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New Masters Students

Welcome to Sheffield and we hope that you find this interactive study skills resource useful as you settle into your course. Academic success on your course involves a wide range of skills which you will need to develop over the coming months. You will have already developed many academic skills as an undergraduate and may be wondering what will be expected of you at Masters level.

 Along with the subject knowledge that you will gain, you will be advancing and further refining your existing academic skills as your studies progress. This resource will give you a head start, helping you to transition to Masters level study at the University of Sheffield. It will enable you to get the most out of yourself when undertaking the learning activities and assessments on your course.

The learning objectives of this resource are as follows:

  • Develop the skills and confidence to make a positive start on your course
  • Reflect on your personal strengths, gaps and challenges
  • Set skills-related goals for the academic year and work towards them
  • Apply your academic skills to learning and assessment on your course

      


How to Use this Course

Resources are broken down into sections below. Each section contains a set of resources and activities relevant to the suggested stage of your course:

  • Core resources are those that will be relevant for everyone and should be completed
  • Recommended resources are those that should be completed if relevant
  • Optional resources are those that may be of interest

  Please use this course flexibly to dip in and out of the resources as appropriate, to help develop the skills you will need for your learning and assessments. Some resources will be useful as a refresher, while other areas may be new to you. If you wish to record your progress on the course, you can work towards the Academic Skills Certificate to gain recognition for your ongoing skills development.

Pre-arrival/intro week

Welcome to the start of your course! The first days and weeks are likely to involve an exciting mix of new experiences: meeting tutors and other students (either in-person or virtually); finding out about your course; learning about the University and the city; settling in and getting all of the logistics sorted out. In short, it can be an overwhelming and confusing time. Explore the following resources to find out more about what to expect from your course and how to get the most out of your own independent study.

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Resource

Core/Recommended/Optional

Description

Time Commitment

LOGOworkshoprecording

What to Expect from Your Course

Core

Workshop Recording

36 mins

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University Jargon glossary

Recommended

Online Resource

N/A

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Independent Study

Recommended

Interactive Digital Workshop

50 mins

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Sheffield chat

Optional

Other Service

N/A

If you will be encountering maths or stats as part of your course, get in touch with the MASH team to find out about their diagnostic tests. These are designed to help you understand what areas you might like to refresh your knowledge of. They can also be used to start a conversation with the MASH team about the support that’s on offer, including 1-1 sessions, group workshops and online resources.

Top Tips from our Tutor Team:

All of our resources at 301 are developed collaboratively with our experienced team of postgraduate tutors.

Watch this short video to hear their top tips for getting started on your course.

      

Survey

However you are feeling about your course, you are not alone! Have a go at answering the following questions and submit the form to record your responses (a copy will be emailed to you). You will then be able to see how other students have responded to these questions.

Please note: your responses will be anonymous.

Weeks 1-4

Now that you have been introduced to Sheffield and your course, we have selected some resources that will give you the tools to study effectively. It is perfectly normal to still feel a little overwhelmed as you adjust to this new chapter in your life. Good study skills will help ease the transition and give you a strong start academically.

Depending on your course, some study skills will be more applicable than others. The great thing about University learning, even at Masters’ level, is that the experience is unique for each student.

For some students, their Masters’ year will mark the first experience of academic writing, with projects being less structured and more focussed on independent study. For others, it might require working in teams to complete a project. Maybe you want to sharpen up your reading, enabling you to find vital information more quickly. Your project might require statistical techniques, which can be daunting if you haven’t studied mathematics since school. As well as study skills resources, you can get mathematics and statistics help, ranging from overcoming anxieties to understanding specific techniques integral to your project.

You might be feeling unsure as to where to start. The table below has a list of resources which are useful for all Masters’ courses, and some tailored towards specific courses. You may already be familiar with some concepts and therefore choose to concentrate on other skills. Similarly, you might be unsure as to which ones are the most important to you. The 301 Skills Audit (also below) is useful to diagnose specific areas for your study skills development.

The step up to Masters level, whether you’re coming into it fresh from undergraduate level or whether you’re coming back into HE after a while, can feel large, but rest assured that these four weeks are a perfect time to develop good habits.

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Resource

Core/Recommended/Optional

Description

Time Commitment

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Academic writing

Core

Interactive Digital Workshop

30 mins

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Reading and Note Taking Techniques

Core

Interactive Digital Workshop

20 mins

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Speed reading

Recommended

Workshop Recording

20 mins

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Focused reading

Recommended

Workshop Recording

30 mins

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Note taking

Recommended

Workshop Recording

35 mins

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Managing your time and avoiding distractions

Recommended

Workshop Recording

30 mins

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Maths and Statistics online resources

Optional

Maths Online Resources

Statistics Online Resources

N/A

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Maths anxiety

Optional

Interactive Digital Workshop

30 mins

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Group working: online and face to face

Optional

Online Group Work guidance
Online Resources

General Group Work and Collaboration resources
Online Resources

30 mins

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Introduction to the University Library

Optional

Online Resources

30 mins

Skills Audit 

A skills audit is a way to gain an overview of your existing strengths and identify skills gaps for development.

