The first thing you notice when you start classes in DTU is the class size and location. Coming from an Irish university where we are accustomed to over 200 students in a large lecture theatre for at least the first two years of university, the class room settings and school sized classes feel like a return to secondary or high school. In many other education systems you barely know your lecturer’s name and they certainly have no idea who you are. In DTU your lecturer may be your greatest asset in finding a job, choosing your thesis on advising you on special courses. For me, this is the beauty of the Danish education system, the lack of hierarchy and anonymity.
Typically classes here are four hours long. I know this may seem extreme but honestly after experiencing both the US and Irish system, Danish four hour classes are the shortest and most enjoyable classes I have ever attended. Danes operate at a relaxed yet efficient pace and a four hour class is guaranteed to have at least four 10 minute breaks, or two 20 minute breaks. Generally, the first portion of your class is based on lecture material with some discussion with the lecturer. In reality you are guaranteed that the Danes in your class will engage in a discussion mid lecture disputing the lecture material or calling for further clarification. The level of argumentation and perhaps the lack of hierarchy may shock you at first, but most of us quickly adjust and by the end of the term I think the lecturers deserve a head break. The value in this system is that I, amongst others, have learnt not to question authority but to question or challenge knowledge and understand on a deeper level how that knowledge has been obtained. The second portion of the class is spent in your group working on your assigned project or if you wish you and your group can chose to leave and work elsewhere.
Many international students I know are accustomed to end of term written examinations based on theories and learnt knowledge. We may leave with first class honour degrees but we lack true application of the theory and the gap between university and the workplace is felt strongly. In my home country the workplace has called for graduates with applicable skills, who can work as a team and adjust to new environments quickly and that is what you gain with an education in Denmark. The examination system here is not always the fairest of them all but it does allow the examiners to truly test the scope of your knowledge and it equips you with the competencies to function in a professional organisation. For example, your grade is often ascertained based on a project illustrating your application of the knowledge and often an oral exam when you discuss your report and the theory. Unlike in a written exam, oral exams allow examiners to quickly determine your level of knowledge and move up the level of questioning you are capable of dealing with. Of course with this system there is a lack of accountability and your grade may not always feel fair, but the end experience is far more useful than a higher grade in a written exam and the Danish industry have definitely come to understand this when hiring graduates.
What makes your studies unique at DTU is the possibility of proposing or taking part in special courses. These courses can be worth up to 30 ECTs and vary from internships and projects with industry or working on academic projects with world class institutes in DTU. They are a fantastic way to make contacts within industry or for practice in academic writing before your thesis. Others have used these projects as the basis for their thesis by utilising the preliminary results they obtained. In fact, if you can’t find a Masters to suit your needs you can build your own program by taking a variety of classes and special courses.
Whatever your choice of Masters in DTU you are guaranteed a unique, specialised and personal education. You studies are enriched due to the high number of international students and the quality of life you will enjoy for the duration of your studies.
Amy, MSc in Food Technology, Ireland