The Final Hurdle: Useful Tips for Dissertations

By Becky (Student blogger: BA Hons History)

Dissertations, a dominant part of final year at Lancaster or postgraduate degrees. They can be very daunting, and a lot of responsibility is placed on you to research and produce a substantial piece of work. Having recently completed mine, I have learnt many tips throughout my final year to make this process as easy as possible.

Tip 1: Start Early

Starting early is possibly the most beneficial of these tips, as it can save you so much time in the long run. Your workload can be balanced much more easily over a longer period of time, allowing flexibility. Alongside the dissertation will be other modules, which require coursework, as well as all the issues life can throw your way, so be starting early, staying on top of this is significantly easier.

Tip 2: Make use of your supervisor

Most students will have a dissertation supervisor, and they are there to help your dissertation be the best piece of work it can. Draft chapters and plans can be handed in and marked to guide you on the correct path, and even having dealt with strike this year, most supervisors are on their emails and more than happy to help.

Tip 3: Take a break!

It is also important to take breaks from your dissertation. Being such a substantial piece of work, it can be very difficult to focus on it for long lengths of time. Taking breaks can help you make time for your social life, other deadlines, jobs and also help you look after your mental health. A tip here is doing a little bit every day or dedicating one day a week to it will allow you to make progress while balancing it with other work as well as societies and a social life.

Tip 4: Proofreading

What I have personally found useful is getting other people to read it. Whether this be course mates, parents, housemates, your brain will be used to reading the same sentences over again, so having fresh eyes read it can be extremely beneficial. It is also worth getting people who don’t do the same subject as you to read it, they can spot where things need to be better explained for people marking he may not know about your topic, as well as bringing in knowledge and writing skills from their degrees.

Tip 5: Finish Early

The final tip your department will hammer into your heads is to try and finish it a few weeks before the deadline, to allow for editing, printing or binding issues that may crop up close to the end.

Finally handing in your dissertation is a massive achievement you need to celebrate, even if stuck in isolation. Best of luck, and happy writing!!

How to Channel the Library from Your Bedroom

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

You’re shaking. The unthinkable has happened- there will be no compulsory exams for the summer term. Goodbye endless hours of absentminded half-studying, hello months of frenzied Netflix binges, crazed gaming sessions and potential existential crises. Tossing your gallon-sized jar of midnight oil into the bin, you start to list every single way you can maximize your enjoyment of the coming six months.

A month in, you’re starting to go a little bit insane. You’ve watched every show on the planet- in five languages. The game industry is booming from the hours you’ve crammed in and in-game purchases you’ve blown your pocket money on. And somehow, you’re starting to realize that- oh god- you miss university!! Collective gasps resonate from the chamber that is your bedroom.

You realise you’ve let yourself get a little too loose and you should probably start preparing for next year by re-learning (or learning- I’m looking at you, lecture-skippers) the course material from this year. Alas, the comfort of the library is out of your grasp- how will you ever focus without the soothing of lime green carpets?

  1. Craft a clean, distraction-free study environment

The library is professionally designed to facilitate studying as much as possible, which is why you, like many others, might feel you’re at your most productive there. While you can’t whisk yourself away, one thing you can do to achieve a similar state is to create the perfect studying environment at home: one that is distraction-free, clean and has the tools you need easily within reach. Try clearing your desk and placing it near a window- or find a quiet corner of the house that vibes with you. Put your devices away if you don’t need them. It’s amazing how much difference a decent study area can make.

  1. Hatch a plan

It’s incredibly easy to sit down and get overwhelmed by the amount of content towering above you. A bad habit people do is try to watch lectures while eating or listening to music. Sure, you get more done, but remember that you’re here to learn. How much do you think you’ll absorb from having your lecturer talk over an episode of Tiger King? One thing you should keep in mind is you have loads of time. If you take a little time to draw up a simple chart of, lets say, which chapters you’ll cover over which weeks, I think you’ll be able to keep your focus a little better since you know what your goals are.

