AFTER ATAR – Average Contact Hours

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This article was written by Jeffrey Pullin, a current VCE/IB Tutor. Jeffrey is currently accepting students, so if you’re interested in his services, you can see his profile here

Contact hours is a term that often gets bandied about in discussions of university particularly when comparing different courses. But what actually are ‘contact hours’?

The amount of contact hours of a course is the number of hours per week that the university would expect you to be at university participating in an activity where a member of university staff is present. This could be anything from a lecture or tutorial, to laboratory classes or workshop sessions.

Crucially, not all contact hours are compulsory, though some definitely are.  In particular, lectures can usually be watched afterwards on a recording. Tutorials and labs however, will normally have some kind of attendance or participation hurdle meaning you do have to show up to avoid being automatically failed. It is also important to note that the contact hours of a course is not the same as total time you will need to put into university in a week. This could be anything from 1.5 to 2 or even 3 times the amount of contact hours depending on the course, point of semester and how well you want to do.

Currently I’m in my second year of a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University, majoring in Statistics. Because of the subjects I am doing I have no mandatory contact hours but I make sure to always go to all my tutorials every week as well as all the lectures I can fit around my job and other commitments. If I decided to not attend anything (as I am perfectly allowed to) I would surely fail my exams!

Clearly your pathway will not be the same as mine and your contact hours will probably be quite different, with a huge variety of contact hours requirements and structures existing across different courses and universities. Arts degrees for example will often have significantly less contact hours than physical science degrees, which have large lab components. The exact contact hours and whether or not they are compulsory will depend on your choice of institution and degree. Information about this is usually displayed quite prominently on course pages.

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AFTER ATAR – Average Contact Hours

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