On 3/31/06, Tristan Alexander McLeay <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Incidentally, Georgia Tech (my alma mater) uses four-digit course
> > numbers.  The first digit is the year, the second two identify the
> > course series uniquely within the major,
> This one slightly confuses me. "Course" I'm aware means what I call
> "subject" or "unit" in the US, and I thought that "major"
> approximately corresponded to a blend of what I'd call a "degree", a
> "course" and a "major", tho now I'm not so sure.

Sorry, my mistake.  I should have said "department", not "major".

A "degree" is the certification that you have completed a given course
of study at the university.   You can be in a "degree program", but in
general we don't talk about "degree" other than to refer to the final
certification - either the state of being certified or the physical
piece of paper serving as the certificate.

Your "major" is your field of study, in which you ultimately get your
degree.  What I should have said above is "department", since people
in non-CS majors would still sometimes take non-CS classes, and there
are departments which don't have degree programs at all.  For
instance, you can take philosophy classes at Georgia Tech, but they
don't offer a philosophy degree.  (Unless you consider all Ph.D's to
be philosophy degrees, I guess. :))

Time at the university is broken up into discrete quanta called either
"quarters", "trimesters", or "semesters" depending on how many there
are in a year.  (When I was in school, the University System of
Georgia, of which Georgia Tech is a part, used quarters; now they use
semesters.)   During each such quantum you take a certain number of
"courses".  A "course" is essentially a lecture series on a given
topic that lasts for an entire quantum meeting at a set weekly
schedule - usually at the same hour either two, three, or five times a
week.  A list of courses constitutes your schedule for the quantum,
and the course is the object that gets the unique designation that
started this thread.

A "course" is often  informally called a "class", but when used
technically, a "class" refers to an individual lecture, not the entire

In order to receive your degree you must take a certain set of
courses.  There are some courses that everyone must take, regardless
of major; there are some courses that everyone in a given major must
take; and there are some courses that come in sets from which each
student may choose.   Each course is worth a certain number of "credit
hours" toward your degree (in general, one "credit hour" means one
hour of lecture time per week, or three hours of laboratory time per
week), and those requirements which aren't specific in terms of course
name specify how many hours you must take.  Sometimes "credit hours"
are called "credits" for short, and sometimes "hours"; this seems to
be a geographic or institutional variation. At Tech we called them
"hours" and never "credits".

Each course is offered by a particular department, and has that
department's abbreviation as the first part of its name.  Thus, all
math courses are MATH xxxx,All Computer Science courses are CS xxxx,
Electrical Engineering courses are EE xxxx, Philosophy courses are PST
xxxx ("philosophy of science and technology".  Wouldn't want to give
the impression we were a liberal arts school!).  The four-digit number
is only unique within a given department.  As I said, the first number
is the year in which the student is expected to take the course (this
is not mandatory, though, and not all students will actually follow
that schedule), and the next two uniquely identify the topic.  The
final digit  is usually 0 or 1, but incremented  for the second and
subsequent courses in a related series, which usually include numbers
in the title as well.  For instance, when I was there, all science and
engineering students had to take PHYS 2121 (Introduction to Physics
I), PHYS 2122 (Introduction to Physics II),a nd PHYS 2123
(Introduction to Physics III).  You can tell by the fact that the
numbers are in the 2000s that students were expected to take these
courses during their sophomore year.  The Introduction to Programming
for CS majors was CS 1410 and CS 1411 when I took those courses; by
the time I graduated, the catalog had changed and new students were
taking 1400 and 1401 instead.

The person leading a class, usually but not always the same person for
the entire course, is most generally called the "instructor".    This
may be a professfor, but not necessarily, as Professor is a specific
title.  What you call "tutes" is I think what we called "TA's" -
Teaching Assistants: graduate students majoring in a given department
who help the professors out by teaching some courses.

Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>