Writing essays at University?

Watch this thread
nohaynada
Badges: 12
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#1
I'm going to be a first year this year and just wondering when we have an essay/assignment to write, are you given specific books to source from?

Or are you supposed to find books on your own? If so, how exactly? Do you spend hours looking at books alphabetically in the library or is there a database where you type in random keywords until you find a relevant textbook?
0
reply
Energy_Purple
Badges: 10
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#2
Report 7 years ago
#2
It's a little bit of both, depending on what university, what subject, and then what each individual lecturer is like.

No lecturer will ever give you EVERYTHING that you need, only the bare basic bibliography with maybe a couple of specialist titles thrown in there for interest. Whilst it's possible to achieve a somewhat decent mark relying on this list, you'd need to go further and find your own material too. Not only does it show the lecturer that you're making the effort, but it also helps to consolidate everything that you've learnt.

The easiest ways of sourcing for me (I do Ancient History, but it's essentially the same for most subjects):


-Look at the basic bibliography and read through some of the material

-Look at the footnotes and bibliographies in the books themselves, hunt those references out, and read those as well (Mining for sources is a great way as well to see how different thoughts and theories have changed over time!)

-Look online (Your university will have a subscription to a massive journal database called JSTOR, as well as their own library e-book database. JSTOR will become the greatest thing in your life, I guarantee it.) There's no point in randomly searching words, because that will give you anything and everything, barely any of it useful to your essay most of the time. Have a look through your lecture notes, have a look at any little lecture blurbs or module handbooks, see what sort of topics and concepts it emphasises, and go from there.

-Remember as well, if you have a massive struggle finding books, GO TO YOUR LECTURER AND ASK!!!!! I can't stress this enough. So many people are scared of going to lecturers office hours for fear of being made to look like an idiot. This couldn't be further from the truth, a good 90% of lecturers will be more than willing to give you advice and guidance if you admit to them you need some help.

University essays and assignments are very different from A-Levels in terms of the degree of independent learning and the concepts that you cover, but this is why 1st year doesn't usually count towards your degree classification. It's meant to be a learning curve, and working out how to find this information out and apply it to your work. I wouldn't stress about it too much now, topics and information/advice lectures and seminars in the first week or so of term will give you an idea of the sorts of things they're looking for!

Hope that helps!
3
reply
DanielleB3500
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#3
Report 5 years ago
#3
(Original post by Energy_Purple)
It's a little bit of both, depending on what university, what subject, and then what each individual lecturer is like.

No lecturer will ever give you EVERYTHING that you need, only the bare basic bibliography with maybe a couple of specialist titles thrown in there for interest. Whilst it's possible to achieve a somewhat decent mark relying on this list, you'd need to go further and find your own material too. Not only does it show the lecturer that you're making the effort, but it also helps to consolidate everything that you've learnt.

The easiest ways of sourcing for me (I do Ancient History, but it's essentially the same for most subjects):


-Look at the basic bibliography and read through some of the material

-Look at the footnotes and bibliographies in the books themselves, hunt those references out, and read those as well (Mining for sources is a great way as well to see how different thoughts and theories have changed over time!)

-Look online (Your university will have a subscription to a massive journal database called JSTOR, as well as their own library e-book database. JSTOR will become the greatest thing in your life, I guarantee it.) There's no point in randomly searching words, because that will give you anything and everything, barely any of it useful to your essay most of the time. Have a look through your lecture notes, have a look at any little lecture blurbs or module handbooks, see what sort of topics and concepts it emphasises, and go from there.

-Remember as well, if you have a massive struggle finding books, GO TO YOUR LECTURER AND ASK!!!!! I can't stress this enough. So many people are scared of going to lecturers office hours for fear of being made to look like an idiot. This couldn't be further from the truth, a good 90% of lecturers will be more than willing to give you advice and guidance if you admit to them you need some help.

