Posted in Uncategorized

Dissertation Tips

Having recently been set my third year dissertation, I’ve attended the 301 ‘Dissertation Planning’ workshop, as well as doing some research and asking people for tips! Here is a collection of helpful hints and tips for planning and writing your dissertation.

Picking a topic

  • For many undergrads, the dissertation is your first opportunity to do your own research so it’s super important to pick something a topic you are interested in! You’re going to have to put a lot of time into this topic so make sure it isn’t something that you are going to get bored of in a couple of weeks time!
  • Your dissertation idea should be something novel and original which hasn’t already been covered by the literature. Think of your dissertation as your own contribution to increasing knowledge in your field! As someone studying a science subject this is really exciting to me – what could be better than discovering something new?!
  • I was advised by my supervisor that if you discover a paper that is the same as your dissertation idea then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new direction or an entirely new topic! My own dissertation topic has gone from prehistoric crocodiles to woolly mammoths for this very reason!

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Research

  • Read. A LOT!
  • Make notes on what you have read to keep track of what each paper was, this will make writing your dissertation much easier.
  • And make sure the sources you use are reliable!

Writing

  • Write little and often. Writing a few hundred words a day or setting yourself a similarly achievable target will be much less stressful than an all-nighter writing 10,000 words the night before your deadline!
  • Reference as you go along… I always leave referencing til last but that is not something you want to do on a piece of work this big! It always takes longer than you think!

Supervisors

  • Avoid awkward silences in 1:1 meetings by thinking about what you would like the meeting to cover. You could even write an informal agenda for yourself.
  • Talk to your supervisor – this is possibly the first time you’ve had this level of 1:1 assistance from a member of staff… Make the most of them by talking through your ideas and asking questions when you are unsure.
  • Don’t expect them to hand answers to you on a plate though – my own supervisor regularly answers my questions with a question to get me thinking for myself.
  • And don’t be afraid to ask other members of staff or reach out to other experts in the field for their input, most people are happy to share their knowledge with you!

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With two months until hand in day I’m not sure how many of these I will manage to stick to but fingers crossed for a successful dissertation!

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Jenny

Things not going right?

Feeling like things aren’t going your way? Feeling sleep-deprived? Feeling like you want to give up? You aren’t alone! University IS a stressful time and recent studies have shown that student mental health is suffering as a result. With a heavy workload, exams, financial concerns, personal circumstances and other factors all running parallel you have a lot to deal with. This post is an attempt to give some three real pieces of advice from someone who has seen some dark times whilst at Uni. Helpful links and extra reading are given at the bottom!

1. Give yourself a pat on the back. Whether you take this literally or not is up to you but seriously don’t be too hard on yourself. You have already got the grades to be at a Russell Group University, made the big decision to attend University with all the associated changes. This is often overlooked especially if you have a lot of friends and family members that are at or have attended University. You are doing seriously well so far in life.

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2. Don’t be afraid to seek support. Regardless of your problem, whether it is concerns about money, a potential mental health problem or a falling out with friends get some advice. Every person has a support network around them of differing levels containing a mix of friends, family, University staff, other students, online forums. Decide which is best for you and talk it through. If you think it’s likely to affect your academic performance let the University know as soon as possible!

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3.Take time for you. Sometimes it can feel as if you have a mountain of work on top of you and another mountain of life worries. This can really be mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting so you need to take some time out. Find out what helps you relax or what you enjoy doing, for me it’s exercise and drawing. Dedicate some time for this and you might start feeling more relaxed.

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Sources of support at University:

External sources of support:

Further reading:

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Ellie

How to make your Easter Break Productive

Over Easter, we have three weeks off. In these three weeks there is perfect opportunity to get ready for summer exam season. Here’s how:

  • The last eight weeks have been long and intense, what with all of the work and play we have had to face. It is therefore vital that we all take some time to rest and recuperate. Spend some time with family and friends to chill. This down-time will also give you a chance to reflect on the last few weeks.

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Ok, so now you’re calm and have rejuvenated yourself, it’s time to jump right back into academia with your brand new fresh perspective on things!

  • Take a look through your lecture notes, any feedback you have received etc, and highlight to yourself the areas that you need to work on most. Also, to catch up on material that you may have missed. Try to take some time to re-learn what you have recently been taught and to make sure the most important things are clear to you.

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This is the perfect time to get everything straight.

  • Make a timetable for the next seven weeks – leading up to exams – one that divides your time between revising, studying and socialising. If you make your timetable during Easter then you won’t have to waste precious term-time creating it, when you could be doing one of the above. Time-tabling will help you organise your priorities. This knowledge should encourage you to focus on these weaker areas whilst away from uni.

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  • Another important thing that you could do during your Easter break is look forward to the summer and make some plans. This way, throughout the exam period you will have a lot to look forward to.

