A short summary (usually around 250 words) of a research paper, journal article or dissertation, that includes an overview of the research aims, methods, participants, key findings and conclusions. The abstract should give a concise and accurate description of the key features of a research project, while aiming to capture the reader's attention.

Academic Argument

An academic argument is your stance or view on a topic. This should be evidence based with sources to support your argument. All academic arguments should start with a claim with both sides supporting and opposing your claim considered in a balanced way, ending with a conclusion as to the strength of your claim and the predictions/recommendations that can be made. Find out more here.

Academic Skills/Study Skills

Academic skills are the transferable skills that underpin your learning on your course and which support you to be a confident, independent, reflective and critical learner. This encompasses a broad range of skills including, academic writing, critical thinking, note taking, reading, presentation skills, and time management, amongst others. These skills can be learned and applied across disciplinary boundaries. You will be able to transfer the academic skills that are developed throughout your studies into your future career, academic skills being closely aligned with the development of a broad range of graduate attributes. You can view all our study skills resources here.

Academic Style

Academic writing uses a more formal register of language, which means avoiding colloquial or casual expressions, avoiding contractions and abbreviated words and limiting your use of the first person 'I' form.

Academic Sources

Academic sources are published works that draw on evidence-based research. They may include single-authored books (monographs), multi-authored books (edited volumes), journal articles and online publications.

Academic Well-being

Having a good balance to your study skills to feel in control of your studies and on top of your workload, helping you to be confident and happy as a student. Find out more here.

Academic Writing

Academic writing is a community practice that has evolved over time as a way to share new ideas and information. Although academic writing can often seem overly complex and difficult to engage with, it is based on common principles, structures and models that support the sharing of new ideas within a discipline. Above all, good academic writing should aim to be as clear and accessible as possible, given the necessary complexity of information that is being dealt with. The ultimate goal is to inform, rather than to impress. Find out more about academic writing here.


"There are two key parts of any analysis in academic writing:
1. Break a complex idea/process/ concept /method into its component parts, in order to focus on the detail of the whole.
2. Consider how these parts then fit back together - which is more important, are there two or more aspects that form an interesting relationship or connection.
For more on this, read our definitions of common terms used in essay questions and assessment criteria."

Academic Skills Certificate (ASC)

The 301 Academic Skills Certificate provides an opportunity for you to gain recognition for developing your skills and reflecting on this experience. You can find out more about the Academic Skills Certificate here.


The process of checking and marking students' academic work. Depending on the course, modes of assessment may include examinations, essays, reports, projects or combinations of these.


A piece of work set by your tutors as part of your course of study. Assignments can take a number of different forms, perhaps most commonly a piece of writing such as an essay or report but can also be in other formats such as presentations and videos amongst others. Ensure that you read the information provided by your tutors to understand the format and assessment criteria for each assignment you complete



The British Conference of Undergraduate Research, an annual conference where Undergraduate students can present their research to their peers in the form of presentations, posters and performance.


Blackboard is the online home for all of the materials and information for your modules and academic course. You can log in to view all of the resources related to teaching and assessment on your course from the student homepage.

Blackboard Ally

Allows you to download files from Blackboard in different formats to suit individual learners. These formats include tagged PDFs, HTML, ePub, Braille, and Audio. Just click the alternative formats button to select the version that you want.

Blackboard Collaborate

A virtual classroom where lectures, seminars and workshops can be hosted live. Sessions can be conducted using audio, video, an interactive whiteboard, presentation sharing, screen sharing, polling, breakout rooms and session recording. Blackboard Collaborate works best in a web browser, and is compatible with PC’s, Mac’s, tablets and smartphones.

Blended Learning

A combination of face-to-face and online learning.

Breakout Rooms

In a Blackboard Collaborate session sometimes your tutor might split you into smaller groups to complete a task, these are called breakout rooms. Here is a handy guide to get the most out of breakout rooms in Blackboard Collaborate.


Case Study

A case study is a systematic form of research that investigates a phenomenon, group, person or situation from a clearly-defined context or timeframe. For an introduction to case study research, or to read examples from a range of subject areas, explore the SAGE Research Methods database from the Library.


