Early in your course, it will become apparent why studying for a degree is also called ‘reading’ for a degree. Do not be daunted by long reading lists. Pick a few of the most relevant books and articles for the topic. Use the contents pages and index to ‘target’ your reading, Effective reading depends on understanding the nature of the material you are studying. Generally you can get the ‘gist’ of the text without grasping every single word. With practice you can speed up your reading by increasing your word span to five or six words, and increase your reading rate to several hundred words per minute. With course materials it is almost certain that you will need to read them more than once to understand them.
To gain a quick understanding of what you are reading you might, for example, first scan the text quickly to get a broad overview of what it contains. Then go back to the text and read it again, this time more slowly, picking out the main ideas and making sure that you understand them. Finally you may want to go back to the text to fill in the details. Carefully evaluate the material in the light of what you already know. When taking notes from books and journals, be sure to indicate where you have rephrased material from the sources, and where you have copied out direct quotations. Failure to indicate material as direct quotation is plagiarism, and will result in loss of marks. If you want to know more about study techniques, the following books may be useful:
Finn, Sasha and the Enterprise Unit, University of Sheffield (1993), Successful Study, Sheffield: University of Sheffield Enterprise Unit.
Hector-Taylor, Matt and Bonsall, Marie (1993), Successful Study: A Practical Way to Get a Good Degree, Sheffield: The Hallamshire Press.
Meredeen, Sander (1988), Study for Survival and Success: Guidenotes for College Students, London: Paul Chapman Publishing Limited.
Rowntree, Derek (1998), Learn How to Study, revised 4th edition, London: MacDonald Orbis.
All module outlines include reading lists. You can search reading list of individual module by going to: myresourcelists.shef.ac.uk, which links to the Library location of books on the list.