Skills Hub

Frequently Asked Questions

How much study do I have to do each week?

You will need to spend about 40 hours a week studying. Some of this time will be in taught classes (lectures, seminars etc.) and some in independent study. Skills Hub includes lots of advice (including tips from other students) on time management.

What is independent study?

Much of your learning at Sussex will take place outside of teaching sessions, through your own independent study. This includes, for example, reading; making notes; group work with other students. It is your responsibility to make sure you know what you need to do, and to motivate yourself to study. Make sure you know how to access your learning materials, and when assignments are due. Keep a calendar/diary and follow a daily schedule to keep on track with your learning. If your online lectures are not live (synchronous), make sure you watch the recordings weekly, otherwise you will fall behind and find it difficult to catch up. Although university requires more independent learning than school, that doesn’t mean you are on your own. If you need help with your learning or any aspect of university – just ask!

How can I get the right balance between studying and social life?

This is something many university students find difficult, though it is not impossible! Check out the time management tips on Skills Hub for strategies and resources. If you find you are struggling to keep up with your university work and are feeling worried, you can talk to the Student Life Centre who are here to support you. 

What is teaching at university like?

There are various teaching formats, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and labs. Teaching methods will depend on the subject you are studying. We are expecting that for Autumn 2020 some teaching will be online and some in person – please read our Student Hub information pages to keep yourself up-to-date on our plans for teaching safely at Sussex. Find out more about getting the most from your learning on Skills Hub.

What should I call my teachers?

At Sussex, it is normal to address academic staff by their first name. If you feel this is too informal, you can find out their correct title and last name from the Sussex website, e.g. Dr Smith or Professor Smith.

How can I prepare for a lecture?

Your lecturers will provide you with introductory course materials, including suggested reading for each lecture. You will get the most out of your lecture if you do some preparatory reading, thinking and note making beforehand. Find out about making notes in lectures on Skills Hub.

How can I prepare for seminars?

Contributing to discussions and debates in seminars, workshops and tutorials is an important part of learning at university. This might take place in a classroom, or online via your Canvas module. You can prepare by checking Canvas for any tasks or readings set by your tutor. If your seminar is online, preparation includes testing your equipment to be sure that there are no technical barriers. You can get advice and find out more about presenting and participating in class on Skills Hub.

What can I do if I feel nervous about participating in seminars?

If you are nervous about speaking in seminars, don't worry, you are not alone. Here are some tips that may help you feel more confident. Introduce yourself and get to know your classmates. Arrive/login early and use the extra time to chat with your peers. Prepare for your seminars (do your reading and make notes) and think of what you might want to say beforehand. Make a decision to speak at the beginning of a seminar and act on it, rather than waiting for the right time, as this can make it harder to contribute later on. See seminars for more tips and advice.

I have lost my momentum regarding essay writing over the summer holidays. Is there support to help me with this?

Don’t worry! You will soon get back into the routine of essay writing. The Skills Hub offers a detailed critical essay writing guide, and at Sussex we also have Royal Literary Fund Fellows who offer writing tutorials. There is also plenty of help available in your school from your tutors and Academic Advisor – just ask!

How does essay writing at university differ from school/A level?

A big difference at university is the amount of research you need to do for an essay: this means you can’t write it the night before it’s due in from notes that you’ve taken in class. You will also need to read, cite and reference academic literature relevant to your topic. As you progress at university you will develop your critical thinking skills, which will help with planning your essays. You are also likely to be working on more than one assignment at a time, so you need to be organised to do well.

What are academic resources and how can I find them?

When you first start university, your tutors will guide your reading with lists of suggested texts. As you progress, you will need to develop research skills so that you can identify and locate suitable sources that go beyond textbooks or quick internet searches. The Library offers training on how to access and search databases and use the library collections. Find out how to start searching for information on Skills Hub.

What is referencing?

In academic writing, it is vital to acknowledge other people's words or ideas. This is called referencing. Referencing is important because it shows that you have read other sources and used them to develop your own understanding. Your references should clearly indicate where your ideas come from. Make sure you understand how to reference your work correctly and how to avoid plagiarism.

How do I get a good grade at university?

You will have assessments at university (for example, essays, reports, presentations, exams). The type of assessment will depend on your subject and what you are learning. Each assessment has specific assessment criteria, which you should read carefully so that you understand what you need to do to gain the best grades. You will also benefit from following the advice in the writing and assessment section on Skills Hub.

How does the grading system work? 

In order to pass, you must score at least 40%.   

  • 40%-49% is a Third.  
  • 50%-59 is a 2:2. 
  • 60%-69 is a 2:1. 
  • 70% and above is a First. 

 Find out more about grading at university and credits

What can I do to improve my grades if I am unsure about what to work on?

You will get feedback on your coursework, which you can access through Canvas. If you are unsure about any of the feedback comments, you can email the marker to clarify. After a few assessments, you may want to create a document outlining any common points for improvement within your feedback so that you can refer back to it for future assessments. If you keep persevering, you will see progress, but it may take time, so be patient with yourself and keep up your efforts.
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