Academic skills for Masters students
You will probably already have developed many of the skills needed for postgraduate study as an undergraduate. But you may like to browse through Skills Hub to refresh your knowledge.
If you are new to studying in the UK, see Academic skills for international students.
Ask for helpIf you are struggling with any aspect of your course, talk to your tutor. Most academic staff have office hours when you can see them or you can arrange a meeting by email.
Listen to Masters students talking about their experiences of studying at Sussex:
Study at Masters level
You are expected to work in a similar way to academic staff, researching debates and coming up with your own carefully considered position.
The resources below can help you develop the skills you will need. The university also provides workshops, tutorials and support with academic skills. See Workshops and Tutorials and People to talk to.
Time management skillsAs a Masters student, you are likely to be juggling a busy life with your university commitments. Even if you have recently studied at undergraduate level, postgraduate study may bring new challenges of self-motivation and self-discipline, as you will be required to work more independently.
- Time management provides some advice and strategies for self-organisation, prioritising tasks, planning your time and dealing with distractions.
You will be expected to develop a deeper understanding of your subject by reading beyond the core texts and selecting relevant materials yourself. If you have not used academic journals before, visit the library (online or in person) and become familiar with the journals that are relevant to your discipline.
- Skills Hub will show you how to find resources and evaluate information and give you advice on various referencing systems. The Library also provides one-to-one and group workshops and training.
- You will be expected to demonstrate your skills in critically analysing your readings. This means that you are able to evaluate the sources that you use and show how the work of others contributes to your own understanding. For help with 'critical' or 'active' reading visit Reading and research, in particular, Questioning as you read and Critical thinking.
- Keep a record of your references as you read. To help with this you may want to use a reference management tool such as EndNote or Zotero. For more information, see Managing citations and EndNote.
Evaluation and data-analysis skillsYou may be required to conduct your own research and collect and analyse your data. There may be classes providing subject-specific advice on how to do this. If you are new to a particular discipline and are unsure of what is required, ask your tutor for advice.
- Collect This is an online tutorial introducing basic principles of data collection using a range of methods.
- Analyse This is an online tutorial to guide you through the analysis of your data.
You will probably have to produce a long essay or report or deliver a presentation with your findings. Make sure that you allow enough time for all stages of the writing process - see Planning, drafting and editing. Discuss your ideas with your tutor to make sure you are heading in the right direction.
Try using the Turnitin - Originality Reports tool in Canvas to check your draft assignments for text matches.
Other useful links
Postgraduate study skills Open University site
Taught postgraduates: the Careers and Employability Centre provides career development support online and face-to-face.