  1. Sleep Properly

It’s not a very good idea to go full holiday mode, sleeping at 4am and groggily pulling yourself out of bed at 3pm. You’ll notice many guides (e.g. fitness, mental health, academics) mention having a good sleep schedule, and that’s because sleep plays an essential role in your general well-being. With good sleep, you’ll feel refreshed and energetic, two qualities that make you more likely to soldier through your lecture notes rather than complain.

The situation’s a bit weird right now, but don’t let that come in between you and your academics! Remember, you’re paying a lot of money to study, and you definitely want to make the most out of probably the last time you’ll be in education. Best of luck!


By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

The words “university” and “smooth-sailing” rarely occur in the same sentence, and it is not just a stereotype. It would be very unlikely, if not nearly impossible, to find a person who can tell you that their higher education flew by without difficulty, especially at a top 10 institute like Lancaster University. Obviously, I am no exception. Despite undergoing two years of a famously rigorous and prestigious pre-university education, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, I still find myself struggling to meet deadlines, failing to understand my notes or walking out of lectures confused. Welcome to your first taste of The University ExperienceTM (albeit one people are less likely to bring up at the dinner table). At the very least, however, I can say there is one thing I have accomplished: I have gained momentum.

Many say motivation is the core of the university student, but I would argue that it is in fact having momentum. While both are essential, I think the latter provides much more of a driving force than the former. Imagine a straight, hilly road with ups and downs, akin to a wavy surface. Now imagine having to cycle from one end to the other. You might see an initially difficult, sweaty trudge uphill but a fast and breezy descent after, carrying you up the next wave, only to be pulled forward by another downhill slope.

If the road is the academic university journey, the ups and downs are the challenges (coursework deadlines) and the bicycle represents progress. Similar to the analogy, it will be hard to get the ball rolling, especially with the first lectures being on the easier side and so many freshers’ events, nights out and society meetings to tempt you. You’ll end up forgetting to do lecture notes, neglecting difficult topics and leaving coursework deadlines till 6am in the morning the day it’s due. You’ll look at your interactive transcript and your eyes will hover over that 43% quiz score, regretting not studying for the one test you know you could’ve easily aced. Once you’ve traversed the initial mountain, however, the story takes a dramatic turn.

It took me a whole term and a half to get it. Catching up was a lot harder because of all the extra weight on my back, but I lumbered on. And while lumbering on, I hit a point where I realised I was becoming increasingly interested in the course material. Getting myself to start on a day of lecture notes became a little easier, and coursework began to be finished earlier. It was puzzling at first, but now I see why: it was my momentum. Harder to achieve than it could have been, but the end results show.

So, from my experience, here are my words of wisdom: Stay focused in class. Start your coursework a little earlier. Love Island can wait an hour. Do your lecture notes after your lectures, preferably on the same week you had them. The allure of staying comfortable at the bottom of the first hill will tempt you, but once you get that momentum going, the breeze will show you that there is no better feeling.

Time management – How to get out of the mess?

By Jojo (Student blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

Have you ever had times when you have so many things going through your mind but you never really know how to accomplish them? Do you like the idea of trying to change yourself for the better and actually completing tasks way before the deadlines? If the answer is yes to these questions then you are looking at the correct blog post.

Managing your time is very important for a university student because we have so many things going on around us! So what can we do? I have found that creating a timetable for your week is an effective way of ensuring that you are making the most out of your week. A timetable will allow you to be precise of the things that you need to do and when to do them. A clear instruction will aid you to not to procrastinate and use the available time wisely.

How to create a good timetable:

Firstly, create a digital table using Excel or Numbers (or you can create one by hand, but this is less environmental friendly) and mark up all your lectures and seminars that you will need to attend on a weekly basis.

Secondly, ask yourself when do you want to start your day and when to finish, i.e. note down the time that you would like to wake up every day and when to go to bed. Trust me, once you decided to stick with this, your daily routine will be formed and you will definitely feel more organized in daily life.

