Posted in Extracurricular, Written by Ellie

My Summer Reads

The academic year is over! This summer has come around so fast, where has the time gone?! However, with no impending deadlines and no course reading to do I am free to read for pleasure once again… and i cannot wait!

So, here are all the books that i cannot wait to read over the next few months and why:

The Circle, Dave Eggers. Image result for the circle dave eggers

Okay, so I have actually already begun reading this novel and I am loving it! Initially, I saw that there was a film coming out called ‘the Circle’ that i thought looked really interesting and was looking forward to the watch. When I learnt that this was based off a book, however, I was desperate to read it, because we all know that the book is always better than the film!

The story is set in an ambiguous near-future, where technology is slightly more advanced than it is today, and social media is at the center of young people’s lives – more so than it is today. Mae, the protagonist, begins working at a huge corporation called The Circle, and although this is deemed the greatest company in the world, things are not all what they seem…

I am so excited to finish this book and then watch the film. The plot seems eerily possible when you consider the directions that technology and social media are heading in at present.


The Essex Serpent, Sara Perry

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Well, I know very little of this book, only that it won The Waterstones book of 2016 and that it is set in 1890’s London.

I bought this book after two women in the shop both came up to me imploring me to read it  as I was having a nosy through it. I felt that their passion about the book spoke highly enough for it and i couldn’t resist buying it.







Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

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This read is half for pleasure, and half for studies, but I am going to re-read this fantastic novel because I shall be studying it in September.

I read this book a few years ago, and although parts of it are long and challenging, it is such a worthwhile book to read. The story follows the life of a young boy, who although born into poverty, is left a large fortune by a mystery benefactor. This is a story of coming of age, and tackling the struggles of Victorian high society





How to Stop Time, Matt Haig

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I am SO excited to read this book. Matt Haig is a writer who I have loved for a long time now, I found his book The Humans, by complete chance, but i believe that everyone should read it in their lifetime; it gives such an interesting perspective on humanity that really makes you think. Haig has also written many other pieces, one being Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir that is intended to provide people with mental health struggles, or anyone else, a list (for lack of a better word) of Reasons to stay alive.

How to Stop Time is out in July, and I intend on buying it on the day of it’s release. From what I can gather from the blurb, this book is about an immortal history teacher, who has lived through centuries, changing his identity to stay alive, and living by one rule: to not fall in love.

I am beyond excited to read this book, because I know that Matt Haig is a fantastic writer, who approaches the struggles of life so accurately.


The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

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This is another 50/50 pleasure/study book. I have studied parts of Wilde’s plays before, but none of his novels, and I cannot wait to read Dorian Gray.

Having seen the film I know what how the novel pans out – a young man sells his soul to the devil in return for his mortality – but I am excited to come to terms with Wilde’s style of novel writing. Also I’m sure the film missed out some gory details, so I am looking forward to learning the full story within The Picture of Dorian Gray.

So this is my summer reading list. I hope you all find time to do some reading for pleasure in the sunshine, and enjoy everything you read!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Ellie

Why Staying Calm During Exam Period Is Important, And The Best Ways To Do It!

It has finally arrived… the dreaded exam period! Although on the bright side, the fact it’s here now means that it will be over so soon!!

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So here are my tips for making these next three weeks super productive:

  • The most important thing, I would argue, is to keep healthy. Although these are obviously very important exams, they are not worth forfeiting your health for. You need to take time in the day to cook, to eat and to do some exercise – a healthy body means a healthy mind and will stand you in good stead of being capable of dealing with the stresses of the season! 

I would maybe recommend some light exercise such as yoga, or walking, just to make sure your body is active after long periods of sitting down to study. It is not wise to stay locked in your room during exam period!

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Don’t lock yourself in your room. Make sure you talk to people and socialize – they could help take your mind off your exam for a while – which is not a bad thing. The world still turns; you cannot let the pressure of exams make you retract into yourself and forget everything else. If you are worried, then a friend may be able to help. 

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If you feel that you need additional help, the Uni provides many great services that can help with exam pressure:

Things not going right service:

Counselling Service:

All of the general information you need from the exams service:         


  • You have to work at a pace that is right for you. It is not worth piling on the workload until the night before an exam; make sure you are ready for it in advance so you feel calm as each one draws nearer. The night before an exam should be a time of calm contemplation, not absolute panic!

