From Second Year to Third Year

17 / 02 / 20

We all know that third year is when things get serious. This is the first year that reallycounts. But what is the jump from second to third year actually like? 


You may be thankful to say goodbye to three modules a semester and being in lectures for hours on end most days. It does seem like a blessing at first to only be in 4 hours a week for two modules. If I can give you one piece of advice, don’t take this decreased contact time to mean less work is required. The reason we do two modules, instead of three, is to go into much more detail about the law. Last semester I took English Law of Obligations and Intellectual Property. Obligations was structured more similarly to my classes in first and second year with a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar each week. IP, however, did not have any lectures. We had one two-hour seminar every week, so it was really important to do all the reading and work before this.

Second years, you will be soon approaching the time to choose your modules for next year. Choose wisely and remember you will be spending 50% of your semester on each of these. Whether or not you enjoy your modules can make or break your experience in third year. Try to look into your options a bit. I recommend asking current third and fourth years about their thoughts on the modules. 


As well as this decreased contact time, the structure of the courses changes completely. For the first time in your university careers, you will have seminars. Although, like tutorials, there is work to prepare in advance, the similarities end there. Generally, in first and second year tutorials a lecturer or PHD student would take you through the questions. However, in third year the seminars are very much based around group work. You will usually be asked to discuss the questions in pairs or groups and the lecturer will go round and answer any questions. As some modules are only taught through seminars, it is extremely important to do all the required reading beforehand. You essentially teach yourself modules such as these, so if you are up to date on the topics, you are able to clarify any confusing areas before moving on to the next topic the next week. It is important to go to all the seminars and to go as prepared as possible. This time is your chance to really engage with what you are learning about.

Seen Exams

Another big change for some will be the exams. Depending on what modules you choose, you may have seen exams. The exam paper come out nine days before the exam and takes a huge weight off your shoulders. No need to stress about making sure you know enough about every aspect of the module, you don’t need to try and guess what will come up in the exam. You know exactly what to expect and you’re able to prepare accordingly. People take different approaches to this. Some people write out essays and memorise them before going in, others simply do the research and remember the key points and facts. This is important, do your research. As the exams are seen, there is an expectation for you to really know what you are talking about and an opportunity to do well. 

Looking Ahead

This is the year you will be applying for summer vacation schemes. This is a daunting process but practice makes perfect, so apply for as many as you can. Make sure you come along to careers events where trainees from firms will give you tips on the application process (such as our ‘Dickson Minto – Get That Traineeship’ event on Monday 17 February from 12:30PM – 2:30PM in Dalhousie 2G14). I would strongly recommend that first and second years come along to events like these to prepare you for third year. It’s a great way to network with individuals from firms and get your name out there. It will also make the application process much easier.

Third year is a big step up. You will have to put in a lot of work and at times you will find yourself wanting to pull your hair out. But when things make sense, and you see results in your work, it’s so much more rewarding.

Much love,

Carolyn xo