Once we return from the Easter break, we only have three weeks left of lectures left! After reading week, exams begin! That doesn’t give you a lot of time to get ready for your exams. That is why it is so important to get prepared whilst you have the time to do so!

Follow this advice and you should have time to work and play right up until exam period!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Miranda

How to become a Sheffield Mentor!

What is a University of Sheffield Mentor?

  • Mentors are students who volunteer to help mentees (usually first year and international students) settle in to university life and provide a first point of contact for queries.
  • As a mentor you should arrange to meet your mentee when they first arrive at University and keep in contact with them throughout the year, or as long as they find it helpful.
  • Some questions you can deal with yourself, and sometimes you will need to refer the question on to another person or service. You are expected to be helpful and friendly, but the expectations of your role is not unrealistic and you are not expected to “do it all”.
  • You will be matched with up to 4 students from your department, as you will have the most in common with them, however this doesn’t mean you will help them with extensive academic queries and you are not expected to act in place of their academic tutors or as a teacher.
  • Students from any departments can be a Mentor (with the exceptions of Denistry and Medicine which run their own schemes).

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What will I gain?

  • Having taken part in the Sheffield Mentor scheme I found that it helps to develop a number of skills, including communication and interpersonal skills, through liasing with your mentee and giving them clear, concise and helpful advice. It will also help you to develop other skills such as listening, empathising and organisation.
  • Being a Mentor can be hugely rewarding on a personal level, and further to this you might develop long lasting friendships through the scheme.
  • As a mentor you will receive a certificate acknowledging the training and work you’ve done.  A mentee may even nominate you for an ‘Outstanding Mentor of the Year’ Award.
  • It looks great on your CV that you’re keen to get involved with extra things at university and help others, and gives you something interesting to talk about in interviews etc.

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Mentors’ Comments:

  • I thoroughly enjoyed being a mentor, and felt it was extremely worthwhile, it was great to know that you were able to help someone else and they appreciated the time you were able to give them. It was very satisfying!”
  • “I’ve found it to be a very rewarding experience and hope my mentees love Sheffield as much as I do!”

How can I apply?

  • You can find lots of information for prospective mentors at this link, and apply online using the Sheffield Mentors Hub and the preferred deadline is Wednesday 5th April!

 

Posted in Intern advice, Uncategorized, Written by Maddie

How you can learn a new language while at university

How many times have you thought about picking up a new language but have never actually done anything about it?

Knowing another language is an amazing skill to have and the more time you invest in it, the more opportunities will come your way to travel, meet new people and just know more about a culture different than your own.

Among the many many… many opportunities offered by our University, there is one that makes learning a language as simple and straightforward as it can get.

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The programme is called “Languages for All” and it offers you the possibility to either set the base for a new language as a beginner or to just pick up from where you left. There are a lot of options you could choose from and the best thing about it, is that you could also do it for free!

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the programme:

  1. The programme is very well structured and flexible as it offers you the possibility to attend classes both in the afternoon and evening so it doesn’t clash with any of your modules.
  2. On top of the actual lecture you will also have a 1 hour Lab that gives you the chance to practice any new information with other people on the same level as you.
  3. If you are taking the module on a non-for-credit basis the exam at the end is optional, so you don’t have to worry about not having time to prepare for it on top of your actual courses.
  4. It can either be done for an entire academic year or if you are really busy, going on a year abroad or would like to focus on something else, you can choose to just try it out for a semester.
  5. If you are taking part in an Erasmus programme, this is an amazing opportunity for you to get the basis of the language before you head off!
  6. It goes on your HEAR, so there is actual proof to demonstrate your effort!

All in all the programme is a great opportunity to just try something new while you are still figuring everything else at uni! If this post sparked your interest even a little bit here is a link where you can check when the next registration period is going to open: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/languages/lfa

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Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Miranda

Successfully writing coursework…

Hi there! It’s Miranda again with some (hopefully) helpful tips on how to write a great piece of coursework. Now I’m in my 4th year I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of writing coursework and the best ways to go about it, so here’s some tips 🙂

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Attend one of our workshops

At 301 we run lots of workshops on Academic Writing to help you improve your techniques. This is the best starting point if you’ve never been to a workshop before. Even if you’ve written lots coursework at university, there’s always room for improvement and you’ll almost definitely learn something new. If you’re a workshop newbie you could attend the Academic Workshop: Overview session, or alternatively there are other sessions on academic writing flow or style.

There a workshop on Academic Writing: Essays at 14:45 on Wednesday 22nd March so why not book on?

If you’re still not sure which workshop to attend, check this mindmap out and it will tell you!

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(No 149. on the map)

Get organised, early

Ok, so this isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but the best essays are obviously those which have been most well prepared for (and generally not the ones written last minute..) You should do lots of research and planning, and then a bit more, and the best way to do this stress-free is to start early!