A citation is the information you give the reader in your writing to let them know that your material came from another source. In APA referencing, it is the information in brackets that you inserts after a paraphrase or quotation.

Credit-bearing Assessment

Learning activities that you undertake as part of your course which carry academic credit, for example, an essay set within a module that contributes to your overall grade for that module


Regular work that is set as part of your course

Critical Reading

Engaging critically with everything that you read is an important aspect of academic practice. Actively looking for bias, gaps, weakenesses and limitations in published work will allow you to evaluate the relative strengths of sources and use them to inform your own stance.

Critical Thinking

This term covers a range of things across different subjects; but, in essence, it means a willingness to ask questions. "Why has this experiment turned out the way it has?" "How might the design of this product be improved?" "What influenced this author's opinion?" Find out more here.

Critical Writing

By writing critically you are demonstrating your willingness to question existing thinking and to build your own interpretation on a sound platform of evidence. Rather than simply reporting on past ideas and research, you will need to identify their relative strengths and how and why they have influenced your thinking.


DDSS Disability and Dyslexia Support Service. Can be found at:
Deadline The date and time by which a piece of coursework must be submitted.

A subject-related research project, usually several thousand words in length, completed during the final year of study. Find out more about dissertations here.



English Language Teaching Centre. Can be found at


An essay is usually a short piece of writing on a specific topic. It usually reflect the author's personal views.


A timed formal assessment to test your knowledge about a modules content. See our guidance on exams here.



Feedback is a process of giving suggestions used by teachers, tutors, supervisors or even peers aimed at improving performance. Feedback is usually given on assignments and it should be constructive and timely. Find out how to make the most of feedback here.

Field Work

Field work is the process of observing and collecting data about people, cultures, and natural environments. Field work is conducted in the wild of our everyday surroundings rather than in the semi-controlled environments of a lab or classroom. (National Geographic)

Formative Assessment

A piece of work that you will submit for grading and/or feedback that does not count towards your overall grade. The purpose of formative work is to allow you to practise and learn from feedback in preparation for credit-bearing assessments.

Formative Feedback

Feedback provided formally or informally by a tutor or peet on a draft or interim piece of work


Group Work

A piece of work where you work with your peers towards a specific outcome. Within this you will need to adopt roles and set rules within the group, share the workload and agree deadlines, and learn how to deal with a range of different individuals and difficult situations. Find out more here.



The Higher Education Achievement Report is your university transcript for UG students, it gives you official evidence of all your university learning and experience - extra-curricular achievements included.


Independent Study

Independent study is the learning that you undertake outside of your scheduled classes that might include reading, planning, revision, research and writing. Independent study doesn’t always mean studying alone - you may choose to work with peers to increase your motivation. See our tips and techniques for studying independently here.

Information and Digital Literacy

Information and digital literacy (IDL) enables engaged learning. It blends information literacies with digital capabilities and enables learners to discover and absorb information in a critically engaged manner, innovate in active pursuits of creative scholarship, demonstrate integrity by acknowledging the work of others and make a contribution for others to share. Find out more by visiting the Library website.

Information Commons (IC)

The IC is one of the University's Library sites. It has 1,300 learning spaces, extensive technology support and a high-demand collection of 120,000 volumes.

Interactive Digital Workshop

301 Digital workshops are short interactive courses that provide an overview of an area of academic skills.Each course should take around ten to fifteen minutes to complete and contains short activities to help with your learning.


Jargon Buster

Check out the SSiD Jargon Buster for more wider used university terms and their definitions



The University’s primary location for video and audio content. Students can view a wide range of pre-existing media as well as create their own to submit with Blackboard.
You can view the 301 Academic Skills resources:

here for Study Skills Support


here for Maths and Statistics Help


Lab Report

A lab report describes the methods, analysis and conclusions of an experiment. There should be a clear hypothesis, and the conclusions should be evident from the results presented.

Lab work

This covers everything from preparing any equipment to be used in an experiment, to performing the experiment and also collecting and analysing results once the experiment is complete.

Learning Outcomes

What you should be able to know/understand/do when you successfully complete the module.