The reality is, you can do this, you have done exams in the past and survived. As long as you keep some perspective and stay calm – and also follow my advice – you will do great!

Good luck!

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

Should I Write A Dissertation?!

So it’s the time of year where everything seems to be coming to a huge climax. Exams are looming near, course-work is due in soon and those of us who are coming back in September have to start making plans for our next year of academia. I am currently coming to the end of my second year, so in the midst of all the madness happening around me, I have to make a huge decision: Should I write a dissertation?!

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My department is asking us to have our dissertation proposals in by the end of this month, meaning I have not got long to make my decision as to whether I will do a dissertation or not. In my opinion, writing a dissertation is something you will only ever get the chance to do once – unless you go onto postgraduate study – therefore, would it not be best to just grab the opportunity that you have been presented with? However, it is an extremely daunting task, having to find something that can motivate you enough to put hours upon hours of time and energy into – 10,000 words is a lot!

Here is the list of pros and cons:



A research project you are passionate about. It is easy to get lost, or alternatively to never get sufficiently lost and remain too superficial in your essay.
The opportunity to develop an interest studied in little detail on your degree. Not good if you struggle with deadlines.
The chance to develop your writing style and the ways in which you can structure extended essays. Essays of this length can be difficult to structure.
Good preparation for the MA or potential PhD. It can be hard to manage the number of sources you have read. Or find a sufficiently exciting thesis (argument you are making)
Your grades can go up. Your grades can go down.
Independent means no one will be making sure you are working consistently  

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Things that have helped in my contemplation’s have been the knowledge that there will be plenty of support available to me if I do chose to take on a dissertation.

Most departments will provide a supervisor, who can read drafts and evaluate my work and offer feedback on ideas.

The 301 is readily available with many workshops that will help with dissertation writing, such as: Dissertation Planning, Academic Writing, Proofreading, Searching for Researching and many more.

In my journey of contemplation I have been reassured that once in the swing of writing my dissertation, my biggest worry will be having too much to say and therefore feeling restricted by the word count.

It seems, at the end of the day, it has to be a personal decision, you need to take into account whether you think you are capable or not to work independently, and whether you are passionate enough about the research project to delve so deep into that topic.

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Ellie

Small Ways to Stay Productive in the Lead up to Exams

For the next six weeks, the road to success will require a lot of focus. It is great to have a revision play to stick to, but outside of that there is time for you to maintain this focus and alleviate some of the pressure from your revision. Here are some small things that could make a big difference to you exam preparation.

  • List three things that you need to do each day and make sure that your schedule allows for them. If you have goals then you have something to aim for. Three is not a big number, and therefore not too daunting. By completing three things each day, you will feel a great sense of achievement and a positive attitude throughout your revision period.


  • Use travelling time to broaden your mind. This may be through listening to a podcast or an audio book. By listening and engaging with something stimulating when you are on your way to/from lectures and the library your mind will feel productive. These things don’t necessarily have to be course-related. Although, if you feel that you do not have enough time to revise everything you need to during your allotted revision times, then one option could be to record yourself talking through your notes so you can listen to them on the move.


  • Be tidy. Mess = Stress. Be active in tidying up after yourself throughout the day. By spending five minutes now, you could save an hour later.


  • Listening to upbeat music. Doing this during the day can help keep your spirits high and your energy levels up.

  • Know when to say no. If you have a lot to get done, then a sneaky trip to the pub is probably not the best idea. It feels great whilst you’re there, but as soon as you’re home wanting to go to bed having not completed enough, you will really regret it. Make sure you stay social, but not at the cost of extra stress due to less time. Save socialising for summer when you’ll be completely free to have as much fun as you want.


  • Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated. Being hydrated keeps you energised and therefore in the best state to be productive.

  • Switch up the format of your revision. Reading and writing is all well and good, but it does get extremely boring. Why not find a YouTube video that explains an aspect of your revision in a more visual way – let someone else do all the hard work for a while!


I hope these suggestions help you to have a truly productive revision season!


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.


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.


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.


  • 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!