What is expected of you?

Academic expectations

When you become a student at the University of Southampton you join an academic institution characterised by intellectual curiosity and by vibrant community of learners. Here, you will have the opportunity to explore and engage with your chosen subject(s), to develop new knowledge and skills and to grow a community of friends. Studying at university is different from studying at school or college level. 

As the Southampton learning community welcomes you to university, you will be offered support during your degree course and we will also have expectations of you too. These are set out in the student charter which is a reference point for students and staff setting out our expectations, rights and responsibilities as members of the University community. You should read this document carefully to ensure you are aware of the expectations of you. 

Click to read the Student charter

We have copied below some of the expectations that relate most specifically to academic study expectations and for which this guidance helps explain. One of the biggest differences from studying at school or university is the level of independence expected.

  • Take responsibility for managing your own learning; actively engaging in your studies and research, committing sufficient time to independent study, and participating fully in group work and related learning activities.
  • Attend your induction sessions, participate in timetabled classes and attend meetings with your tutors and academic supervisors.
  • Submit assessed work by stated deadlines and attend all examinations taking advantage of opportunities to gather, reflect on and respond to feedback about your work.
  • Be aware of and understand your responsibilities as a student in relation to the support offered by your Personal Academic Tutor.
  • Ensure that you understand and observe a high standard of academic integrity


Over your time at Southampton, you will increasingly be expected to take responsibility for your own learning. Becoming independent in your learning requires you to develop organisational skills and to keep self-motivated. You can check out the advice in our Academic Skills website and Skills for Studying Online pages for help with organising yourself. To help keep you motivated you can always ask a friend to check up on you to make sure that you are studying! You are also expected to interact with your lecturers in a positive and productive way, to keep in touch with your Personal Academic Tutor and ask for help when you need it. 

Personal Academic Tutor

Your Personal Academic Tutor is allocated to on your arrival at the University and they are normally a member of academic staff in your own or a closely related subject area. Your Personal Academic Tutor will offer one-to-one support and advice throughout your time at the University. They will support you in your studies or with other issues you may have.

Find out more about the role of a Personal Academic Tutor and how you can work best with your tutor.


Interacting with your lecturers can be a nurturing experience and an exciting opportunity, even though it may seem a bit daunting at first. Your lecturers are specialists in their field of study, trained educators and cutting-edge researchers. They are here to guide you in your learning journey and to support your development. 


Attendance & Contribution 

Attendance at tutorials and lectures

There is an expectation that you will be present for all your scheduled lectures and tutorials (whether these are held online or face-to-face on campus). This is the only way to ensure you gain a clear understanding of each topic covered and how they link together. If you are unable to attend a class, the university will guide you on how to notify your tutor(s). 

Contribution in team-based workshops, seminars and tutorials

You will most likely be taught in both large groups (lectures) and small groups (for example tutorials, seminars or laboratory classes). This may be done online, face-to-face or a combination of these. In small group teaching (and some other settings) you are expected to actively contribute by sharing your views, discussing with others and collaborating on group tasks. Sometimes your contribution in this setting will contribute to your final grade. Teaching staff understand that some people can take time to feel comfortable presenting or voicing their opinions to a small group. They will work with you to develop your confidence in sharing viewpoints and engaging in lively discussion.

learning in a group is more fun and more effective for many people and even if you like to learn alone, having friends on your course who you can ask a question is useful, so being involved in learning as a social activity is important for academic success.

Submission of Assignments 

Submission of assignments to deadlines

As part of your course you will undertake a range of assignments. It is important that you submit assignments on time as if you fail to do so you will be subjected to a penalty (see the ‘Late Submissions’ document on the Policies and Procedures page of the Quality Handbook).

It is therefore crucial that you develop your time management skills in order to meet relevant deadlines. You can check out the advice on time management in our Academic Skills pages. You can also use our Assignment planner to help you keep on track.

Writing style for assignments

A certain level of maturity and competency will be expected at university. You will be encouraged to develop these skills during your degree programme and will be provided with good guidance and support.

Academic Standards 

You are expected to understand and practise high academic standards during your course. By the end of this Getting Started course you will have an understanding of plagiarism, referencing, how to search for literature for your assignments and how to communicate appropriately with academic staff and fellow students.

Skills for Study

Skills for Study is an interactive resource which includes a number of modules which you will find useful during your studies at the University of Southampton. One particular module which you should look at once you have registered with the University of Southampton is Getting ready for academic study. The module will give you more in depth information on what to expect, developing your study skills and studying effectively when you start at University.

Note: You will need to login to access the module using your University of Southampton login. You will receive your login (username and password) once you have registered with the University of Southampton.


Now move to the next page Quiz – Academic Expectations

progress graphic - page 2 of 3