It can be a helpful starting point to set priorities and goals to work on and reflect back on your progress over time.

Take a skills audit here.

Skills Audit Icon

Weeks 5-8

Now that your studies are really underway, the autumn semester may feel intense. Challenges of different shapes and sizes are likely to present themselves. You are likely to encounter your first deadlines and receive your first feedback on your academic work.

Courses with low contact time may require a lot of self-motivation and discipline, whereas full diaries can feel draining and relentless. It is important to balance university studies with plenty of ‘down time’. Taking breaks for exercise, socialising and relaxation will help you study effectively. Hopefully with time and practice, you will find your rhythm.

Below are some recommended study skills resources to complement your first semester, as you start to work on credit-bearing assessment. You are likely to be familiar with the concepts covered below, but you may want to refresh your knowledge, particularly if you have had a break from studying or have been used to the academic conventions of a different country.

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Resource

Core/Recommended/Optional

Description

Time Commitment

LOGOinteractiveresource

Critical reading and writing

Core

Interactive Digital Workshop

30 mins

LOGOonlineresource

Essay structure and planning

Recommended

Online Resources

30 mins

LOGOworkshoprecording

Developing an academic argument

Recommended

Workshop Recording

30 mins

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Paraphrasing and using academic sources

Recommended

Workshop Recording

45 mins

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Presentation skills

Recommended

Workshop Recording

35 mins

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Maths and Statistics online resources

Optional

Maths Online Resources

Statistics Online Resources

N/A

LOGOsignpost

Mental Wellbeing

Optional

Other Service

N/A

Survey

Please share your experiences so far. Have a go at answering the following questions and submit the form to record your responses (a copy will be emailed to you). You will then be able to see how other students have responded to these questions.

(Please note: your responses will be anonymous.)

Weeks 9-12

You are likely to be entering a busy period in the semester where you may have upcoming deadlines for assignments and the possibility of January exams on the horizon. 301 has a range of support and guidance available to support you in your assessments, whatever form they may take.

At this stage it would be useful to refresh your awareness of the guidance provided by your department regarding the structure and format of your assessments. This will help you to prepare most effectively and place you in a strong position to identify areas where you would like to develop your skills and the 301 resources that may help you to achieve this.

You may be encountering different forms of assessment for the first time. Given the current limits imposed by Covid-19 there are likely to be impacts on traditional assessment methods, with a shift towards written assessment, open-book exams and other forms of online assessment. We have therefore developed our assessment resources to help you get the most out of yourself across a range of different assessment types.

These final weeks of the semester may be a busy period for you when you are managing a number of assessments and deadlines. It may therefore be a good time to revisit the resources on time management and managing and avoiding distractions that you may have accessed during the first few weeks of your course.

Below is a range of recommended study skills resources that you may find useful when preparing for and undertaking your assessments. You are likely to be familiar with some of the concepts covered below, but you may want to refresh your knowledge.

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Resource

Core/Recommended/Optional

Description

Time Commitment

LOGOonlineresource

Preparing for online assessments

Core

Online resources

30 mins

LOGOonlineresourceLOGOworkshoprecording

Exam revision

Core

Online resources & Workshop Recording

45 mins

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Exam technique

Optional

Online resources & Workshop Recording

60 mins

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Proofreading

Recommended

Online resources

30 mins

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Time management

Recommended

Online resources

30 mins

Evaluation Survey

As you reach the end of semester one, please complete our evaluation survey to share your experiences of the semester one transitions resources with us, helping us to develop the programme for the future.

(Please note: your responses will be anonymous.)

Next Steps

The start of the spring semester marks a significant milestone. You are likely to have now submitted and received feedback on your first masters-level work. It is a good time to reflect on your studies: what has gone well? What have been your biggest challenges? Which academic skills should you focus on developing?

Feedback on your semester 1 work can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement. One of the best ways to learn is by hearing others’ reflections and thoughts on our own understanding and since feedback is simply any kind of response to the work you do you get feedback all the time in many different forms.

