I can tell there will be lots of writing essays presumably? But in terms of lectures and seminars etc. what am I looking at?
Any advice on handling the work is welcome!
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My advice would be to go to all the lectures and tutorials. I know this sounds obvious but if you have a lecture at 9am on a Friday, it can be tempting just to sleep in. Tutorials often tend to mark attendance too and in one, simply attending tutorials got you some CAS marks so there are important. Some subjects take attendance in lectures, my history ones didn't but check as yours could.
I had a choice of essay titles to do and I assume you will do. Sometimes you had to register for a specific essay online and sometimes you just chose so check this with each course. I would recommend choosing and starting your essay as soon as you can. This will make it a lot less stressful on hand in week.
Try to do as much research before your essay as you can. Quite a bit of the course will be reading. Essays will also need referencing so check which style you need to use in advance. I find referencing a massive pain but it needs to be done so leave time at the end to check all the references are correct and properly referenced. It may be useful to get a friend to read over it to check for spelling and grammar errors too.
Previous exam papers should be available from your uni so you can practise before yours. Usually there is a lot of choice so you can select which parts of the course you are strongest at and prepare for them. Hope this helped.
The main teaching is the course will be done through the lectures, where the lecture will usually talk through a PowerPoint about an issue for say a hour. Tutorials are like small classes of 10 to 15 people where you discuss aspects of the course. They usually begin a few weeks after the course has started. They are lead by a tutor and are there to see that you are understanding the material. Sometimes there will be reading or a source to prepare you for it. If there is a source, try to do some research on it. A quick google search should give you some information on the author and time period where you can then expand upon.
It is basically a small class but the tutor will ask more questions instead of you writing down notes. Some assign presentations for you to do, sometimes group sometimes individuals, then a few students might present each week. Now my uni monitored attendance for the tutorials and not the lectures. I don't know if yours will but it is important to go to them. Your seminar tutors are also likely to be the people who mark and distribute your essays.
There may be some level of marks given for tutorials. My courses gave 10% for tutorial attendance and participation so remember to put some preparation in each week and think of a few things to say. It is just a easy way to secure a few more marks before the exam.
Essays: Allow roughly 7 days per 3,000 words of written work, 3-8hrs per day during these days is about right. You'll speed up throughout your degree but ideally that time saved will be re-invested into your work.
- Stick to the style guide that your department mandates, this may be a well-known style such as Chicago or MHRA, or it could be the department's own set style. Sticking to whatever the department handbook asks for will help you wade through the confusing and often contradictory advice your lecturers will give on referencing.
- It is best practice to avoid using secondary sources older than 10-15 years, unless you have very good reason to be doing so (for example responding to a significant seminal work, or on a topic that has had little or no recent scholarship published)
- Variety and quality of sources is more important than sheer quantity. If you use too many sources then you won't have any word count left to construct your own original argument based on the evidence that you have analysed. It varies a lot depending on precisely what you are doing and what time period you are working on, but as a rough guide, anywhere from 20-30 good quality sources is healthy for a 3,000 word essay, 35-60 for a 5,000, 45+ for anything larger.
Seminars/Tutorials: Allow 4-8hrs prep per 1hr of tutorial/seminar, either all reading, or reading+presentation practice.
Lectures: Allow 1hr of reading per 1hr of lecture. Lectures are usually delivered in order to introduce you to new material, but it always helps to have a general overview of things in advance, or to catch up on the things you didn't understand or didn't catch in the lecture.
If you feel material is being introduced faster than you can remember it all, don't panic. Most modules will be structured so that you only have a few pieces of assessed work, and a few exam questions. this enables you to specialize in on the topics/aspects (4-7 of them) of each module that really interest you, whilst retaining more of an overview of the rest.
Exams: Definitely consult past exam papers for guidelines on what kinds of questions are 'fair game', and also how much the questions have varied over the past several years. Do NOT think of exams as just regurgitating what you were taught in lectures, although a certain amount of this will occasionally come in useful. That said, to hit the high marks It is absolutely critical to articulate your individual original argument that synthesizes information drawn from wide reading, and doesn't just list facts/dates or irrelevant information. If you read widely enough, you'll find that you'll just absorb everything you need naturally, then it is just up to you to synthesize it into intelligent exam responses.
Summary: The baseline time management demands of a History degree are pretty easy going, but you get out what you put in, and if you want to do your best you'll get the reward from putting in far more than the 'minimum'.