So. Nearly two months of grad school done! This might not be completely news-worthy, but hey. I figured I'd do another post, and maybe share some of the differences between grad school in the US and the UK.
First, it's called post-graduate over here. Post-grad programs are generally divided into two groups: PGT (post-graduate taught) and PGR (post-graduate research) programs. Mine is a post-grad taught program, which doesn't necessarily mean too much this early in the program. I get the impression that the PGR programs tend to be a little longer, but I honestly haven't met anyone yet from a PGR program in my classes.
Class formats are generally the same as in the states - one- or two-hour classes. At least on the post-grad level, most classes meet only one time a week, unlike the multi-day format for classes stateside. This is kinda cool; of course, there is a drawback as the observant among you will have guessed, that drawback being that all the classes are seminar-format classes. They're two-hour classes, most of them combination lecture and discussion.
I have to be honest - I love the seminar format. Now, I was very fortunate, because in my undergrad degree (and my US grad degree from the same school) I primarily had professors who had done a lot of their work in the UK. They then incorporated a lot of UK elements into their US classes. So to an extent, at least, I think I was prepared for some of the seminar class format. I like having longer classes, but only once a week, with then longer times available to study, research, etc.
And there is a LOT of reading and research. I've made myself at home in the University of Glasgow Library (which is beautiful - one of the more modern buildings on campus; it stands out, but in a good way). Because, of course, the single BIGGEST difference between US and UK courses lies in the grading. They call it assessment over here, and for all of my classes it involves no more two graded assignments. That's right - all semester, and it comes down to one or two assignments. For at least one class, it's only one assignment - a 4,000 word essay at the end.
What that format does, with classes only meeting once a week and only one or two graded assignments, is force you to both pay attention closely and work ahead as much as possible. I'll need to start working on the final essays any day now, or risk being in the library 24/7 at the end of the term. But all in all, it's really not a bad deal. You just have to be aware that a lot is riding on a relatively small amount of work, and then really take advantage of the extra time.
So far, so good - I love Glasgow, and Scotland, and school. Which is weird, I know.