Thirdly (this is the fun part), allocate yourself different activities or exercises for each day. Things could be reading for an hour, playing sports for an hour, or even learning a new language. This way, you will be surprised that the things you have always wanted to do but never ‘had the time’ to do so, could easily be achieved!

So what are you waiting for? University is a perfect time for you to develop your skills. Time management is a crucial skill in all aspects of your life! Moreover, by allocating the time efficiently, you will not only be squeezing out more time than you’d ever imagined (this way you will be able to do more in one day, which accounts for a lot if you think about the long term), but also, you will develop a healthy routine that all the successful individuals are talking about!


What are the differences between you and other students that you always admire? If you want to succeed, act now! And don’t procrastinate!

We’re all in the Same Boat

By Safiya (Student blogger: BA English Literature)

Essentially, it may well be true. Only many of us students may feel that Susane Colasanti’s ‘We’re all sinking in the same boat here’ is far better attributed to us.

For those people who read memes like their Bible, a mental image of the sinking Titanic supported with the violinists solemnly playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ probably flashed in your mind, with absolute havoc ensuing in the background. The qualities attributed to this havoc, however, would be more of students panicking about an upcoming exam, other students rushing to hand in a paper that’s due in an hour while a whole different set of students nonchalantly walk around whilst raving about not having a clue what is even going on.

I, so far, have been all of those students. Allow me to let you in on a not-so-secret secret in order to avoid being part of the havoc: possessing a work-life balance. GASP.

Yeah. Pretty obvious. But no matter how many times you will hear it, actually maintaining a work-life balance will, surprise surprise, make a massive difference. I have yet to abide by several lessons that I have learnt from my experiences, but from what I have conjured so far, these tips will prove to be extremely valuable.

Pay Attention:

Whether it’s a lecture, seminar or lab class that you’ve decided to attend, the bottom line is that you’re there, so you might as well engage with it as best as you can, even if you’re not feeling it. You never know what you may learn, whom you may meet, and you may even surprise yourself with what you discover you can do.

Work on the Commute:

If you’re a commuting student as I am, in the words of Ross Geller, you’ve been ‘given the gift of time.’ Yes, it’s far easier to whip on your headphones and let your imagination run wild, but it’s far more useful to whip out your books, regardless of whether the old lady sitting across from you is judging you for how many pens you’re using to write your notes (true story). You’ll thank yourself later.

Take a Break:

It isn’t selfish to look after yourself. Taking good care of yourself will allow you to also take care of others later on. Work, alongside personal life experiences, can often become overwhelming. It’s not easy to stay away from home and adjust to completely different environments. It will take time to adjust. Look after yourself. Talk to those close to you. Trust the process. You’ll soon start to see your experience blossoming.

Embrace the Cliché:

It’s only after we’ve experienced certain things that the cheesiest and most cliché phrases will be profoundly impactful on us. But don’t shy away from them. Many clichés only exist because many people before you have experienced the exact same thing. You’re never alone in anything, always be conscious of that.


Pray, meditate, whatever tickles your fancy. Ignoring the havoc around you and focusing on your inner self, even if it may only be for five minutes, will relax your internal state in a way that no satisfying video will be able to.

Essentially, we’re always going to have a lot going on. Academically. Professionally. Personally. But we have the power to choose. If you want something, according to the wise words of Nike and, more contemporarily, Shia LaBeouf: Just Do It.


The ABCs of Year 1

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)


Honestly, university is a bitter sweet journey but trust me and a few people I have heard it from, its is all worth it. Starting a new journey or better yet ending one is always hard, and sometimes you wish someone could just tap you on the shoulder and say “hey, it’s going to be okay” or “hey, here are the few challenges you should look out for”. I thought long and hard about what I wanted this blog post to be about, and being a newly second year student, I wish the people before me told me a few things before I started the year.

