Study Techniques


Since you have already successfully completed a first degree, you may feel you need little guidance about how to study at University. You will, however, find the postgraduate experience a rather different one and you should not be surprised if it takes you a little while to settle into a new rhythm of working.

There will be fewer fixed points in your week than there were in your final undergraduate year and consequently much more time that you will need to structure for yourself. You will have reading and thinking to do in preparation for every class and you may plan specific objectives for your individual tutorials with your own tutor. The course descriptions given above also make it clear that you will need to plan the completion of the different tasks for assessment. Some of these, particularly those that involve collecting bibliography or primary sources may prove surprisingly time-consuming and cannot readily be left until the last week before the deadline. Equally, while many of these assessed tasks are designed to help you to lay the groundwork for your dissertation, they only bring you to the point of being able to do the necessary reading. You would be strongly advised to devote a proportion of every week to working on the dissertation itself, otherwise you will find the period from June to the dissertation submission date highly pressurised.

The library resources in Sheffield (combined with intelligent use of the Internet) should be sufficient for you to complete the assessed exercises for the taught modules. Some students will find, however, that they need to consult primary materials that are not held in Sheffield in order to prepare their dissertations. You will need to plan your trips to archives with some care and well in advance; some guidance for this will be offered early in the Research Skills for Historians course, if you choose this optional module, but you should also consult your supervisor. There are no classes during weeks 13-15 of the Autumn Semester, during the Easter vacation and after week 10 of the Spring Semester, so these may be good times to research trips. Do remember to take into account assessment deadlines (particularly in week 14 of the Autumn Semester) and the MA Presentation Day when planning any research.

You should remember that the course is designed for study over the full academic year and its assessment is devised on that basis. Part-time students will face more relaxed pace with more free time over summer in the first year of study, though you may find it useful to use this time to begin working on ideas for your dissertation.