Study Techniques

Managing Your Time

To be successful in your studies you will need to manage your time effectively. You need to find the right balance between study and relaxation. Your studying time is partly fixed through regular lectures, tutorials and laboratory periods. You will also have fixed submission dates for your continuously assessed work and fixed dates for examinations. These fixed times form a framework for the whole session within which you need to organise the rest of your time. You should make a note of all the fixed dates in your diary or on a wall planner so that you can plan your tasks for the term or year ahead.

Making a weekly study plan can also help you to use your time effectively. For example, for each week you could make a chart and enter the details for that week: start with the times of lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes and add any other fixed commitments for the week. Then add times for private study, for example, periods when you are going to attempt tutorial questions or assignments. For some assignments you may need to allocate time over several weeks. You should include reasonable amounts of time for eating, sleeping, travelling, exercising and generally relaxing. Allocate some time at the end of each day to review your progress.

Choose the times which you are going to use for private study, tutorials and completion of assignments at the times of the day when you can study most effectively. This is a wholly individual matter, some people find that they work best in a morning, others in the afternoon and still others late into the night.

Your weekly study plan is only a guide and needs to be both flexible (the unexpected invitation out or the need to fit in an interview for a job) and realistic. Make sure you have included time for relaxation.

The University expects students to spend 1200 hours studying for 120 taught credits i.e. 100 hours per 10 credit module. This includes timetabled contract, examination and assessment hours and private study time.

Private study typically involves reading through lecture notes and reading relevant plots of text books and attempting to solve the problems given out in the lectures. It is vital you spend this time evenly throughout the semester (the study weeks provide an opportunity for self study and assignment/examination preparation) then you will identity issues that you don't understand in time to resolve these.

Using your Study Time Effectively

Everyone works and studies in their own way and you will already have developed particular ways of studying. You may find that you need to adapt these ways and to develop new methods. You might even find that you can learn better ways from observing what others do*but remember, what works for somebody else might not work for you.

Effective study requires a comfortable place to work, minimal distraction and accessible books and notes. Be careful about the length of study periods*long sessions are not always advisable, if you are planning for a long session you will need also to plan to have some breaks. Try to set realistic goals for each session, for example completion of a particular set of tutorial problems, reading one chapter of a book. Do not try to cover too much in each session.

A good way of starting a period of private study is to jot down a few notes on what you already know about the topic you are about to study. For example, if you have decided to attempt a particular set of tutorial questions make some notes on the topics the questions cover. This acts as revision and helps you to focus on the questions. At the end of the session add to these notes summaries of any new material you have used.

Library Facilities

There are a number of libraries within the University complex. Your library ticket can be used at any of the sites. Most of the libraries provide study facilities for your use.

Use of the library should play a major role in your course. You will continually be faced with problems, either during laboratories, project work, tutorial classes or revision periods. In these cases, lecture notes may not provide the answer but the library can usually be used to yield a solution.

There is a computer database of books (STAR) which can be accessed by author or title, and terminals are provided in the library, or through the library Website.

Computing Facilities

Information about the Department's computing facilities is found at the following link:

ACSE computing information

In addition, the University Corporate Information and Computing Services (CICS) provides networked computers for undergraduate use, distributed around the campus with associated printing and plotting services.

The nearest facilities to the ACSE Department will be found in the St George's I.T. Centre in the Mappin Building, access is available 23 hours a day. Students must register with CICS to use these facilities who will then supply new users with a pack of information, provide a user-name and allocate disk space. A comprehensive selection of software is available. CICS staff will be available in the St. George's I.T. Centre Monday to Friday to register users and give advice.

Matlab facilities within ACSE

MATLAB is widely used in ACSE. Please follow the link below for information about Matlab and how to use it.

More information about Matlab

Revision and Examinations

The purpose of examinations is to measure how well you know and understand a subject. To pass with good marks your knowledge and understanding of the subject must be extensive and must be well organised in your long term memory. We embed information in our long term memory by a process of constant use and repetition over a period of time. One purpose of problem sheets is to provide you with practice in using techniques so that you establish the technique in your long term memory.

Revision will be your primary means of preparing for your examinations, however, it is not something that can be left until the end of the lecture course. You need to build revision periods into your weekly study plans and as the examination period approaches gradually increase the amount of time you are allocating to this activity. Repeated learning and re-learning of the same material at regular intervals reduces the amount of detail forgotten. You will be better prepared if you have revised the material several times than if you leave all your revision to the night before the examination.

Study Groups

You can do all your studying and revision on your own but there are advantages in forming a "study group". If you are finding something difficult, somebody else in the group may understand and may be able to explain. You can share expensive text books and develop examination techniques.