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university of tampere: faculty of social sciences: studies: study practices:
Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Social Sciences

Ways to complete courses


Lectures are a common method of study at the University of Tampere. They are public, which means that anyone may attend. Lecture courses normally include 2-4 hours of lectures per week. Usually there is no registration required for the lectures. In order to get credits for the lecture course, students must usually either take an examination based on the lectures or write a lecture diary.


A seminar consists of a small group of students who usually meet once a week for one or two terms. Seminars normally require active participation in class, in the form of writing an essay and/or giving a presentation and participating in discussions. Size of the group is usually limited, and therefore students need to register for seminars.


In many courses, the student is required to write an essay on a topic defined by the lecturer in order to receive credits. An essay is a scientific text, and its aim is to survey literature and other material and present the student’s own views on a given topic. Thus, it is not a summary of the source literature, nor is it a student's personal opinion only. An essay consists of an introduction, main content, conclusion and a list of references. It is important to notice that the main content should already contain references to the source material. The text should clearly identify which parts are the student's own ideas and which are direct or indirect quotations of the source material. The topic of an essay must always be clearly defined. The length and layout of an essay are defined by the subject and lecturer in question. Sometimes it is also possible to complete the whole course by writing an essay on a given topic, but this needs to be negotiated with the teacher in charge of the course.

For more extensive guidance on various types of academic texts, please see the Instructions for Writing Research Papers (pdf)

Lecture diaries

A lecture diary is a written paper on the contents of the lectures. However, it is not only a review of the lectures. A lecture diary is a way of reflecting on what the student has learned through the lectures, and its aim is to summarize, comment on and analyse the content of the lectures. The length and other details of the lecture diary are determined by the lecturer in question, normally during the first lecture.

Instructions for writing a lecture diary
Translated and edited by Pekka Rantanen from Finnish instructions at the former Department of Social Research, University of Tampere

Lecture diary is not just writing down what you have heard during the lecture or set of lectures. It means more that you think about what you have heard and written down during the lecture. The main idea in writing a lecture diary after the lecture is to reflect on what you have heard, what thoughts and insights the lecture provided about its subject matter and what questions and ideas the lecture has given to you. It is always good to relate the lecture to the knowledge you have learned elsewhere during your previous studies.

The lecture diary can be organized in several ways. You can write a short account on every separate lecture where you highlight the most important information and key insights of the lecture. You can also take as a starting point the topics of lectures, or problems that were presented, or write about the different views that were presented during the lectures. Your lecture diary presents a condensed and well-organized account of your notes that you wrote down during the lecture. It is good if you are able write down your own reasoned insights and critique about the lecture's subject matter.

A lecture diary may be based on one lecture only, but it is often a case that a student is asked to write a longer lecture diary that is based on a complete course. Please ask the course coordinator for further information about the format and length of the lecture diary. The coordinator of a course usually provides necessary technical information about the lecture diary during the first session of the course.

Book examinations

Some courses may be completed by independent reading of literature included in the course module requirements, followed by an exam on these set books. There are two ways to take the book exams: either on general examination days or as electronic exams. The book exam questions are usually essay questions, one or two on each book the student is taking.

Exams on general examination days
The student has to sign up for the examination 7 days beforehand in Internet through NettiOpsu or by filling in a sign-up envelope and returning it to the subject in question. Book examinations are taken on specific examination days usually arranged once a month. The time to complete the test is four hours. Book examinations may also be taken during the summer time (June-August). If the course module requirements include literature in Finnish, feel free to contact the teacher in charge of the course module to find out if Finnish books could be replaced. Note, that special arrangements must be announced upon enrolment.

Book examination rules

  • Before the exam, wait outside the lecture hall. The supervisor of the exam (not necessarily the teacher of your course) will come outside the lecture hall and call students by their name. When you hear your name, take the question papers or envelope from the supervisor and go into the lecture hall. Paper for your answers will be available at the ends of the rows, you can take as many as you think you will need.
  • Find a seat in the lecture hall. Do not sit next to anyone if there is room in the lecture hall but leave an empty seat in between. Leave your bag and coat on the floor at the end of the row. Take with you to your seat only the things you need to write the exam, for instance a pen or a pencil and an eraser. Water bottles are also allowed.
  • Do not open the question envelope or look at your questions before the supervisor gives permission to do so. You need to wait until everyone is seated and when everyone is ready, the supervisor will give permission to start.
  • During the exam, please do not talk and do not leave the lecture room without permission. If you need anything, go to the supervisors of the exam to ask for help.
  • You will have four hours to complete your exam. The exact time when you must finish will be given when the exam starts. You will be allowed to leave the exam at the earliest 20 minutes after the start of the exam. After the first 20 minutes, you can leave anytime, as soon as you have finished the exam.
  • When you are finished, return your answers as well as the question papers to the supervisor. You need to return the question paper even if you have not answered any of the questions. When you hand in your papers, you need to show the supervisor of the exam some ID, such as your UTA student ID or passport. Remember to write your name on all of your answer papers!

Electronic exams
More and more exams are offered in the electronic exam service, where students register for the exam on the day and time of their choice, then take the exam on a computer. There are rooms specifically reserved for electronic exams. You may not take anything with you into the examination room. Before entering the examination room please leave your outdoor clothing and bag on the pegs and in the lockers. In an electronic exam you need no writing materials or paper and you need not prove your identity. All you need is your passcard, which will gain you admission to the examination room, where there is recorded video surveillance. Always use your passcard even if you enter the room when other examinees open the door. The information left from your passcard will be collated with your work in the examination and the video recording to confirm your identity.
When you make your reservation you will be given the number of the machine on which you are to take your examination. The number of the computer will be on the upper edge of the monitor. Don't worry if you cannot remember the number, if you try to log in on the wrong machine it will tell you the number of the machine on which you are to take your exam.
A list of available exams can be found on the exam service pages.

For more information, visit the electronic exam service.

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Last update: 19.1.2016 16.08 Muokkaa

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