To assist you in reflecting on your feedback and your progress to date, we would recommend that you make use of the following resources:

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Resource

Core/Recommended/Optional

Description

Time Commitment

LOGOworkshoprecordingLOGOonlineresource

Putting your feedback into practise

Recommended

Workshop Recording & Online Resources

30 mins

LOGOworkshoprecording

Reflecting on your academic progress

Recommended

Workshop Recording

30 mins


Dissertation resources and support

The spring semester may also involve a dissertation project. 301 has a range of Dissertation resources that you may find useful as you move through the second semester of your course:

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Resource

Core/Recommended/Optional

Description

Time Commitment

LOGOonlineresourceLOGOworkshoprecording

Dissertations

Recommended

Online Resources & Workshop Recordings:

2 hours

LOGOonlineresource

Statistics online resources

Optional

Online Resources

N/A

LOGOonlineresource

Library Information and Digital Literacy Tutorials

Recommended

Online Resources

N/A


Circle of Learning

Having worked through these resources, you will probably have begun to identify a circle of development that occurs as your skills progress. Once you learn and develop new skills, you will use them in everyday life (not just within academia), reflect upon them and then build on them further. No matter what age you are, you never stop developing/honing in on the skills you have and reflecting on your work and practice. The following may help to consolidate and gain recognition for this developmental process:

Skills Audit

You hopefully took a skills audit at the beginning of the semester, most likely at pre-arrival/intro week. It would be a good idea to consider retaking the audit now that the semester is finished. It can be extremely valuable to review and reflect back on your progress over time, while identifying priorities and goals to work on in the future. Hopefully, it will give you the right momentum to set you up for the next semester.

Skills Audit Screenshot

Academic Skills Certificate Logo

Academic Skills Certificate

If you want to gain recognition for developing your skills and reflecting on your experience (which you will be doing following this course) you can work towards the Academic Skills Certificate. It acknowledges not only your commitment to enhancing your academic skills but also your employability skills and personal development. Simply put, if you are already working towards it why not get proper recognition for all of your hard work! It is also important to celebrate their achievements (e.g. planning a nice activity for yourself).

Evaluation Survey

This marks the end of this programme. Congratulations on making it to the end! We hope that you have found it useful and we would very much value any comments or feedback (see it is used frequently in all aspects of life!) you may have. Please complete our evaluation survey to share your experiences of this resource with us, helping us to develop the programme for the future.

Please note: your responses will be anonymous.


Further information

Please explore the tabs below for further information on these key aspects of your learning experience:

MySkills Portfolio

Level Up Your Academic Skills focuses on the key academic skills that will support you in your studies, however, during your time at the University of Sheffield you will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and attributes through your course, your work experience and extracurricular activities. You can reflect on and record these using mySkills, an innovative new way for you to assess, record, build and reflect on your own skills profile.

Find out more about mySkills here

This short video introduces MySkills and highlights how you may want to use it to build a portfolio of skills development and experience to use for future employment opportunities.

Online learning

Although most of your course will involve face-to-face activities such as lectures, seminars, lab classes and practicals, you are likely to experience some online elements to your course as well. Online learning allows you to access your course materials remotely and in a flexible way, developing your ability to learn independently. However, it may also be a new and unfamiliar experience that requires new skills and study strategies. These resources provide a starting point for understanding the practicalities and challenges of online learning:

Study Skills Online: Online Learning

Below are some of our suggestions for online tools that can help you to organise yourself, manage your time, and block out digital distractions for online learning. For further suggestions, see this guide to using digital learning tools.

Useful Outside Resources Description
Calendarpedia
Calendarpedia allows you to download templates, print off and display at your workstation and develop an overview of deadlines for coursework.
Trello Trello helps with organising and creating a to-do list by creating decks of cards for tasks, adding sub-tasks to set deadlines and noting what actions are done.
Evernote It syncs notes across devices, organizes folders, searches text, adds tags to notes and allows you to collaborate with others.
Website Blockers Apps or software you can install on your phone and/or computer to block out the internet, apps and games for a certain amount of time as needed. They allow you to streamline your attention to the work that matters/needs to be focused on.
Remember the Milk Free tool that is compatible with every device and it allows you to sync all your devices for easier time management. The app can help you manage your tasks easily and remind you of them - wherever you are. You can share tasks and lists with others (great for teams)
Focus Keeper This app is based on the principle of the Pomodoro Technique and can help deal with procrastination for people who feel overwhelmed by tasks.
Academic Skills for Wellbeing

Making the transition to a new level of study can be a challenging experience. It may involve moving to a completely new environment and it may involve working with a greater level of independence. Whilst this can be exciting and present lots of new opportunities, it can also be daunting and take some getting used to. The resources below explore the connection between your study skills and your wellbeing, and highlight the wellbeing support services on offer at the university:

Study Skills Online: Academic Skills for Wellbeing

Below are some other services that you might find helpful if you need any further support or advice:

Student Wellbeing Service

The Student Wellbeing Service offers single session (40-minute) appointment with the Wellbeing Advisor in your faculty.

Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS)

Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS) is a single point of contact for students at all levels to access psychological support.

University Health Service

You can speak to your GP at the University’s Health Service, (or the local GP practice where you are registered).

Sheffield Nightline and The Samaritans

You can also speak anonymously and confidentially for advice and support at any time to Sheffield Nightline, or The Samaritans.

If you are in crisis: SSiD

In the event of an emergency or if you are in crisis, please visit the SSiD Emergency Contacts pages.

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Academic Skills Certificate