top of page

How Does University Work? A Psychology Student Life Podcast Episode.

How Does University Work? A Psychology Student Life Podcast Episode.

Celebrating the release of a brand-new psychology book focusing on how does university work as well as other psychology student life topics, I wanted to show you an extract of the book to help answer some of your burning questions about university life. If you’re a psychology student thinking about university then this is a great episode for you that help to deepen your knowledge about university life, how university works and a whole bunch of other university questions.

How Does University Work? Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at

How Does University Work? COPYRIGHT CONNOR WHITELEY 2023.

I’m extremely glad that I finally get to address this chapter to psychology student specifically. Since as a psychology student myself this is what my experience is based on and I really wish I had a guide like this when I was going to university. It would have been great to hear another psychology student’s perspective.

So I really hope this is useful for you and it answers at least some of the questions you currently have (and if not, it’s an interesting read anyway!)

How Does University Work?

When I was investigating possible topics for my blog posts, I was surprised to come across lots of students type how does university work? Into google. Now I was surprised because after being in the university bubble for so long, you sort of forget that other people don’t know what it’s like. Therefore, the point of this post is to help you understand university on a larger level and then I might explore the more niche areas and how they work in future posts.

How Does University Work?

Something that’s always fun about writing blog posts is when you sit down to write a topic, it’s only then you start to realise how large a particular topic is, but I’ll break down how university works as best I can.

Undergraduate Degree Structure

For the purposes of this post, I’m completely ignoring the Masters and PhD degrees because these are higher types of degrees and I’m not sure on the ins and outs of them.

However, an undergraduate degree is typically 3 or 4 years long depending on the degree and it typically works in the following ways:

· Each year is called a Stage at university (for some bizarre reason)

· You need to get a score of 40 or above each year to move onto the next stage.

· Your first year doesn’t count towards your degree classification.

You can think of your classification as your overall grade and the first year is both great and bad that it doesn’t count as part of your overall classification. It’s great because everyone is learning how university works and some students have never done the degree topic before, so they’re learning the topic from scratch.

It’s bad because the first year is a step down from your 16-18 education (whatever it is in your country) so it’s easier. Meaning students tend to do very well that year, so it’s annoying that those high grades don’t count towards your final classification.

Additionally, I need to mention that whilst getting a score of 40 each year is a pass, it isn’t a good pass and it isn’t what you need to get into Masters and other higher education programmes. Consequently, what I’m saying is, is don’t aim for a pass mark, you might want to try aiming higher.

Some other points are:

A university year is broken up into three terms.

In the UK, the Autumn Term runs from late September to Mid December, Spring Terms runs from January to April and the Summer term runs from May to June.

Then a good thing about these terms is there are month long breaks in between each of them, so it gives you a chance to have a break, catch up on learning or do other things in-between.

Going Deeper

As I write this I really feel like I’m talking too generally but the thing about this blog post is unlike the others, this is really aimed at students who are thinking of going to university and are wondering how it all works. Therefore, of course, it would feel to me as if I’m talking too generally.

But now we’re going to dive into the weeds and smaller details of how university works:

Your degree year is broken up into modules (think of these as units or topics)

Each module is assessed

You can have optional modules.

Now modules are actually surprisingly interesting to talk about because in the UK, each academic (university) year, you need to have 120 credits and believe me you don’t need to worry or even think about credits at all.

In all honesty, I’m not sure on the point of them.

In addition, each module is given a number of credits it is worth, and they tend to be 15 credits for a module that runs for 1 term (either in the Autumn or Spring term), or 30 credits for a module that runs both terms.

For example, in my first year of university, I had three modules that ran for both terms, giving me 90 credits, and I had a compulsory 15 credit module. Then I had 15 credits leftover.

Leading me onto another aspect of modules, some of your modules will be compulsory and this depends on your degree. For instance, if your degree topic has to be accredited (approved) by a professional body like psychology does, then you will probably find you have a lot of compulsory modules so the degree can be accredited.

Other modules will be optional.

Therefore, in my first year, I have had 30 credits “leftover” meaning I could take one 15 credit module that was available to me.

Personally, I love optional (or wild as my university calls them) modules because they allow you to explore areas beyond your degree. Such as, I took a forensic psychology (which isn’t profiling!) module because I was interested in that area.

However, you don’t have to take optional modules from your degree topic. Since for my final year I am seriously considering taking a module in something akin to Entertainment Law as I know that will be useful for me in the future. But as you can tell Entertainment Law is very different from psychology.

Yet that’s the point I’m trying to make, university allows you to customise your degree to various extents so it’s useful to you and you get to have fun.


As I write this I have a massive smile on my face because I know for a fact I have only scratched the surface of how does university work. There are a lot more nuanced pieces, like assignments, grades and everything, but I hope this blog post has allowed you to understand university a little more, and hopefully you have learnt something.

Personally, I do love university and it has been great for me, so whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s social psychology podcast episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

How Does University Work?. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at

Have a great day.

University Psychology Student Life Reference

Whiteley, C. (2023) How Does University Work? CGD Publishing. England.

I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page.

However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you.

Which I am going to say right now. Thank you!

Click for a one-time bit of support.

15 views0 comments


bottom of page