Always be punctual

Be careful with your circle

Calm down

Don’t trust people too much

Enjoy the ride

Find your thing

Get to know people better

Have more fun

It’s made for you


Keep it 100

Lecturers are very important

Mind your business

Networking is important

Oh my God (OMG)

Put in effort

Question everything

Read and review ahead

Study groups

Talk to your counselor

Utilize facilities

Viral infections are real

Work smart

X– eXcel

You only live once


From the list above, it’s very obvious that first year is a huge roller-coaster ride, and all the extra activities will make it worthwhile. During my first year, I learnt the hard way that punctuality is key, you need to ensure you don’t miss any class or seminars, just so you can stay on top of things. When it comes to being careful with your circle, ensure that you choose the right people to be around. Being calm in year one saves you a whole lot of stress and anxiety.  Being a victim of someone who stole my school work, my best advice would be to never trust anyone. University is hard on its own, but you have to just learn to go through it, sit back and enjoy the ride of being a Lancaster student. Find your thing, as funny as that sounds, it simply means you should find what works best for you and master it. Try to see people beyond the surface, get to know them better – it is not always as it seems.

Have fun!!!!! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Trust that everything in the system is made for you, your course was specifically designed for you to succeed. Jurisprudence simply means that you are answerable to someone, no matter how popular or how proud you get. Lecturers are very important as they give you the tips and tricks on how best to pass your courses. Minding your own business in uni helps you focus more on yourself than others. Building a strong network in uni helps you shape your career path and the people you surround yourself with. You are going to have a lot of OMG moments so brace yourself. As my lecturers always emphasize, it doesn’t hurt to show you care. When in doubt, ask questions. Read and review ahead of every event, it feels good to know what is being talked about. Study groups are a huge help to the learning process, and they aid your participation in class. Talk to your counselor when you have a problem, mental health is really important.

Utilize all facilities and resources made available to you, that is why they are there!!!!! Viral infections are real, keep yourself safe and be careful. Duh… you are here to work hard and smart, it’s the only way you will get that degree. Funny enough, I couldn’t quite get a word that started with “x” but I decided to wing it and go with the slang, eXCEL, in everything you do, try your very best to excel in Uni. YOLO, these years will have some golden moments in your life, cherish them. And lastly, sleep is very important for a healthy mind and body, so get them ZZZZ’s.

I just want to say that Year One is the start of your uni life, and although you might have a pool of emotions, just know that you can do it and that people that have come before you did great and so will you. And I truly hope that you live by some, if not all of these lessons and experiences.








By Jojo (Student blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

What does university mean to you?

Take a minute to think about this question…

Well, when people try to ask me about the university, the first thing jumps to my mind is ‘diversity’. Yeah, universities (especially British universities) are such diverse place that you will likely to have met your friends of life, the love of your life, the colleagues of your life and more!

What does diversity comprise? Races, cultures, ages, personalities, activities, knowledge…

Races and cultures

If you’re expecting to meet people from all sorts of places, then coming to universities is probably the best option, so well done! You will see that the universities in the UK are welcoming rising numbers of international students, in another word, you will meet somebody that is not from the UK!!

Getting to know them will not make you regret, learning about their cultures will widening your horizon BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY you can ‘use’ them when you are travelling abroad.


Is there a limit on learning? No! Please always remember that everyone has the right to pursue their goals to know more about knowledge! Therefore, don’t get shocked when you know your course-mate is your uncle’s age!

Let me share one of my own stories. So my sixth form math teacher, whose literally the best maths teacher you could find on this planet, is now going back to university and studying a new subject at undergraduate level, given that he’s already had one degree and two masters… yeah, your ‘older’ mates could be substantially smarter than you, so don’t you dare judge them!


What makes a good friend? Their personalities, right? Lancaster is packed with people who have wonderful minds, wonderful personalities, as well as the weird ones (yeah, you might want to leave those that are weird), go find people that you are most comfortable to be with!


There are a lot of activities for which you could do, not limited to societies and sports. How about reading a book in the library, if you’re not too busy? Volunteering? Fancy a walk around the campus? Spoiler: the running trail that goes around the campus is a place to begin if you are adventurous and want to try something new!


