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IELTS Vocabulary Words: University Classes and Learning

You’ll find a lot of university vocabulary words on the IELTS. This is especially true on the Academic IELTS. (Although university words also sometimes come up on the IELTS General Training exam.) In my last post, we looked at IELTS vocabulary words for university places and services. In this post, we’ll look at IELTS vocabulary related to university coursework and study activities.


This is one of the most common words on the IELTS. This may seem like a very simple vocabulary word. But many IELTS test-takers get confused. It’s easy to forget that this word can have two meanings. A “course” can be a single class that a student enrolls in, such as a one-semester history course. However, on the IELTS, a course can sometimes also refer to an entire degree. A bachelor’s degree can be called a four-year course, and a master’s or doctorate may be described as a postgraduate course.

Note that in North American English, a course is almost always just one class. But of course, the IELTS is a U.K.-based exam. Test-takers who are less familiar with British English should be careful when they see this vocabulary word on the IELTS.


A “module” is a section of a larger set of learning activities. On the IELTS, module usually refers to a unit within an individual semester course. A module will always have a specific focus. A general psychology class might have one module on developmental psychology, another module on abnormal psychology, and so on.


A “workshop” is a special group activity. In a workshop, students complete a special project or develop a special skill. A workshop can be part of a semester course. However, on the IELTS, workshop usually refers to a learning activity that is not part of a regular university class. Instead, workshop will often refer to a learning activity hosted by a counselling centre or an academic conference.


On the IELTS, a “tutorial” refers to a single between a teacher and one or more students. A tutorial could be a single lesson on the use of symbolism in a famous novel. Or a tutorial could teach students  on how to use a certain computer program. You get the idea. A tutorial could be one session in a semester course, a one-on-one meeting with a tutor, or a learning activity that is directed by a student club or university support centre.

Here again, we see an IELTS vocabulary word that is different in British and North American English. In American contexts, “tutorial” is more likely to mean an instructional video or booklet.


Like “course,” sit is a very simple word with an unexpected meaning. When the IELTS talks about university learning, to sit is to complete a course or exam. If someone fails a course or exam, the IELTS might say that they need to “resit” the course or exam.

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