Lecture Capture

Most of your scheduled lectures will be recorded using Encore, the University of Sheffield lecture capture tool. Using the lecture capture service to revisit content from lectures is a valuable way to reinforce your learning and prepare for exams and other assessments. Take a look at our guidance for using lecture capture effectively. 

Level Up Your Skills

Interactive study skills resource package personalised by year of study. Get started here!

Literature review

A piece of academic writing which critically evaluates the current literature on a specific topic. Most assignments require a literature review to as part of the background but this can also be the main methodology used in the assignment.



Maths and Statistics Help, offering workshops, 1:1 tutorials, drop-ins and online resources.


Maths is very broadly defined by the study of numbers, shapes and space. By following laws and logic, maths can be used to find relationships and patterns.

Maths Anxiety

A sense of anxiety and panic that is specifically triggered by numbers and maths. Our online maths anxiety interactive course is a good place to start tackling your maths anxiety.


The method used in research to test a hypothesis, from collection of data to analysis. Methodology can be quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both, your choice of method should be explained, described, justified and evaluated in your write up.

Mind Mapping A visual learning technique to aid memory, help identify relationships and enhance problem solving ability. Find out more here.
Mixed Methods

Mixed methods research uses both qualitative and quantitative data in combination to draw rich informed conclusions about findings.


Note Taking

Taking good notes is a way to save yourself time and effort in the longer term. Your notes will help to make sure you have all the information close at hand when you really need it later on. Active note-taking will also help you to understand, recall and represent ideas, concepts and information in a range of different ways, which can help with recall and synthesis of material. It is important to remember that different people find different note-making strategies work best for them, so it is important to experiment and develop a systematic approach that works for you. Find out more here.

Numerical Reasoning

Numerical reasoning involves interpreting data, usually in the form of tables and graphs, to draw conclusions. You don't need to have high levels of maths ability to perform well in numerical reasoning, as it is more a test of your analytical skills.


Online Assessments

Current restrictions on face-to-face teaching mean that you are likely to be adjusting to new ways of working and studying. In many cases this has an impact on more traditional assessment methods, with a shift towards written assessment, open-book exams and other forms of digital assessment. You can find more guidance on online assessment here.

Online Resource 301's online resources include information about different techniques you can use to worksheets, planners and activities that you can use in your own time to help support your skill development.
Open book

An open-book exam provides an opportunity for you to make use of supporting materials such as lecture notes, books and other resources. As you can access these additional resources during the exam, these forms of assessment test how you demonstrate higher-order thinking; applying, analysing, evaluating and creating rather than testing your ability to recall or remember specific information.



Paraphrasing is a way to integrate sources into your own writing by putting an idea or concept taken from somewhere else into your own words. Paraphrasing is not just about altering a word or two here and there, but it is a way to show your understanding of a source by expressing it in your own way. Don't forget to include a citation to show where you have taken the idea from.

Peer Learning


The presentation of another person’s ideas or research as one’s own. This includes the copying of materials, collusion in the writing of lab reports or essays, and failure to cite sources adequately. Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence by the University of Sheffield.

Poster Presentation Posters are a visual way to present your work, are are great for presenting data and information in a clear and accessible way to allow audiences to get a quick overview of a complex research project.
Presentation Skills Presentation skills aren't just about the actual presentation but also everything that comes before, from planning to preparation. You can learn strategies and techniques to help you make the most out of presentations in academic settings, from managing your time and content to engaging your audience and how to answer questions. See our tips and techniques for presenting here.
Procrastination The act of putting off tasks that need to be done. Find out more here.

The process of checking text for errors and mistakes. It commonly concentrates on aspects of writing such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation; but more in-depth proof-reading might also pick out questions of style, clarity, and structure. In much academic work, you will also need to check the presentation of numbers, referencing and the overall formatting of the work. Find out how to proofread here.



Qualitative research uses non-numerical information that may include material compiled by the researcher or collected from others through questionnaires, surveys, interviews and so on. Qualitative research allows for rich analysis, but the use of qualitative data is always shaped by methodological or philosophical assumptions and subject to limitations of scale, scope and interpretation.


Quantitative research uses numerical data that may include measurements, counts, percentages and so on that allow for analysis using a range of statistical methods.