The university has students and staff that specialise in various areas of study. Knowing your course mates is great, but do also try to find people from different departments – you know that most of knowledge is transferable right?! For instance, I’m doing economics, although I’m pretty good with maths, I’m still trying to get to know as many physics and maths students as possible…

NB: if you’re a LUMS or FST student, then go to MASH if you need help with your maths!


It really wasn’t that bad

By Deji (Student blogger: BSc Marketing)

This week, I was hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok, and flat out deceived. See, I was forced to attend a workshop that is by nature, voluntary. A workshop that, only hours before, I had received an alert of, but decided to mentally, politely decline. It was on ‘types of learners and learning strategies’, and apart from just wanting my ‘institutionally allocated’ free time, I thought, “I’ve been learning just fine, thank you very much”. Yet, there I was, course mates in the same sorry boat sat around me; bright-eyed and hardly-tamed first years sat around us. I got out my pen and notepad, and searched for a spot in the wall that might make the next hour go by quicker.

The coordinator handed out copies of one of those scoring charts that swear they know you more than you could possibly know yourself. This one was called VARK – essentially a list of questions with multiple choice answers that, depending on your choices, would determine what type of learner you are. Possibly more useful than finding out which Avenger or Hannah Montana character you are, I know. My chart decided – not to my surprise – that I am “flexible in communication preferences” (in this case, Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, or Kinaesthetic). Woohoo.

Okay, seriously…though it’s true that experience had already shown me what the chart was saying, it was sort of interesting to see it on paper. When we all had our results, the coordinator took us through each of these learning types, as well as the study habits they explain and some strategies that could help us play to our strength(s). You could see in the room, this small sense of being seen and understood. Students who perhaps might have been struggling with traditional study methods/learning strategies and so on. What I felt though, was reassurance. An affirmation that the overly varying, sometimes semi-questionable learning processes that I use, are valid. I hadn’t previously thought to categorise them, because well, if they work, why bother? Yet, there I was, mmm-ing and ahh-ing at the explanations. I actually felt something gratitude-adjacent.

Now I’m no neurologist, but I suppose the lesson here is, we’re probably better off with even a millimetre of our minds open. Bad joke, forget it, thanks. Anyway, I definitely recommend having a quick look at some learning types/strategies, to try to identify a best fit for you. Whatever year/level you’re in, really.

Well, I’ll be at the next workshop and here’s to an even more illuminating session.

It’s Okay

By Becky (Student blogger: BA Hons History)

University is a big step up for everyone, the first time away from home for many and a step up in workload and responsibility. Even going from first into second into third year and even onto postgraduate study can be very overwhelming, especially for the first few weeks back. Everyone’s university experiences are very different, and it is important to know that having a different experience to your friends, housemates, course mates or family is completely normal. Every experience is unique and important.


It’s okay to… change course and degree. You may join the university and find the difference between it and your expectations a bit too much, but switching modules or courses is possible and an option taken by many to help shape their degree into what you really want it to be. Seeking help from your lecturers and college is a great start to help you settle into the academic side of university.

It’s okay to… not join societies. They aren’t for everyone! Creating your own society is a great idea if you can’t find your interests in one that already exists, but you can still find people who share the same aspirations and hobbies outside of societies. It is always worth trying out taster sessions on offer as you meet some amazing people and do amazing things, but these are not your only options, so put yourself out there!!

It’s okay to… feel homesick. It’s natural. Even as a third year, I still get homesick, sometimes all I want is to talk to my mum. Fresher’s/Welcome week suddenly disappears and the pressure of work and living independently gets to everyone, but you are certainly not alone in this.

It’s okay to… not get on with everyone. It’s impossible to get on with everyone, that’s just a fact. Bridges can be burnt if people make you uncomfortable. Its worth reaching out to societies and your course and flatmates to find people, chances are you’ll meet some friends for life, but don’t be downhearted if this doesn’t happen straight away. You may not meet some of your closest friends until much later on than fresher’s week. There is still plenty of time.

It’s okay to… take a break!!! University is tough, a huge step up with huge responsibility and it’s overwhelming for the vast majority of people. If this happens, just take a step back and remember how far you’ve come to make it to university and how well you are already doing! Watch that series, go for drinks, have a weekend at home, you deserve it!


