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New to the University

A series of guides for students new to university.

You can still get help with your studies

You may be able to get extra help with your English levels if you attend the university as a postgraduate student..You can also get face to face advice from the academic skills team in the form of a tutorial. There is lots of information relating to academic skills on the academic hub. The library staff provide tutorials to help students with their research and referencing skills.

To book a one to one tutorial with an academic skills tutor, email: 

To look at online resources connected to academic skills go to:

To book a tutorial with an Academic Services Librarian, email: (Greenwich site) (Avery Hill site) (Medway site)

Learn the differences between studying in the UK and your own country

When you start studying at university in the UK you may realise that there are different rules regarding writing and referencing than in your own country. You should make sure that you become familiar with the rules for writing academically in the UK. The key thing to remember is that  when you are discussing the work of other people, you must say that you have been talking about the work of someone else. Many countries have different rules about referencing the work of other people. At Greenwich, all departments use the Harvard referencing system.

Don't be afraid to speak

Some international students feel nervous about speaking in front of native English speakers in seminar or group situations. Don't feel nervous! In order to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level you have shown that you have a good standard of English. It's important that you paticipate as much as you can for your sake and the sake of the other students.

Learn to think critically

In academic reading and writing, when we talk about critical thinking it doesn't mean that we are being negative but that we are thinking carefully about what is being read and what we write. While you are reading or listening to lectures, you should be thinking about how much you agree or disagree with what you read or hear. In some cultures it is viewed as respectful to accept whatever an expert has said on a given subject. In the UK, students are encouraged to question the things that they read or listen to.

Learning how to think critically is a skill that you will develop over time. As a starting point you should think about the amount of evidence that the people you write or listen to in lectures provide. Is the evidence enough to help sway you towards their way of thinking? When you are reading texts or online sources you should think carefully about the purpose of the writer. Ask yourself does the writer seem to have done a lot of research and want to inform you of something or are they trying to express their own point of view without much evidence for what they are saying?

Learn how to paraphrase

Paraphrasing means writing in your own words a point that you have read from a written source. As the work you are talking about is not your own you must firstly make sure that you reference it in your work. This means that you give details of the book at the end of your assignment and put the name and the year of publication in the text of the assignment next to your paraphrase. This is called an in text citation.

 You  need to take the idea of what you have read and write it completely in your own words. This does not mean that you just change a couple of words around. The easiest thing to do is to make notes on the text you have been reading after you have read it. If you make notes as you are reading you will put yourself in danger of using too many of the same words from the text. Many cultures see completely copying the words of another as a sign of respect but in the UK you have to use your own words to sum up what is being said. If you want to use the direct words that someone has used, you must use quotation marks. You should only use short quotations and don't use them too often as your tutor will want to see your thinking not just a list of the thinking of others.

Don't rely too much on your translator

When you are a new student studying in a different language it is natural to make sure that the vocabulary you use is appropriate. Many international students worry about their sentence structure and vocabulary, and as a result they can sometimes over rely on their translators. This is not a good idea. By all means use your translator for some things but if you use it for every sentence you are in danger of writing texts that do not make any sense. This is because the word order in English may be very different to that of your own country and what seems like  a close translation may actually come out confused and grammatically incorrect. Remember your tutors are more interested in writing and thinking that is clear rather than written in very academic English.

Find out about other cultures

You will find that you are on a course with students from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. Every culture has different ways of doing things.It is important that you try to find out about the cultures of the students you are studying with, especially when it comes to doing group work or discussions. Some cultures do not encourage too much discussion during secondary school education so you may find that there are people within your group who, at first, are very quiet. In other cases students may have come from a background where discussion has formed a large part of their school life and so they are confident about speaking out in public and small groups. Learning about the cultural backgrounds of those you are with will help all of you to adjust to group and spoken work.

Practise note taking styles

One of the most important things you should learn as a new student is how to write effective notes. You can use the Palgrave Study Skills guides online to help you with this, or attend a free workshop run by the academic skills team to help you learn more.

Remember that it may be possible for you to record a lecturer. This will mean that if there are parts of a lecture that you don't understand you will be able to play them again in your own time. You must ask the lecturer for their permission for you to record them before you record.

Many lecturers will use power point presentations with graphics that can help support your understanding of the lecture.

You should also listen out for sign posting words. Sign posting means that the lecture is going to highlight the direction their lecture is going in, or stress key points. Often for example, in an introduction the lecturer will make it clear how many points he is going to make and when in the lecture they are going to make them. Listening out for sign posting words and phrases can help you recognise the parts of the lecture that are going to be most important to you.

Finally, do as much as you can to make life easier for yourself in lectures. Often you will be in a lecture theatre with lots of other students. This can be quite a shock if it is something you have not been used to in your own country. You will have to concentrate for longer periods of time than you might be used to too. With this is mind you should ensure that you do not go to bed too late before the night before an important lecture. Make sure you have eaten so you are not distracted by being hungry, and make sure you know the time and venue of the lecture so that you can arrive on time. Many important points made by a lecturer will be made in their introduction.

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