Having been here for a while, I feel that I can give an opinion on the differences in the way that academic study is conducted here as compared to back home.
I’ve been in computer labs mainly, as is the way with modern technical courses. Though I have also been to a more traditional laboratory session involving simple material testing.
Back home, the material covered in computer labs seems to be a similar standard. However in Sweden, there seems to be more emphasis on peer assessment. I’m not sure how I feel about this, and it seems to be a new thing for others coming from outside Sweden.
I’ve already completed a group project in the Aircraft Design, and have another in my Materials course. The Aircraft Design course also featured a peer assessment element, and then a self assessment part at the end of the project.
Back in Southampton, we did have peer assessment as well, indeed this made up a big part of the awarding of marks to the students. However, this was within the group, rather than here in Sweden where the peer assessment was between groups. I’m not saying that one or other system is better, however it is apparent that the two systems serve two different purposes:
Within the group, the assessment serves to ensure a fairer distribution of workload, because it helps determine the distribution of marks within the group. Between groups serves more as a form of feedback.
I think trying to generalise lectures by University is misleading, since every University has good and bad lecturers. That said, I think that the quality of teaching at both Universities is extremely high.
There are different approaches, however, and Sweden does seem a little more relaxed about academics. Two out of the four courses I’ve taken here do not have final exams. This is quite alien to me, since I have never in my entire academic career had such a course (maybe I did once, but I can’t remember exactly). I find this quite refreshing, as they instead rely on more realistic teamwork and computer work which requires just as high understanding of the course, without the added requirement of memorising the content for an exam.
I haven’t always enjoyed my lectures here in Sweden, but I have a feeling that that is more to do with the fact that I have to get out of bed for an 0800 lecture and then my not be able to go home until past 2100, which I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get over… especially while it is so dark!
I don’t really feel that you can make an accurate comparison between the two Universities. Both have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. I can say with certainty that I enjoy both of the academic establishments that I attend, and know for a fact that I will sorely miss this one when I leave for Britain in January.