Tag Archives: course

Study Tips for International Students

Revising and studyingThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Daniel Sefton, a writer for Dwell Student Living:

When you choose to make the UK your home throughout your studies, you are stepping into a new culture, you are trying out a new language, and you might even be experiencing new teaching styles. Studying in the UK can be a challenge if you are not used to the way universities and colleges are structured, but there are a few things that you can do to make your studies a bit easier:

Ask Questions

Make sure you ask plenty of questions when you’re in class, especially if English is not your first language. It’s important that you take in the right information, and if you need your tutors to clarify any concepts for you, don’t hesitate to ask. Even if you think that the question might be worth asking, you should still get your tutor to explain it to you in terms that make sense to you.

Asking the right questions will help you to understand topics when you to come to study for your exams. If you don’t understand a topic and don’t ask, you may find that you have to teach yourself the concepts, which may then have an impact on how you manage your revision time.

Study with Friends

Sometimes it is better to study alone, because you can put real thought into the work that you are doing. One negative to working on your own is that when you encounter a difficult concept which you struggle to understand, you have nobody to ask for help. A solution to this problem is to study with friends.

If you revise with other people, they will be able to help you fill any gaps in your knowledge, while you will help them by explaining any concepts that you already understand. Working collaboratively with other people is a great way to quickly develop your understanding of a topic, so it is worth booking out a private study-space in your university or college library and getting together for a study session.

Practice

Practice makes perfect, so once you feel like you fully understand a topic, it will be time to put your knowledge to the test. Make use of the resources that your university or college has on offer, especially past exam papers and example answers from previous assignments. Find out from your tutor how long your examinations will last for, and recreate exam conditions when you test yourself.

Working in this way will get you used to the atmosphere of the exam hall, which means that when the actual test comes around, you will be able to perform to the best of your ability. Once you have tested yourself, take the time to mark your own work, and use this to find any gaps in your knowledge which you can then work on before your actual exam.

Plan Ahead

When you have settled into your course and have a good understanding of the syllabus (the topics you will be learning), start planning how you are going to study throughout the year. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to absorb all of the information that you are being taught. The best way to retain new information is to dedicate an hour or so each evening to revising what you have learnt throughout the day. When you do this, you should put it into your own words, because this will help to improve your understanding of any confusing concepts. This will be crucial closer to exam season, because you will not be attempting to learn new things – it will just be a case of refreshing your memory.

Use Study Apps

If you need extra help with your studies, you can make use of some of the amazing smartphone apps that are available. There is genuinely an app for everything, so if you can pinpoint what it is that you struggle with, you will be able to find an app to help you.

If you have difficulty with taking in information, you can use apps like Soundnote to record your lectures, which will help you with your revision, because you can play the lecture back at a slower pace. You should check with your lecturer first to make sure they are happy to be recorded in this way. If you struggle planning your time, you can use apps like Class Timetable to plan your time effectively. It’s just a case of finding the right app for you.

Hard Work Pays Off

It can be a challenge trying to learn in a new environment, but with careful planning and hard work, you can be capable of exam success in no time!

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

Accommodation Choices for International Students in the UK

This month’s guest blogpost is provided by Amy Hirst, a writer for The Student Housing Company:

Once you have secured your place at university in the UK, it is time to start thinking about your accommodation options. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow our advice, you will find the accommodation you need.

The Property

When you are thinking about the type of accommodation you want to rent, consider the following points: does the accommodation provider offer property management or security? Is there an en-suite bathroom or will the bathroom facilities be shared? Is there a good communal space? Will there be a good mix of students to socialise with?

The Location

Location is a very important thing to consider when choosing your accommodation. Use a map to check that you are within easy walking distance of your lecture rooms. Does Google Maps show that you are within walking distance of your lectures? If this is not the case, it is important to look into methods and cost of transport to the campus. Try to find out about the average cost of a bus fare to the campus. Many transport companies offer seasonal ticket deals for university students.