University essays and assignments are very different from A-Levels in terms of the degree of independent learning and the concepts that you cover, but this is why 1st year doesn't usually count towards your degree classification. It's meant to be a learning curve, and working out how to find this information out and apply it to your work. I wouldn't stress about it too much now, topics and information/advice lectures and seminars in the first week or so of term will give you an idea of the sorts of things they're looking for!

Hope that helps!
Typically, how long are you given to write essays with a lot of research needed? Also, how long does it take to hear any feedback in terms of marking from lecturers, and how are they assessed?
0
reply
Klix88
Badges: 17
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#4
Report 5 years ago
#4
This thread's a couple of years old now, but my thoughts are:

(Original post by DanielleB3500)
Typically, how long are you given to write essays with a lot of research needed?
It will vary between courses and lecturers. However for a pretty standard undergrad essay, I'd expect at least 4 week's notice of the topic and deadline. However some will be shorter. At Oxford, Humanities students can be expected to turn out more than one essay a week.

Also, how long does it take to hear any feedback in terms of marking from lecturers
Again, feedback deadlines and assessment techniques will vary. At my undergrad uni, there was an undertaking to have all coursework marked and returned with full feedback within three weeks of the hand-in deadline.


how are they assessed?
The person setting the work should always give you an idea of what they're looking for and the assignment brief will also give instructions. If anything seems unclear, most lecturers will be pleased if you contact them to ask for clarification.

Marking criteria will be very different between unis, courses, and even different types of essay. However I've done some marking at my current uni and these are the core things I look for:
- Has the essay actually answered the question? It's surprisingly easy to get diverted when you're writing/researching. When you write your conclusion, always make sure that you directly answer the question in the title based on the rest of the essay. That gives you time to refocus the rest of the work if you've gone off at a tangent.
- Does the essay include information/data from sources (books, journal papers, academic websites etc) beyond just lecture material? Does it show evidence of independent reading? The main way you learn is by studying independently, which usually means lots of library time (either in the library or online). If you want really good marks, read, read and read some more. Then remember to use what you've read.
- Are your sources properly referenced? You will be trained on how to do this. Not referencing properly can be taken as plagiarism (copying) and is an academic offence. It will usually be treated leniently in your first year as you're learning how to do it, but second and third years will be expected to reference properly.
- Have you shown that you've taken on board a range of academic thinking and formed your own opinion? Have you explained it well? I don't need to agree with what is being said, but I do want to see it being properly argued with facts and academic sources - I don't just want to know what the student thinks. We can all have opinions - at uni you need to demonstrate that you have *informed* opinions.
- Does the essay follow basic instructions given in the assignment brief e.g. font, font size, line spacing etc. Following these will get you a few extra percent for minimal effort - really just paying attention and delivering what is being requested.
- Has the work been spell-checked? Unless the coursework arrives with a Student Support "Dyslexia Aware" sticker (or similar for other cognitive problems) then I will expect to see work which has at least been run through a spellchecker. The occasional mistake is human, but consistent poor spelling/grammar throughout the work will have me lopping off marks.
- Is the bibliography (the list of sources that you have used) in the correct format? Again, you will be taught how to do this. Getting it right shows attention to detail and demonstrates an ability to follow instructions.
- Have you woffled? Filler is very obvious and if you manage to write large blocks of text which don't contain any facts, data, information, references, academic opinions etc, then these will be ignored. Again, it's surprisingly easy to do accidentally. And if it's done deliberately to reach the word count, it will be very obvious.
- Please don't try to get around plagiarism checkers. The staff know all of the tricks and they won't work. Sometimes they may decide not to take action for whatever reason, but you should never risk it.
- The staff will know (and in indeed, may have helped write) the Wikipedia entries relevant to your essay title. If you try to lean on them in any way, you will be spotted. Wikipedia is a secondary source and should never be cited unless you're writing an essay about, or directly involving, Wikipedia.
3
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

How did your Edexcel GCSE Maths Paper 1 go?

Loved the paper - Feeling positive (34)
18.78%
The paper was reasonable (72)
39.78%
Not feeling great about that exam... (37)
20.44%
It was TERRIBLE (38)
20.99%

Watched Threads

View All