Write your introduction last

Although I’d heard this advice at the start of first year I never really tried it properly until this year. It might be tempting once you’re ready to start writing to just dive straight in, in an attempt to get as many words down as possible, but its really helpful to write the introduction last to make sure it gives an informative and concise overview of the essay. If you right you introduction last, and do it well, then you’re framing your reader to give you a good mark, too!

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Reference as you go along… Properly!

So you probably don’t leave all your referencing until you’ve finished the essay (unless you like to live dangerously), but do you reference properly? You can make your life so much easier by taking extra care to write down page numbers for references, and compiling your bibliography as you go along. There’s nothing more dull than having to go through and re-do all your references as the end, and if it’s boring you’re more likely to miss a mistake.

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Put it down for a couple of days

If you manage to get your essay completed a few days early you’re in a great position. It can be really useful for park it for a few days, and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes to see where you could improve it and to spot any errors.

Hope this helps, good luck!

Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Jenny

Dealing with the stress of Uni work!

Without a doubt University can be a stressful experience, sometimes you probably want to cry when thinking about the amount of work you have to do and sometimes you just ignore it in the hope it goes away.

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In my 3 and a bit years of study I’ve learnt a bit about dealing with the stress of Uni work and conquered the dreaded dissertation, so here are my tips…

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An actual photo of me after my dissertation.

  1. Easy to say in hindsight but don’t leave it all to the last minute, make sure you spend enough time planning, researching, writing and proofreading. Say you have 1 month to complete an essay, I would ideally spend 2-3 weeks planning and researching and 1-2 weeks writing and proofreading. Your stress levels will never peak above a panic threshold with this approach and you might actually hand it in early.
  2. Realistically, few will manage this. So if you do find yourself with a few days to write 2000 words you need to get practical. Ask yourself some key questions. Break it down into more manageable bits and it will seem less daunting.
  • What do I currently understand?
  • What do I need to understand?
  • How much can actually be read in the time left?
  • What sections am I going to use?
  • Am I answering the question?
  • Have I referenced?

Follow these questions through for a (slightly) less terrifying experience.

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3. Plan ahead. At the beginning of each semester you should roughly know what assignments will be given and roughly when, unfortunately this depends on the organisation of your department. If you know what’s coming it can’t surprise you, simple!

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4. And RELAX. Don’t forget to do breaks to do the things you love. Whether that is a few hours walking in the Peaks, playing video games for a few hours or having a nice coffee and cake. If you feel overwhelmed you won’t be productive.

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Good luck in battling through your Uni Work!

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Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Kim

What If I Can’t Attend Workshops?

Hi everybody! Kim here.

I have been promoting the benefits of 301 workshops to my friends and coursemates ever since I started working as an intern. Most of them expressed interest, but mentioned that they cannot attend it because they do not have the time or the workshop timings do not fit into their schedule.

Well, what if I told you that there are alternative ways in which you could get access to the workshop resources.

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Option 1: If you cannot attend the workshops, there are carousels by the entrance which hold summary printouts of all the 301 workshops. Some of the printouts have templates on them where you could bring them home and write or draw on them.

Option 2: If you do not have the time to come in, we have online resources of our workshops. 

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Option 3: If reading isn’t your thing, we have a couple of videos on our YouTube account with similar resource content.

Option 4: We also offer 1-on-1 study skills tutorials where you could choose your appointment and study skills to focus on with our tutors. The appointments are shorter than the workshops and you have the flexibility to choose your appointment slot.

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I hope that helps.

See ya next time!

Posted in Written by Ellie

The Student Elections, and Why They Matter!

A significant event within the University of Sheffield is about to take place… No not varsity – although according to many, varsity is arguably THE most important event in UoS’s calendar! I am talking about the Student Union officer elections.

These are the annual elections where our student body elect individuals, who will lead the Union as representatives of us all. Listed below are the positions to be filled, and a short description of what the role entails:

  • PresidentTo lead the Students’ Union in representing, campaigning for and serving the needs of students at the University of Sheffield.
  • International Students’ Officer – Represent international students, working with the SU and University to promote their interests, views and welfare.
  • Sports Officer – To ensure the provision of sports opportunities and clubs for students. Acts as the advocate of students engaged in sport at all levels. Works to increase the number of students taking part in sport.
  • Welfare Officer – To promote student welfare, both by ensuring that well-designed support services exist and by campaigning on related issues.
  • Women’s Officer To represent the views, interests and needs of women students and to champion and campaign for equality and liberation.
  • Activities OfficerTo shape the activities programme (e.g. societies, volunteering) available to students and champion participation in activities.
  • Education Officer – To lead the representation of students’ views, interests and needs in relation to all educational matters.
  • SU Development OfficerTo represent students’ commercial interests and lead development of the best possible commercial offer to students.