Rent and Other Costs

It is very important to consider your budget when you study abroad. There are costs that you may not think about initially. For example, if you are not a full-time student you may have to pay some Council Tax. You should also consider the cost of insuring your items abroad, whether your bills are included in your rent, and if you will need to pay for any new furniture.

Your Contract

When you enter into a contract it is legally binding so take care to read it in full. For example, if you sign a joint contract and one tenant drops out, the remaining tenants will often be liable for the rent due. It is important to be aware of these details.

Contact Your Accommodation Provider

Once you have chosen your accommodation, get in touch with your university if you have decided to go into halls of residence. If you have chosen to rent private accommodation, contact your future landlord or letting agent to secure your new place. If you are an international student looking for accommodation in the UK and are unsure about the next step to take, you can browse the nationwide accommodation options from The Student Housing Company.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

Different ways of being taught on your course

Ways of being taughtThis month’s blog post considers some of the different ways you can expect to be taught during your studies in the UK.

Traditional ways of being taught on a university course in the UK include through a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and possibly workshops, depending on your discipline area. Some of these may be unfamiliar to international students, especially if they have been taught in a different way in their home countries. Even a teaching method such as a ‘lecture’ may be delivered differently in different academic cultures, so it is important to know what you should expect as a student coming to study in the UK. For a basic introduction to these four ways of teaching have a look at Ways of being taught on your course first.

Lectures generally last between 30 to 50 minutes and traditionally involve students in listening and note-taking. The lecturer may use visual aids (usually presentation slides) whilst speaking. These, along with a recording of the lecture, may or may not be available afterwards for you to refer to. It is useful to take notes, even if they are available, to add to your understanding. You may find that some of your lectures in the UK are quite interactive. There will usually be an opportunity for one or two questions from the audience at the end but some lecturers also use other polling devices to engage students in the topic – these allow the student audience to participate more actively, by thinking and voting on issues or predicting the outcomes of research mentioned during the lecture itself.

Some lecturers might even ask you to watch a pre-recorded lecture and then use a seminar for discussion of the key points or extension activities to deepen your understanding. Seminars are a typical way of teaching found in most UK universities. Usually groups of up to 20 students discuss an academic paper, a presentation or a topic with their tutor. It is expected that students speak as well as the tutor, and it is an opportunity to develop your critical thinking skills as well as to explore different opinions or perspectives on a topic. Small group tutorials may also serve some of these functions.

A tutorial in many universities involves a one-to-one meeting with your tutor. The meeting might typically focus on your academic progress, feedback for an assignment or negotiation of an assignment or dissertation topic if you are a postgraduate student.
In science and applied science, lab sessions and workshops often take the place of seminars and these may involve following a practical set of instructions or carrying out an experiment.

Lastly, blended learning practices can now be found embedded across UK universities. Although much of your course will probably take place in a face-to-face context, you may also find that part of it is delivered or undertaken online. You will be expected to use a range of technologies, not only to support your independent learning but also possibly to receive some of your teaching. Technology is likely to have an impact at all levels of your study, from contacting your tutor (by email) to even doing part of a taught module online with other students.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

Learning about administrative procedures at your new place of study

Submitting an assignmentThis week’s blog post introduces some of the new administrative procedures that you may need to learn when you arrive at your new place of study.

Many international students are now arriving at UK universities and colleges and waiting expectantly for their course to begin. Learning how the administrative system works in your new place of study is an important aspect of settling down and making a good start on your course. These news procedures which you will need to follow for such things as submitting assignments or organising a meeting with your tutor may be very different from what you have done in your previous place of study.

Universities are increasingly adopting an online submission system for students’ assignments. This may involve uploading an electronic version of your finished assignment online to an area for your particular course by the submission deadline and not taking a physical copy to your tutor’s in-tray. If your institution uses an online submission system like this, you will probably then receive a confirmation email detailing the date and time of your submission. Similarly, your assignment grade and feedback may only be made available to you electronically. Many institutions will require students to confirm online at the time of submitting that they have not plagiarised in their work and institutions automatically use plagiarism detecting software such as Turnitin on all student work.

