Revealed: Who works hardest

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Survey shows which subjects have the most hours. Are you working harder than your mates?

It’s the age-old debate: who spends the longest working on their degrees?

Now, we have an answer. Architects are the biggest boffins around, spending almost 40 hours a week in lectures and private study.

Following the wannabe-Norman Fosters closely into the library are the vets, who typically study for 36 hours a week.

But who are the biggest slackers? Bumping along at the bottom of the table you’ll find business students.

They spend around 26 hours a week studying to become the next Alan Sugar.


Research by the Higher Education Policy Institute and Which? suggests the average student spends 30 hours per week on his or her degree.

That’s 25% less time than the Quality Assurance Agency (the squares who monitor standards in higher education) assumes a student will spend studying.

They reckon the average student devotes 1,200 hours a year to his or her degree. The report says it’s actually 900 hours.

The study found huge variations in the number of contact hours students can expect with tutors.

Nationally, medics have around 20 hours of tutorials and lectures a week. History students, on the other hand, are looking at just eight hours of contact time.

This might not come as much surprise, but there are also wild variations in contact hours per subject depending an what uni you go to.

A student studying maths can expect to receive anywhere between 13 and 22 hours of scheduled contact time depending on which university he or she attends.


We know we’re supposed to top up the contact hours with private study, but the average student spends just 17 hours a week working alone.

Architecture students spend around 25 hours per week studying privately, while business students take just 14 hours out of their weeks to do their homework.

The research suggests some students think they’re being short-changed.

A third of students said they might have chosen a different degree if they had known what they do now about their courses.

  • Anonymous

    In what world does Education have hours comparable to any other degree? What a load of rubbish.

    • Anonymous

      I am a teacher, and to do my job well, need to work 45 hours per week in the building, and at least 12 hours at home, more at certain times. My son is studying architecture, and works far more hours than the 40 in this survey. It’s not a competition about who works the hardest or longest, just an informative piece for prospective students. Both these subjects are just as intense if you are fortunate enough to be employed !

      • Anonymous

        Who invited their Mum along??

  • Stefan

    Ha, please… 35 hours for medicine? Try 50. 4-6 hours of lectures a day… Then add 4-6 hours of studying. That 48 – 72 hours a week… And I’m not even the one who studied the most -.-

    • Anonymous

      Ha, 32 hours a week for engineering? Ridiculous, I did about 2, and I wasn’t even the one who studied the least.

  • No.

    I do med and we’ve had weeks where we’ve had more than 35 contact hours alone.

  • Anonymous

    I’m studying engineering and we have 7 hours a day scheduled lecture and tutorial time. plus at least another 3-5 hours private study. Seems the survey included students who don’t pass.

  • Anonymous

    At my university the clinical years of medicine include being at the hospital from 8 or 9am till 5pm most days. That’s 40-45 contact hrs. Plus homework on weeknights and often some homework on weekends. I’d say our hrs are slightly underestimated. But it does vary, uni to uni and rotation to rotation.
    I’d also be interested to see what the contact hrs and at home hrs were like for students who overload, or do double degrees. I’d say they suffer the most.

  • leopold laurenz

    I’m an architecture student at ETH Zurich and i worked 42 hours in the past 48 hours alone. In the past 9 days, I worked at least 14 hours a day… and even in a very relaxed week, we don’t work less than 60 hours… so don’t complain^^

  • rukmini

    med student , seriously wondering which part of the world the stats are based on , we have 6-7 hours of lecture , and the private stdyin time should be closer to 45 for any average week , leave alone sems and tests where you might go days without sleeping!!!

  • rukmini

    6-7 hrs daily*

  • Anonymous

    I am a Hungarian pharmacy student. We had 42 lessons per week in this past term, most of them were laboratory practices and seminars we couldn’t skip. Every second Wednesday, we had 12 lessons in a row of which only 3 were lectures (and only 1 was worth skipping). For the labs, we had to write a record and every practice started with a test. And I haven’t talked about the private studying. In the past two weeks, we took 9 tests and we are facing 4-6 exams depending on the results of the tests.
    Honestly, it’s no complaint, just facts. Me and my friends love our faculty, even if it’s hard to imagine having read what I wrote.

    • anonymous

      In vet school we actually have contact hours from 8:30 in the morning till 18:00.. After that, you can spend your complete evening on summarising, revising, researching, preparing for tests and making reports.. I’d say we’re around 45 contact hours a week + around 20 hours of selfstudy a week..

  • Annon

    I haven’t seen any one post about law yet, but have you seen those textbooks? For a normal study load I would have ~ 3 hours per subject (12 hours per week) but massive amounts of reading to do if you want to pass, which would be on average 6-7 hours a day, every day, which means ~56 hours a week, much more than the pathetic ’31’ hours this article thinks law students take… you can spend 31 hours a week on law, that is, if you don’t care about failing.

  • Cetriya

    if you’re going to seperate vets from biologists and architecture and engineering, then you should seperate out the differenent disaplines in art and design. As an illustration student, I go to class from 8:30am till 6:30 about 4 days a week. That leaves me evening time to work on illustrations that take 10+ hrs each to create for 4 to 5 different classes and what ever essays I have to write (not including time spent practicing, self study and constant revisions if the teacher doesn’t accept your proposals). I’m comparable to the graphic design students, but not to most of the fine art students that work a lot less hrs or the animation and film students that almost never sleep (the school now has mandatory curfew because of this). I”m glad that this does show that ‘Art’ as work is not easy and takes time to do. Add also that ‘art’ degrees doesn’t give you a job at the end, you spend a lot of time in promoting your work, making work for competitions on the side, or submitting to shows.

  • J

    Everyone that is studying medicine/veterinary science and ranting about how you actually have more hours, chill out. The graphs and statistics are just an estimate. I guarantee that for every one of you that thinks you have more hours than an architect, there will be an architect who has more hours than you. So stop trying to make it into a big competition, because you aren’t going to win.

    • Tom

      Im an architecture student at oxford brookes and have easily worked 80 hours a week on many ocasions with the avergae being definatly above 50!

  • Stuart

    I do maths and I think our low number here is from being grouped together with the Java students.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a first year medic and only have 14 hours a week contact time so that’s probably bringing the average down!! Mine is a PBL course though so we have to do a lot of outside study

  • Anonymous

    Biology FTW!!!

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