I think that as students of the University of Sheffield, our Student’s union is extremely important, it is at the centre of the university as a whole, and the impact that it has reaches throughout our University experience; therefore, whoever runs it is very important too. If you want a union that reflects your ideals, then the thing you can do is vote!

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Another great thing about our voting system is that you can rank your favourite candidates, rather than just having to choose one!

Here is the link that you need for all of the candidates manifestos: https://su.sheffield.ac.uk/make-a-change/officer-elections-2017/your-candidates-announced

Remember: VOTE BY 5PM ON THURSDAY 9TH MARCH!!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Miranda

6 Reasons to study a year abroad!

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If you’ve already been accepted on a place to study abroad in 2017-18, firstly – congratulations! Secondly, I’m extremely jealous! I hope you can use this blog as a sort of checklist of things to do on your year abroad, and things to look forward to!

If you’re still debating whether you should study abroad during your time at university, I hope this can persuade you, as I found first hand it was absolutely invaluable in so many ways.

Last year I was in Utrecht in the Netherlands as part of the Erasmus scheme. I studied on exchange from the Law Department so studied a diverse range of subjects from Children’s Rights and Juvenile Justice, to the Role of the Supreme Court in the USA and lived in a flat of 7 people on the university campus. I can honestly say that the year was one of the best years of my life so far, and I think this echoes the same view of many others I met in Utrecht/ who have undertaken a year abroad from Sheffield University. So why exactly is it so amazing? Whilst it can be a little daunting to uproot mid-way through your degree to a new country and university, there are so many advantages of doing so. So, here’s just 6 examples of many reasons why you should study a year abroad!

1. Experience a new culture

The chance to immerse yourself in a new culture for a full year without taking on any financial or personal risks is, for many people, a once in a lifetime opportunity. One of my favourite parts of studying abroad was seeing the way that Dutch people live and how their culture differs from ours. As for Dutch culture in particular; I loved how organised and direct Dutch people tend to be, and the convenience of being able to cycle anywhere you want to go, and, of course, the cheese.

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2. Travel

Whilst the opportunity to visit a new place in itself is fantastic, the chances to travel don’t stop there. The workload on exchange tends to be slightly less intense, the flights within Europe are ridiculously cheap (such as a return from Amsterdam to Germany for €35 or to Poland for €15…), and you’re likely to meet many other like-minded students who want to enjoy travelling – the perfect storm for an amazing year of adventures across Europe or further!

Not only this, but you’re likely to make friends on your year abroad from across the world – i.e. friends to visit across the world. The best kind of travelling is with a local!

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3. Appreciate your home

So studying abroad can make you fall in love with another culture, but it can also make you really appreciate your home country and university. When I came back to Sheffield after my year abroad I realised I hadn’t made as much of an effort to explore the area as I had abroad, and had taken for granted all the things you can do and see as a student in the UK. Since arriving back in Sheffield I have realised that there are 3 things in particular I’d taken for granted: Sheffield SU (Pop Tarts, ROAR, Tuesday Club, Bar One, Interval, New Leaf (bae), the countless societies and other events, the list goes on…), the Peak District, and also some English food that is simply not the same anywhere else (I’ll admit I did actually miss meal deals and Greggs quite a lot).

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4. Learn a language

A huge benefit of going abroad for a year is the ability to develop your language skills. Whether you’re developing some previous skills from GCSE or A Level, perfecting your University level language skills, or starting from scratch and learning the basics, learning a language can be really interesting. It makes you stand out in the crowd and is generally  just an all round cool skill to have.

5. Improve your final year grades

I had heard people say that doing a year abroad can help improve your all-important final year grades before I studied abroad, and I must say that since I’ve been back I have definitely found it to be true.

As you develop new ways of thinking and learning you are pushed out of your comfort zone and to try new things on exchange, and I found this helped give me a more well-rounded understanding in my legal studies. I learnt different and diverse topics which I would not have had the chance to otherwise, and this has benefitted me hugely in my degree at Sheffield. For example I studied a module in Utrecht which sparked a particular interest of mine, and I am currently undertaking my research paper in a related area.

Further to this, it develops your skills beyond your literal academic knowledge, such as independence, organisational, research and communication skills and “thinking outside the box” (excuse the cliché) which all feed in to your overall academic development.

Whilst getting good grades is a huge advantage in itself, having a year abroad alone also looks good on your CV: it sets you apart from others and gives you something interesting to talk about in interviews.

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6. Learn about yourself

At a risk of sounding super-cheesy, doing a year abroad truly does teach you a lot about yourself as a person. It opens your eyes to new ways of thinking and learning. You will become more confident, independent and self-aware. You will meet people who change your perspective on things and people you’ll never forget.

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“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”