Because your tutor will be in many places other than their office, if you need to see your tutor it’s not a good idea just to go to their office expecting to see them. The normal practice in most UK institutions is either to sign up for a meeting in advance on an appointment list, often pinned up outside their office, or to email and request an appointment.

Universities and their faculties and departments increasingly use social media as a way of informing their students about what is going on. Subject-related events, subject-specific student group meetings and news are often communicated through blogs or Twitter. It can be useful to set up a Twitter account when you arrive in the UK and find and follow them.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

What are Pre-sessional courses?

Pre-sessional PathwaysThis week’s guest blog post is by Linda Hurley, Assistant Director of Pre-sessional Programmes at the University of Southampton. In it, she addresses international students’ questions about university Pre-sessional courses:

Being an international student on a summer Pre-sessional course in EAP (English for Academic Purposes) is a positive introduction to the academic life and culture at a UK university, and many former Pre-sessional students say how valuable it has been when they move on to their future courses. Courses may vary in length – at the University of Southampton they range from 16 weeks to 6 weeks, depending on students’ entry point (usually reflected in their IELTS grade). There may even be a pre-arrival online component to a Pre-sessional course. Most of the students who participate in Pre-sessional courses are required to do so in order to improve their academic English skills; however, some participants, who have already met their university’s entrance requirements, may choose to do a Pre-sessional course to improve their readiness for their future studies. Each university will have a website outlining their Pre-sessional provision for their own international students.

Pre-sessional courses provide an opportunity for students to work intensively on all their linguistic skills within an academic framework and their university environment. While IELTS is generally the recognised exam taken by most students when applying for entrance to their chosen subject area, it does not prepare students for the demands of academic study. On a Pre-sessional course, students will practise researching, preparing and writing long essays, and using academic sources to support their arguments. They may be required to practise giving presentations based on aspects of their research too. Reading journal articles, attending lectures and participating in seminar discussions are also key components of most university courses so a Pre-sessional course is a very useful ‘dry run’ for the real thing! Students’ progress and achievements are made clear both during and at the end of a Pre-sessional course, and tutors will always want to ensure that students are moving on to their future courses with the skills they need to do well. This means that ‘yes, the learning curve is steep’ and a significant amount of student work is produced during the course, but by the end, students will feel that the rewards and sense of achievement are definitely worth it.

Pre-sessional courses are also a great way to meet and make new friends and are, hopefully, a time to experience some of the best British summer weather! It’s a busy time and an opportunity to really focus on getting ready for your future studies.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

MOOCs – free online courses for English language students

MOOCThis week’s blogpost is in reply to a student who has asked if there are any free online courses to help them improve their English.

Recently, one kind of online course that has generated quite a lot of interest is the MOOC. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are free (open) for anyone to sign up to do and consequently, with the help of wide marketing, they are attracting many thousands of participants (massive) from all over the world. MOOCs are generally short, varying in length from between 4 weeks and 8 weeks. Typical course content includes videos featuring subject experts; links to articles; discussion forum-type activities; threads where you can add a written comment about a topic; test-yourself weekly quizzes. In some cases, if you complete the course you may be able to purchase a completion certificate as evidence of this. MOOCs have educators or online facilitators who guide participants through the course. In the USA, MOOCs are delivered by Coursera and Edx; in the UK the main provider is currently FutureLearn.

Some MOOCs offered on a regular basis through FutureLearn which may be of interest to English language learners are:
Exploring English Language and Culture, a MOOC offered by the British Council. Next course starts on 2nd February 2015.
A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study, a MOOC offered by the University of Reading. Next course starts on 19th January 2015.
Study Skills for International Students, a MOOC offered by the University of East Anglia. Next course starts on 24th November 2014.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized