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Why be a course rep?

Andrew Taylor, Computer Science has been a course rep for the past 2 years. Here’s what he says about the role…

Just do it. You didn’t come to Durham just to tick a box. You came to go the extra mile.

Being a course rep for Computer Science for two years was a tremendous opportunity to make a tangible difference to the academic lives of my peers. Durham’s lecturers are great and instruction is world class, but like at any institution, things don’t go perfect every single time.

So why do we need course reps? Surely we’re now all “independent adults”?
Well, in my time as a course rep, I have managed to resolve year-wide marking issues in assesments, influence the style of lectures to suit my peers and improve Durham’s CS course one small bit for the years to come. So that’s why. Leaders are needed everywhere, and apart from the clear internal course benefits, this will give you a real extrinsic feeling of accomplishment; you become the shepherd of your herd.

How about the time management side of things?
Six hours for the entire year. That’s it. You attend a termly “SSCC” (staff-student consultative committee) meeting with your academic leaders and other department reps to discuss the issues that matter most to you. These can be as trivial as printer issues (you can be selected for the IT Management Committee as a student rep) or far-reaching like the removal of a degree or module from the department’s teaching. Being a stakeholder in the above gives you a real gateway into bringing about the change you want on your course, at minimal time  cost to you.

How does it look on the CV?
Will this benefit me later in life? I saw the CV aspect of things as a side bonus for representing my folks. Indeed, being able to answer the cliché job interview “describe a situation when…” question can be conquered easily in many occasions by bringing up your course rep experience. You learn first hand what it is like dealing with highly qualified academics and industry experts, as well as paying customers (you and your peers). You gain “on-the-job” experience in resolving issues promptly. You greatly improve your soft-skills with communication. These are highly sought-after skills that carry a lot of weight in the interview!

So, should you give it a go?
No, don’t “give it a go”; this requires passion, dedication and love for your course, peers and university – something I’m sure you have. You have a chance to make to make a real difference to something that’s costing you £9,000 a year and will benefit you for the rest of your life. If you’re up for it, don’t think twice – just do it!

Find out more about becoming a Course Rep at


Andrew Taylor

Hi, I’m Andrew, a third year Castle CS student and the undergraduate Faculty Rep for Science. I enjoy my running, cycling, shooting and love some cooking! My academic interests are in telecommunications and distributed computing. Favourite quotation: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” - Henry Ford.
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