What Is a University Timetable?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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A university timetable is a schedule of classes and accompanying examinations for a university student. Students typically build their own schedules by signing up for the classes they need to meet graduation requirements and satisfy interests. Scheduling on college campuses requires balancing the need for different rooms and ensuring that students can access the classes they must take to stay on track for graduation. In an oversubscribed program, it may not be possible for students to graduate in the traditional four year period because competition for slots can be fierce.

At universities, scheduling can be more fluid than at educational institutions on lower levels. Students do not attend school for a set number of hours every day and can arrange their schedules to suit. This may include evening or morning classes, entire days off campus, and other scheduling decisions. Working students may need to consider work schedules with a university timetable, unless they have employers who are willing to accommodate a timetable when they make an employee schedule.


Lecture halls are often interchangeable, and teachers typically rotate around campus instead of staying fixed in one location. This increases flexibility for the university timetable, as does the availability of multiple rooms with the same amenities, like labs for students to work on practical science and lecture rooms with basic audiovisual equipment that works for many humanities classes. The university may need to consider recommended class sequences and should avoid scheduling classes that might conflict, as this can be frustrating for students.

Typically the university timetable slots classes into predetermined class periods of set lengths, rather than creating overlapping schedules. The schedule may also build in breaks between classes to give students with classes right after each other a chance to get between university buildings. Since students may not all eat lunch together, classes can run through lunch periods, and students may need to eat early or late on those days. This differs from scheduling at locations like high schools, where students have a more rigid daily schedule with a set break for lunch, although in a large school students may eat in shifts.

Another consideration with a university timetable is final examination periods. Some universities simply direct instructors to use the last class period for a final exam. Others may schedule finals separately. In this case, the university usually assigns a different final exam time slot to each scheduled class period. All students taking classes from 1:00 to 2:30 in the afternoon on Mondays, for example, might have an 8:00 AM final exam on Saturday in a specified location for exam administration.



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