Skills Hub

Research your subject

At first, read generally and widely first - enjoy the reading; be curious. Write lists of questions for yourself about what you are reading (see Question as you read).

As you research your subject, you will develop lines of inquiry. You will not be able to include them all, so begin to narrow down to the topic you'd like to focus on. This will help you to select appropriate materials to read.

How to read (Royal Literary Fund)
How not to read (Royal Literary Fund)
How to survey, question, read, recall, review (Royal Literary Fund)


Critical thinking skills and the ability to question ideas and evidence are relevant to all aspects of your study. To develop these skills use these links: Critical thinking and Evaluating arguments 

Before starting any assessed work look at the assessment criteria or instructions you have been given about how your work will be graded.

Make notes 

You are making notes so you have relevant evidence, the quotations you need and accurate sources. Be concise. Having too many notes will confuse you.

Have a copy of your referencing guide when you're taking notes. Record sources in the right style and save yourself time later.

There are different approaches to note taking. The Cornell system uses the six Rs - record, reduce, recite, reflect, review, recapitulate (more information on the Cornell system). Note-making styles outlines other approaches.

photograph of student making notes

A successful essay will not only present the ideas of others, but will discuss them, explore them; and critically analyse them. (Luke Martell, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Sussex).

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