Glossary for new students

A pencil on a writing pad

Starting somewhere new can be hard, especially when you’re introduced to new words, terms and phrases that other people (we mean staff at the uni!) have been using for years. We’ve put together a glossary to help you navigate your way through some tricky terms until you become a pro at uni-speak.

Choose your letter

A - D


Academic: A teacher, lecturer or scholar in the University.

Academic induction: The period before teaching starts that acts as an introduction for new students to your course, school and the University. Find more information on your induction. 

Academic skills: These are the skills you use to learn, complete assessments and understand material in your course. You can make sure you’re ready by taking a look at the info on our ‘Get ready to learn’ webpage

Academic year: The period of the year in which teaching is taking place, divided up into three trimesters. Many undergraduate students study in Trimesters 1 and 2 only, but other students will study in different patterns.

askUS: askUS are your one-stop shop for student enquiries and support. If you’re not quite sure where to start and need help with anything from registration to paying for university, or using different facilities on campus to life after graduation – askUS are here to support, on whatever level you need.


Blackboard (or Virtual Learning Environment): Blackboard is an important Virtual Learning Environment used by the University of Salford for the digital aspects of courses of study. It is vital that students familiarise themselves with this web-based platform in order to find out everything for their programme. This is where you can upload assignments, access course documents and resources, as well as communicate with staff and students. Access Blackboard here

E - H


e-Learning: An online guide, which usually includes video content to help you learn a particular skill.

I - L


Learning pathway: A course available on LinkedIn Learning to help you learn a particular skill. See more about LinkedIn Learning on our Library webpage.

Lecture / tutorial / seminar:

  • A lecture is an oral presentation intended to teach you about a particular subject on the course.
  • A tutorial is where you meet an academic either for a one-to-one session or as a small group, usually taking place in a smaller room than a lecture or a seminar.
  • A seminar is a mixture between a lecture and a tutorial. You often need to prepare for seminars before attending. These will be led by an academic and include anywhere up to 40 students (sometimes a few more on popular courses). Although this may differ from course to course.

M - O


Mathscope: Is a support unit for students who may experience difficulties with mathematics in whatever subject you are studying. Find out more on the Mathscope website.

Microsite: An area of the Student Hub dedicated to your school’s latest news, events and opportunities:

Module: Each course is divided into a set of units of study. These units are modules.

P - S


Personal tutor (or Academic Progress Review tutor): A personal tutor is an academic member of staff who will act as a guiding support in a student’s academic progress and university experience. Not every student has a personal tutor. Some students have Academic Progress Review tutors.

PMC (or Personal Mitigating Circumstances): This is a process to apply to change the deadline of an assignment if there were circumstances out of your control that meant you couldn’t complete it in time. Note: you should always try to submit your work by the deadline and only use a PMC when absolutely needed. Find out more on our dedicated Personal Mitigating Circumstances page.

Programme (or programme of study): This is your course – e.g. Film Production, Zoology, Adult Nursing.


RAPs (or Reasonable Adjustment Plans): RAPs are what we can help put in place to ensure you have fair and equal access to your education. You’ll meet with a Disability Adviser to discuss what barriers may be present in your course. We’ll explore support strategies that may help you to access teaching, learning, assessments, and other aspects such as placements or field trips. The RAP will detail reasonable adjustments and any difficulties you may have relating to your studies. It will be distributed to select university staff so that your course will be made more accessible to you, and it will include advice for both yourself and university staff.


School: Courses are all organised into different schools that look after similar subject matter areas. Our schools are:

  • School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology
  • Salford Business School
  • School of Health and Society
  • School of Science, Engineering and Environment

SPA (or Student Progression Administrator): A staff member in your school who helps students with everything from support in difficult personal times to staying on track with progressing through their course. Student Progression Administrators can provide pastoral support, monitor attendance and engagement, support students through procedures such as Fitness to Study and also refer and signpost students to wider university teams. 

StartSmart: An online platform for new students that helps you ‘start smart’ at uni, with a focus on all aspects of your university life. It covers content such as:

  • Settling in
  • What we expect from you (i.e. behaviour, academic integrity, working with us to raise concerns)
  • What you can expect from us (i.e. support, campus life, services, safety on campus)
  • How to manage your time and balance study with social activities
  • Employability and career support

Student Hub: The Student Hub is an internal site that hosts key information for students and links to all the systems you need for everyday uni life. You can access the Student Hub as soon as you have completed registration.

Student ID (or roll number): Your student ID is a unique number assigned to you. You will use it to access some systems. It is presented as @00123456.

T - W


Timetable – personal timetable: Your personal timetable will show you everything you should attend this year as part of your studies, though you may have some pre-recorded content to view on Blackboard. See more on our Timetable Guidance page.

Timetable – programme timetable, also known as course timetable: Your programme timetable shows all the teaching scheduled for the entire course, which means you’ll see all groups for each module on the course timetable. See more on our Timetable Guidance page.

Trimester: Trimesters describe how the academic year is divided. Each trimester is approximately 12 weeks long.


Welcome: Welcome is a period of time before your first trimester starts, including the period of events that introduce you to the University and student life. You may have also heard this referred to as ‘Welcome Week’ or ‘Freshers’. Find Welcome events listed on StartSmart.

Wordscope: A writing workshop to help you improve and develop your academic writing skills. Find out more about Wordscope.