As someone entering her second year of reading BA Geography I wanted to share some of the wisdom I’ve picked up from mistakes made and lessons learnt during my first year.
- Attend all of your lectures – now this one may seem obvious but it’s easy to forget! Every single one is invaluable. You will soon learn of or may already be aware of QReview – accessible through QM Plus, this site allows you to view recorded footage of lectures. Although this is useful, you will never learn as much as you would’ve if you had attended the actual lecture.
- Take in a small laptop or tablet: I never expected to need such a device during lectures however, by my third or so lecture I had realised that often lecturers speed through slides and I’d miss out on key points which I would have liked to note down. It would also be useful to bring up papers that your lecturers are referring to.
- Borrow key module texts from the library: During the start of your semester you’ll be given long reading lists for each module, I’d say – take out at least two core texts from the library for each module, just something to refer to as you progress through the lectures. Once you get closer to assignment deadlines take out several more specific books.
- Organise and file your notes as you go along! For each semester you’ll have four modules – this means a lot of notes and loose sheets of paper per module. Keep everything separate and have a notebook or specifically outlined section per module. Organised notes will aid your revision tremendously, disorganised notes will leave you stressed and you’ll most likely have to go through lectures again in order to produce more coherent notes.
- Stay in touch with your lecturers: If you absolutely need to miss a lecture contact your lecturer beforehand. If this isn’t possible then make time afterwards to see or email them, you need to ensure that you attain any handouts or important pieces of information you may have missed out on
- Do not miss assignment deadlines: work to a premature deadline, I would recommend you have your assignments ready at least two days before the prescribed deadline. This allows you to make adjustments and speak to your peers and lecturers about any struggles and uncertainties you have with the finished piece.
- Missing deadlines: This is really not taken lightly in university, you can’t just explain to your lecturer that you were too ill to complete something. If you know you’re going to miss a deadline inform your lecturer beforehand who will advise you further. You will also need to fill out an extenuating circumstances form and provide evidence e.g. a doctor approved sick note. Remember the extenuating circumstances panel consists of individuals who you probably wouldn’t have personally met – ensure that your evidence provided is full proof (i.e. something they can’t not accept). The EC panel’s decision is also always final.
- At the start of your year you’ll be given a small blue handbook (pictured below) outlining all key points of each module – this is precious! Record all the assignment deadlines that are found in this booklet for you modules onto a calendar.
I hope you find these tips helpful – good luck with your first year, Hamida