might be at a different time. There is another Korean class (modern history) on Tuesday. For dual-honours students, only the Japanese language classes are compulsory. So you don't need to take Aspects (there might be a requirement for your other department, though. I had to take at least one Korean module, although there was only two on offer this year.)
About homework: Every week you will do: the grammar exercises from minna corresponding to the chapters you covered, the listening exercises from minna for those chapters, the reading homework (e.g. translations, questions), writing homework, kanji homework 1 and 2 (both easy), grammar exercises from the SOAS work book and translation from the SOAS book
Japanese and Korean - Two
Year of Study:
Well I am in Waseda, Tokyo, now, but I can describe an ordinary week in SOAS, although I took a gap year, so it's around 2 years ago I started at uni now! I take Japanese and Korean and I went into second year since I had already studied it at A-level, although I only ended up taking language classes...
Grammar and vocabulary - a general core lesson by Tanaka-Sensei, introducing the week's text in the textbook. The second half of the year used a book with no English, even with the explanations - it seemed daunting at the time, but now it's a case of "atari mae jan?"
Listening comprehension in Japanese with Kawabata sensei, which always provided some amusement, either from her, or the material we used.
Writing and Reading - this started off with learning hangul and progressing to lessons based heavily on grammar and translation.
Just Korean - mainly aural and oral skills, normally including roleplays.
Reading class - probably the class (along with translation) that requires more than just memory - it included reading through Japanese texts with a fine toothed comb and fully understanding the text. Often my answers would be "technically" correct since I found the content reasonably straightforward, especially after it had been explained, but often (as with most people) I was always greeted with red scribblings all over my answer sheet where I had not completely answered the question or not put things which I thought could be inferred from the answer I already gave!
Speaking - This would include role play and learning oral expressions including those from every day life up to situations requiring Keigo (politer forms of Japanese)
Korean class - similar to Monday
Again, just Korean - similar class to Tuesday.
The busiest day - it started from 10 non stop through until 3pm...yowch...actually now I have it even worse since I have Wednesdays at Waseda from 10:40 through to 17:50, (albeit with Lunch of course).
First is the Kanji quiz, which involves writing down a dictation from the teacher, which normally includes the week's kanji, although sometimes, Kanji from previous weeks would also sneak in - we would then translate those sentences as well. Then, similarly to Monday, we would review grammar.
Translation - one of my favourite classes - we would prepare translations of certain paragraphs and 4 volunteers would write theirs on the board, and then the teacher would cover the translations highlighting errors and explaining the best translations.
Writing - this class (with the legendary Kashiwagi Sensei) This would often involve writing essays or short texts and discuss writing techniques.
Korean - similar lesson to Monday/Wednesday.
Actually writing that brings back a lot of memories....
Japanese and Linguistics
Year of Study:
I'm doing BA Japanese and Linguistics, with my 4 units split evenly between the two subjects. I'm also in the Japanese Accelerated Japanese class, and Fourr is absolutely correct - I really wish I weren't. I did the GCSE in the summer of year 13 and did really well, but we've covered pretty much the whole GCSE course in a matter of 6 or 7 weeks, including probably more Kanji than is required for GCSE. So, although I had considerable prior knowledge of Japanese compared with most of the people on the course, people who learned Japanese from scratch are already the same standard as me.
10-11 : Clinic. I don't think Fourr mentioned this. It's an "optional" class, where you do listening exercises from Minna on the computers. It's only optional in the sense that you have to do the exercises anyway, so you could just do them at home instead. Also, if you're struggling, then your teacher will tell you that you have to go. 11-12 : Weekly Quiz. Fun times for all. Also, don't be scared but continuous assessment constitutes part of your year 1 degree score, although only about 10% or so [also, your year 1 score DOES NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE to your score for the whole degree] 12-1 : Grammar 1-3 : Introduction to Grammatical Structure Lecture. This is a real pain in the a-hole, as it's at the Vernon Square campus a 20 minute walk away, so I have to leave Grammar early and arrive to this a little late. In terms of the lecture, it's quite enjoyable, if a little dull in places.
9-10 : Grammar 10-11 : Practical
12.30 or thereabouts : I offer my custom to the great SOAS institution/legends who are the Hare Krishna guys. They come every day with a wagon of free vegetarian curry [but seriously, give them a donation, you skinflints] which is really really top quality stuff. They also boast the latest in trouser-related sartorial elegance ; you'll know what I mean when you see them. Also, if you take the trouble to learn their names, they'll give you massive portions, more than you can handle.
1-2 : Reading 3-5 : Introduction to the Study of Language Learning [ISLL] Lecture. This is a Japanese course module, although it's very Linguistic-y. I happen to love it, but in a class of 40 or so, there are about 5 of us who like it, maximum. Seriously, unless you really enjoy learning about the theories behind language learning and acquisition [and are prepared to learn a LOT of confusing terminology - Linguistics is like that], do whatever you can to avoid this course. If you don't like it, then you will hate these lectures. Dr Pizziconi is really cool about it, she encourages you to drop it if you don't like it, because if you don't, you will end up loathing it. On the positive side, if you do like it [like me], it's one of the highlights of the week.