Your university experience is unique, and can be a difficult way of living to grow into. But just being able to say that you are a student here at Lancaster shows how far you have come, even if the first few weeks are tough.

It’s okay to feel like you don’t fit in with everyone’s expectations and feel different, chances are the people around you feel just the same!


Financial habits I’m taking into 3rd year

By Hannah (Student blogger: BA Hons Advertising and Marketing)

If you know me, I am the person you would least expect to be writing a blog post related to finance at university. Previous shopaholic combined with an expensive taste in coffee, I have definitely been taken in by the sudden surge of financial freedom in the past two years of being at university and have not saved or spent in the best way.

Having just turned 21 however and entering my final year in Lancaster, I’ve decided I need to start taking money seriously. I’m not promising these tips and habits are going to be ground-breaking BUT they definitely will help me, and hopefully some of you, be better at controlling your finances this year.

  1. Use a Monzo card

They’re free and simple to apply for with no additional interest. I’ve recently set up my own Monzo bank account to run alongside my student bank account and it’s probably the best thing I’ve done for my money. Once you’ve signed up they send you a card and you have access to their online banking app which notifies you IMMEDIATLEY every time you spend ANYTHING as well as a total of how much you’ve spent that day: amazing guilt reminder. I like to use it to set limits on my daily or weekly budget. (AND if you convince a friend to download it, you both get £5 for free!)

  1. Instant coffee

I love Caffe-Nero, Costa, Starbucks and all the local cosy coffee shops in Lancaster but I think last year my addiction to store bought coffee got a little out of hand. I’m not saying to cut out your syrupy, frothy (or smooth), amazing barista-made coffee completely but maybe save it for once or twice a week when you can fully enjoy it and not just out of habit or caffeine need. You can also get some really cute reusable coffee cups for those early morning 9ams where instant coffee will do just fine.

  1. Food-shopping

I’m all for collecting nectar points and I love an innocent smoothie (the one on offer of course), but now Lidl has opened in town there’s literally no reason why I wouldn’t choose to cut my food shopping bill SIGNIFICANTLY. Also, I’m going to try shopping little and often to avoid wasting food.

  1. Eating out

If you don’t already have UNIDAYS – download it now! Studentbeans and the student’s union purple card additionally all offer a % off you food bill if you eat out on specific days in some restaurants so choose wisely! I think its important to not deprive yourself of socialising and eating out but being smart about it with discounts is definitely the way forward.

  1. Cut your problem area

This one is my most drastic change in spending, but I’ve decided to do a no-spend-on-clothes until after Christmas. Identify your problem area and COMMIT. Also I found it useful to identify what fuelled my clothes spending and want to cut that too: for example, I’ve stopped watching clothes hauls on YouTube, and planning on walking through town past the shops a lot less.

  1. Multiple income channels

When I was researching how to improve finances and build savings, nearly all the advice blogs and videos mentioned multiplying your income channels: essentially having more than one way of getting money. As well as my student loan and scholarship, I’ve decided to increase my hours at my part time job and am in the process of being a student ambassador. The University always has one off and flexible ways of earning a little extra income so even if its to pay for Christmas presents, plan-ahead and multiply those income channels!

  1. Take a photo, make a list

This is my oldest tip and habit but if you are in a shop and really want something you don’t NEED, take a photo or write it down. Chances are 50% of the time you will forget about it before you even get home. If you can go a week or month and still want it then allow yourself to go back and get it.


All in all I am as much as a beginner at saving, budgeting and financial planning as anyone else but being realistic these are the habits I hope to use at least this term so I can start building savings and not worry every time I pay for something hoping my card isn’t declined! Remember your WHY and REASONS for saving and it makes that Frappuccino or Topshop sale a lot less appealing. At the same time, university gives you a sense of financial freedom so as much as I encourage you to be sensible and plan, be prepared to be realistic and have fun, not obsessing over every last penny.