This post is written in both Chinese and English.
做作业的时候 | Doing assignments
作为萨里大学的硕士研究生，你在硕士学习期间需要完成 8 门课程的学习（每学期 4 门）。每学期 11 周教学周，很有可能你每周都会接触到全部4门课的内容（上课或实验）。时间非常紧张，但你会有充足的时间和老师们交流。老师们都很热心，这点不用担心。
期末考试通常在 1 月和 6 月进行，同时学期中可能还会有随堂小测验。根据老师的安排，在期末考试前有些课程会安排复习课。考试对工科学生和其他专业学生没什么明显区别。我相信你们不会这么做，但是作弊是觉得不允许的。想都不要想。
经过两个学期的学习（大概 9 个月左右），剩下的 3 个月时间就是用来完成毕业论文的。工科学生的毕业论文有点像是毕业设计的报告，而毕业设计是从第一学期末就开始做的。
有问题？尽管说，学校会帮你解决。我们在校园内有诊所（治疗身体）、心理咨询中心（治疗心灵）、就业中心（帮助找工作）、宿舍服务（想住校外的话也可以找他们寻求建议）、国际学生支持团队（特别热心）、学生服务中心（任何问题都可以找他们）等等。你可以从学校获得全方位的支持与帮助。（顺便说一下：我们被 “泰晤士和星期日泰晤士报 2016 年好大学指南” 评为 “学生体验最好的大学”。）
Last week I shared a normal day of myself as a PhD student at Surrey. I do understand that there are far more masters students than PhD students in almost every university in the world, and there may be more people who want to know what it is like to be a masters student at Surrey. Fortunately, I got my MSc degree from Surrey as well, so I can answer the latter question as well. Today I’m gonna share my own experience as a master engineering student at Surrey.
Background information: my masters programme was MSc Communications Networks and Software, which was under the Department of Electronic Engineering (currently known as Electrical and Electronic Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.
Lectures, labs, assignments
As a masters student at Surrey, you are supposed to finish 8 modules during your study: 4 for each semester. There are 11 weeks in each semester, and it is highly likely you will have all the 4 modules (lectures and/or labs) every week. The time schedule is quite tight, but you get plenty of time to communicate with your lecturers. They are always willing to help you, that’s guaranteed.
For labs I don’t want to talk much about this, since different subjects require different facilities, and I am only familiar with what electronic engineering students need. One thing is for sure: the university can provide all the infrastructure you will need for your study. During lab time, there will be one or more demonstrators helping you. (If you are doing communication-related modules, I may be one of your demonstrators as well.) If you do need to use the labs outside normal teaching hours, simply ask your lecturers; some of the labs are always open to students.
After attending lectures and labs, now it’s time for assignments. For engineering students, your assignments may be more than essays; sometimes you need to finish a project individually or as a group, then you will be asked to produce a report or/and a presentation. The projects are usually more like the real tasks you would get in your future career, and they are certainly helpful for developing comprehensive abilities.
As a student, exams are an essential part of your life. I know they could be tough sometimes, but you have to face it.
The final exams usually take place in January and June, while there may be quizzes throughout the semester. Revision lectures may be provided before the final exams, based on the lecturers’ arrangements. There is no significant difference in terms of exams between engineering students and students under other programmes. I know you will not do so, but cheating is strictly prohibited. Don’t ever try to think so.
After two semester’s study (~9 months), the remaining three months are for you to finish your dissertation. The dissertation of an engineering student is somehow like a report for your graduation project, which you should start doing from late semester 1.
It’s very common not to have finished all the objectives in your project by the end of semester 2, but you should finish as soon as you can during the summer since you still need time for writing-up. By the way, please make a detailed time plan in advance and follow it as much as possible, the actual writing-up process always takes much longer than you imagine.
Classmates and social life
Compared to masters students from the Business School, you may not have as many classmates as an engineering student; but there could be dramatic diversity. You will have a lot of opportunities to work with people from different culture and background, and it is quite a unique experience.
Besides interacting with your classmates, there are also a lot of societies in the uni. You can usually find someone with the same nationality, similar interest or something else. In the unlikely situation when you cannot find a suitable society, you can always start a new one! (For instance, many friends and I started a Chinese society called “CSSA”.)
Support from the university
Got any problem? You name it, the uni will help you sort it out. We have a GP practice within the campus to help you with your physical health, a Centre for Wellbeing for your mental health, an Employability and Career Service to help you prepare for future career, an Accommodation Service that can provide help even if you decide to live off campus, multiple chaplains for your religious needs, an International Student Support team who are really helpful, a Student Service Centre for all general enquiries, etc. I am pretty confident to say you can always get comprehensive support from the uni. (By the way we are named “Best University for Student Experience” by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.)
This is a quite long post. To sum up, as a masters engineering student, you will learn solid knowledge while enjoying your life at Surrey. To be honest, I did, and it was also one of the reasons that I decided to stay here for several more years.
If there is anything you are interested in but I haven’t covered, please leave a comment. Hope to see you at Surrey sometime in the future!