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Academic glossary

Common words and phrases that are good to know as a student

What’s the difference between a department and a faculty? What is Ladok? Below are definitions for a selection of terms that you might come across while studying at Lund University (Swedish terms in brackets).

Wooden benches with white numbers on them in the Main University Building

AF building (AF-Borgen) is the home of the Academic Society and a building especially for students, located at Sandgatan 2. The building is a meeting place for many different activities and student organisations. The premises are used for everything from plays and parties to lectures and meetings.

Academic quarter (akademisk kvart) is a concept of time used in the academic world. It means that events start quarter of an hour after the time announced. The phenomenon came about in the days when it was unusual for students to have clocks, and the bells of the Cathedral were the public’s timekeeper. The quarter of an hour gave the students enough time to get to their lectures after hearing the bells. After 18:00, a double quarter is applied (i.e. half an hour) because students are expected to have to change into evening dress. If the academic quarter is not applied, this is indicated with the Swedish word 'prick' (‘sharp’) or a full stop. After 18:00, the expression is 'prick prick'. The system is still applied today, and is important to remember for both lectures and parties!

Alumnus/alumna is what you become when you have finished your studies at Lund University. Alumni are former students of an institution. The word is Latin and means pupil.

Public defence of a thesis (disputation) is the occasion on which a doctoral student defends his or her PhD thesis.

Reader/Associate professor (docent) is a title held by people who hold a PhD and have gained some additional academic qualifications and experience.

Doctoral students (doktorand) are those studying for a PhD/doctorate (240 credits). Sometimes also known as research students. After completing a PhD, they gain the title ‘Doctor’.

The doctoral conferment ceremony (doktorspromotion) is the major academic ceremony in Lund and takes place every year at the end of May or beginning of June. At the ceremony, degrees are conferred on the doctoral students who have completed their PhD and defended their thesis during the past year.

A faculty (fakultet) is a part of the University under which departments are organised. Each faculty is home to departments with related disciplines, for example the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Postdoctoral research fellows (forskarassistent) hold a fixed-term post primarily intended to give new researchers who have recently completed their PhDs an opportunity to gain further research experience.

Departments (institutioner) are the primary workplace of students, researchers, teaching staff and others. The departments conduct education and research in one or several closely related subjects, for example the Department of Sociology.

A Bachelor’s degree (kandidat) comprises 180 credits and takes three years of full-time study to complete.

Courses (kurs) can either be free-standing or form part of a degree programme. You can choose to study one or more free-standing courses and in this way put together your own programme that can lead to a degree.

Ladok is an administrative system in which information about students and their studies at Lund University is recorded. It holds information such as how many credits a student has taken. Registration and results are entered into Ladok by the departments.

A one-year Master’s degree (magister) can be taken after completion of a Bachelor’s degree. The programme lasts one year (60 credits).

A two-year Master’s degree (master) can be taken after completion of a Bachelor’s degree. The programme lasts two years (120 credits).

Nations are student associations found in the Swedish university cities of Lund and Uppsala. The first nations were established in the 17th century for groups of students who came from the same region. They are mainly run by students working on a voluntary basis. The nations serve simple meals, rent out accommodation, organise extra-curricular activities and much more. There are 13 nations in Lund: Blekingska, Göteborgs, Hallands, Helsingkrona, Kalmar, Kristianstad, Lunds, Malmö, Smålands, Sydskånska, Wermlands, Västgöta and Östgöta.

Novisch comes from the Latin novicium, meaning ‘newcomer’. In this context, it means a new student at Lund University. The term comes from the monastic system but has also been used in academia in northern Germany.

Freshers’ activities (nollning) are organised to welcome new students. They often comprise fun challenges that are carried out in groups. Most students’ unions in Lund organise freshers’ activities as a way for students to get to know one another.

Peer review (opponering) is when students present and defend their degree projects at a seminar. Each student usually reads and poses questions about a fellow student’s project. The projects are graded by the examiner after the seminar.

Professor is the highest academic post at the University. They work with teaching, research and supervision of doctoral students. After retirement, they are known as 'professor emeritus'. Professors, senior lecturers and lectures can also be referred to with the prefix 'adjunct'. This means that they have their main job outside the University. Adjunct posts are for a fixed term.

A head of department (prefekt) is a professor or other member of academic staff who leads the activities of the department under the departmental board.

The Vice-Chancellor (rektor) leads the activities of the University and is its top representative. The Vice-Chancellor is appointed for a term of six years by the Government, on the recommendation of the University Board. The University’s management team comprises the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Head of Administration and President and Vice-President of Lund University Students’ Unions.

The last day of April (Siste april) is the major celebration of spring in Lund (and Uppsala). In the rest of Sweden it is better known as Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton). For Lund students, the day often starts with a champagne breakfast and continues with competitions and games at the nations. Many students gather in Stadsparken in Lund for a picnic and all-day party. The following day, May Day, the celebrations continue with, among other things, a performance by the Lund University Male Voice Choir on the steps of Universitetshuset.

A student account is used to access many of the University's electronic services. Using the login details that you receive when you are registered as a student, you can for example log in to your email account, view your study results in Ladok via the Student Portal, etc.

Exams (tentamen) are the written or oral tests that students take at the end of a course or course component. If you fail an exam, you can re-sit it later.

A lecturer (universitetsadjunkt) is a member of teaching staff at the University who usually does not hold a PhD.

A senior lecturer (universitetslektor) is a member of teaching staff with a PhD (or equivalent) and training in teaching. They usually work with both teaching and research.

Degree projects (examensarbete), sometimes referred to as a dissertation or thesis, are usually written by students in their final year of a Bachelor’s degree and at the end of a Master’s degree. A degree project is an academic essay that you write on your own or with a fellow student. Once you have completed the project, you will usually defend it at a seminar. Your project will be graded after the seminar.