I have absolutely no lessons whatsoever today. It's wonderful. 7 : SOAS Pub Quiz. £1 entry. My team has won twice in about 4 or 5 attempts already this term. We love it, because overall we've made our entrance fees back in winnings.
1-3 : General Linguistics Lecture. Covers all the main areas of Linguistics in brief, but interesting, detail. You'll spend half your time sitting there making strange noises. 3-4 : Introduction to Grammatical Structure Tutorial. An hour spent going over what we learned on Monday.
9-10 : Kanji 10-11 : Writing 1-2 : General Linguistics Tutorial. With our tutor Rados, the Romanian [we think] who has just come back from the Solomon Islands "on a Linguistics field trip, honest", although most of it was probably spent getting drunk on the beach. He's a great character, really knows his stuff. 6-8 : BOGOF on all drinks at the ULU bar, which means that a pint of Kronenbourg/etc works out at £1.20 or so.
No lessons at weekends.
When you arrive, teachers will say that you should spend at least as long doing homework/reading each week as you do in lessons, preferably double. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. You can wing it by doing no reading whatsoever for Linguistics, doing the bare minimum of Japanese homework [which actually works out at about 7 hours a week anyway] and revising on the morning of your weekly quiz, but seriously. Do exactly what the teachers tell you to do as a minimum requirement. It's not school anymore, and a lot of people are still yet to come to terms with this. You can't expect to be spoonfed and chased up ; if you hand in your homework late, you aren't given marks for it, which harms your continuous assessment grade. If you don't do your reading, you'll understand nothing in the lectures, and you'll seriously irritate everyone else who HAS done the reading by asking stupid questions which are explained in the reading which everyone else knows because they made the effort to do the reading, and you'll be wasting everyone's time. This is university ; deal with it. This isn't me being harsh or anything, this is what university is, and it's what you need to learn ASAFP. University, especially SOAS, is amaaaazing - but it's totally different form school, and the sooner you learn that the better.
Come and join us at SOAS, it honestly is brilliant.
Year of Study: 1st year
Mondays / 1-3pm @ Vernon Square
Introduction to Grammatical structure, the first term is with Dr Flouraki, who doesn't like giving you breaks but ends up giving one anyway. I do have to say that this isn't exactly my favourite lecture because it's less exciting than all the other ones. The course is, basically in my opinion, covering what you already know, but defining it with linguistics terminologies and trees. I am more into it now because we're past the stage of defining what a noun is etc.. You get an unmarked exercise to do at week 4-ish (very easy, if you've been to the lectures and/or did the readings), then a marked assignment due before the end of term, I should get started with that too, actually.... The course is based on two books in my opinion both not the most exciting books, one is by M.Tallerman (who likes Kim and Lee - you'll know what I mean once you've read it) and the other by Kroeger.
Tuesdays / 11am-1pm @ Russell Square
History and Structure of the Korean Language with Dr Yeon. It's within the Korean department, but I use it as my linguistics option. This isn't really the most popular course of SOAS, there are 5?6? people on the course apparantly, but in practice 2 or 3..
1pm - 3pm @ Russell Square
Introduction to Phonology with Monik for the first term No break between the two lectures, but at least it's not at Vernon Square. I had to do a lot of reading for this one, in fact, the first five weeks at SOAS, I spent 90% of my time doing phonology. I think I kind of get it now, it's really interesting, and once you get it, then it's all about finding patterns and stuff. It would have been helpful if the phonlogy lecture from Gen. Ling. was done before the phonology course, but it wasn't, so yeah, just reading..
Wednesdays - Nothing, so I usually don't get up at all, but I should really go into uni and do some more readings.. which I shall try to do from this week.
Thursdays / 1-3pm @ Vernon Square
General Linguistics with Kirsty for the first term This is my favourite lecture of the week, although the last two weeks it has become less exciting. This is the largest class of all, with around 40-50 people? (I may be wrong here) It covers all the broad aspects of linguistics, and for me this was basically going into more depth of what I had read before applying to do Linguistics pre-uni etc. I really like Kirsty's handouts, and the general lecture style personally, and the assignment set on week 5 wasn't too bad. This lecture is based on Contemporary Linguistics by O'Grady et al. but to be honest I haven't exactly read any part of it, because it's so thick and every time I open it, I get really tired (I know, pathetic) but I think I make up for it by reading Crystal's Encyclopedia also on the reading list, and other stuff on the reading list too, but I should read the O'Grady book at some point.
3-4pm or 4-5pm (I think there is one on friday as well, in the morning) @ Vernon Square
Introduction to Grammatical Structure tutorial with Max. Attendance not compulsory, but I go to it anyway. Mainly it's doing exercises based on mondays' lectures, which I forget by this time.. Welsh pops up a lot, along with a bit of Malay..
Friday 10-11am or 3-4pm @ Russell Square
Introduction to Phonlogy tutorial with Shanti. I used to go to the morning one but I'm not properly awake at that time, so I normally go into the afternoon one, with more people in a tiny room. We really need a new room. As with the lectures, I was really confused at the beginning but by week 6, I managed to catch up and understand what was going on. Shanti is realy enthusiastic about it and knows his stuff but we're always short on time, which is a shame.
12-1pm or 1-2pm @ Vernon Square
General Linguistics tutorial with Rados. Basically discussing and doing exercises on the lectures. Personally on the dull side, but it is friday and all.