Reading Skills

A range of different reading strategies and techniques to improve your reading speed, the quality of your reading and your approach to reading. Techniques include; speed reading, focused reading, selective reading and reading in another language. Find out more here.

Reading Week

Some courses may have a designated reading week where you will have few or no timetabled activities. This time can then be spent on various activities related to your studies, or example, catching up on your reading for your course, working on assignments, or preparing for other assessments


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system of assessing the quality of research in UK universitites.

Referencing & citation

This is how we acknowledge the use of others' work in our own work:


Looking back on experiences and learning from them is sometimes called reflection. This can help you to recognise what has worked well in the past and what you might need to work on. Reflective writing may sometimes be included as a form of assessment on your course. Find out more here.

Research Skills

Research skills cover a broad range of topics from designing and conducting research to writing up your findings, presenting data and publishing your work.


Skills Audit

The 301 Skills Audit will help you to identify your strengths and priorities for further development by responding to a series of short statements. The Skills Audit should take no more than five minutes to complete and it will generate a personalised action plan for you. Take the Skills Audit here.

SMART Goals SMART Goals are a great way of creating simple structure action plans by following the following:
SPECIFIC: Make your goal as simple and specific as possible.
MEASURABLE: How will you know that you have achieved the goal? What are the
anticipated outputs?
ACHIEVABLE: What makes your goal realistic? How will you meet it?
RELEVANT: How does the goal fit in with your longer-term plans? Does it meet the
marking criteria and requirements of the course?
TIMESCALE: What is your end deadline? What are the interim deadlines?

The umbrella term `Specific Learning Difficulties´ (SpLD) is used to cover a wide variety of difficulties including, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Dysgraphia, and Dyspraxia . Because many of the effects of different SpLDs are similar or overlap, it is common for individuals to be diagnosed with more than one, or to simply be diagnosed as `having specific learning difficulties´. SpLDs vary widely from individual to individual, and therefore so do support needs. More informaiton is available from the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service

Statistics Statistics is a field of study concerned with the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. It is used in many disciplines such as psychology, physical and social sciences, business and manufacturing.
Study Skills Study skills are the skills that you will need to get the most out of your learning on your course.
Submission Deadline The date and time by which a piece of coursework must be submitted.
Summative Assessment A summative assessment is work that counts towards your overall grade. You will receive a grade and/or feedback on your work to allow you to understand how and why you have been awarded a particular grade.
Summative Feedback Feedback provided alongside a grade, typically at the end of a module or section of your course

Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience, a six week funded research project for undergraduates in their penultimate year of study to work on a real research project with an academic.



TEF stands for Teaching Excellence Framework, which is a ranking system introduced by the Government to help students determine where to study. It provides information about a University's undergraduate teaching provision and student outcomes. Universities are rated gold, silver or bronze.


Usually submitted as evidence for research during a Masters' degree or PhD, a thesis is a substantial document which describes the background, processes and conclusions of a project, along with any discussion relating to the field of research.

Time Management

Time management is perhaps the single most important and challenging skill to develop as a student. During your time at university you will need to balance your study, with other commitments such as work, hobbies and social events. This means planning your time and using it effectively is crucial to success. Developing techniques around motivation, beating procrastination, planning and prioritisation can help you to keep on track with your work and manage deadlines effectively. Find out more here.


A small class of one or only a few students, in which a member of academic staff (typically a tutor) focuses on individuals’ work.


Undergraduate Research Research carried out by a student at undergraduate level as part of their course or as an extra curricular activity such as SURE. Visit the undergraduate research hub.
Unseen Examination An examination where the student has no sight of the questions/paper in advance of the examination starting

The academic skills workshops are open to all students regardless of your year of study. Attending the workshops can help you improve your study skills and develop your academic technique. Most workshops contain a mixture of tutor presentation and small group activities where you'll have a chance to chat to other students from different disciplines and year groups. You can book our Workshops here.

Workshop Recording

Video recordings of our study skills workshops available to watch online at any time via the 301 Kaltura channel.



The platform used for creating interactive digital workshops and activities. You can find the 301 Digital Workshops here. Including topics such as: Independent Study, Academic Writing and Maths Anxiety

Find more general university terms defined in the SSiD jargon buster