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Jargon Jungle (A)

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A levels:
Duh. A Levels are the exams most students take at the end of school or college (further education) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Usually, students heading for university take three or four A levels, or the equivalent, which include AS Levels taken over two years, Highers in Scotland, the International Baccalaureate, or new qualifications such as vocational A Levels.

Accountancy/Accounting:
Not a professional qualification, just a background course giving prospective accountants the necessary insight into finance, investment, tax, management and business. These courses do not, however, give you a life.

Admissions:
The admissions office of any university or college handles the applications and enrolments. That's the department to ask for when you phone up to talk about getting in.

Alumni:
'Old boys' and 'old girls', but they're not called that in case they don't give the university any money after they've left. Singular: alumnus. Feminine singular: alumna. Feminine plural: alumnae. Neuter ablative plural: go ask a Latin student.

American Studies:
Often dismissed as a doss subject (eg 'you just watch films and listen to old jazz records') this is a multi-disciplinary subject, covering the culture (?), history and current affairs of the US. Usually includes a period spent in the States - a big draw for people who like Oreo cookies, country music and drive-by shootings.

Archaeology:
You might think 3 years risking the wrath of disturbed Egyptian mummies is a cool way to spend a degree course, but archaeology courses are more 'Time Team' than 'Indiana Jones', using a combination of history, science, languages and other disciplines, as well as practical fieldwork.

Architecture:
Architecture requires a combination of technical knowledge of forms and structures (sciencey) with creative and aesthetic talents (arty), as well as history, economics, environmental studies and upsetting Prince Charles.

Art(s):
Arts subjects include pretty much anything creative. You know, painting, drama, music and all that. It often overlaps with humanities.

Athletics Union/Sports Union:
The student organisation that runs student sports clubs and sometimes sports facilities. They're usually hot-beds of sexism, alcohol abuse and hairy chests... and that's just the women.

Awards:
Most students get awards, but unfortunately there's no big Oscars-style ceremony because these awards are basically the new version of what used to be called grants. Students get awards from their local education authority or equivalent to pay towards their university tuition costs.

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Last updated on: 07 April 2009

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