Studying at university

You may find studying at university to be very different from college, sixth form or any other previous education. It can be particularly daunting for anyone who has not been in formal education for some time.

There is much more of an emphasis on independent study, time management skills and actively seeking support where needed.

Time management

Managing your time effectively is a vital skill you will need while at university. You will need to juggle your studies along with fitting in a social life, possibly a paid job and mundane activities such as grocery shopping. It is also important to realise that in most cases you will be working on more than one piece of work at a time.

At university there are often large amounts of time that are to be used for independent study. It can be easy to put off a piece of work if the deadline is some while away. Some kind of time plan can be a very useful tool for ensuring that you meet your deadlines.

The Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS) runs a series of workshops during the year to help students throughout their studies.

How you are taught

Our course webpages provide more information about the teaching methods used and how much to expect per week, known as 'contact hours'. Contact hours may very depending on your course and year of study. You will also be required to undertake independent study through reading and making notes to aid understanding; this is sometimes referred to as 'self-directed learning'.

Our What is...? videos on our YouTube channel provide an overview of the teaching methods you might experience on your course.

How you are assessed

Assessment methods vary depending on your prgogramme of study, however there are four types of assessment common across the university. These are: essays, reports, presentations and exams. The Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS) are available for any help you might need in these areas. The Kimberlin Library also holds lots of information on how to reference correctly.


Writing an essay is your opportunity to show what you know about a given subject. You will typically be given a topic and word limit to help focus your writing. A word limit is used to make sure that you are to the point yet thorough with the information provided.

You may already be familiar with writing essays and in many ways writing an essay at university is no different. One area however that students can struggle with is citation. Citation is the referencing of any source of research you refer to in your essay. If you fail to reference or reference incorrectly you may be accused of plagiarism (passing other peoples work off as your own).

Visit the CLaSS website for more guidance and resources on citation and referencing.


A report differs from an essay in that it usually ends with clear recommendations as a result of your findings.

A report is split in to clear sections so that the reader can gain information quickly. These sections are usually numbered and headed, any information that is not vital but in support of the report can be included in an appendix at the end.


You may be asked to give presentations in a variety of situations. You may be asked to present your findings from a research project, a piece of design work or a group project. You will be given a time limit on the presentation and may even be cut off, by the tutor, if you start to over run.


A dissertation is a final year project which takes the form of an extended essay. You will be given ample support from a tutor whilst writing and researching your dissertation.

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