My Dissertation Journey

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)

If I am to be asked to describe writing a dissertation in a word; adventurous would be that word, especially having done it in the age of our new normal. I cannot begin to explain how bitter sweet the journey has been and if you have made it this far, I give my accolades because you deserve to be applauded and I wish you the very best. That said, I think I want to share my journey and how much fun I have had doing it. I am however glad to inform you that we are seeing the end of this race and there are a few things I have learnt along the way.

Five Hacks to a Smooth Dissertation Experience

  1. Start your dissertation early

I was privileged to have my friends as well as lecturers who through class discussions helped me decide on a topic as early as my last trimester in my second year. That enabled me to narrow my research down to a specific area of study. This advantage motivated my study group to do the same, and eventually we all had a writing timeline in the middle of summer 2020. This was quite challenging, as everyone was in lockdown and we were not mentally motivated to start extensive research, but this gave us the luxury of time to learn and navigate our research at our own pace. Thereby if you start your dissertation early you will have a longer deadline and peace of mind when typing your research paper.

  1. Have a group of accountability partners

Schooling in a pandemic takes time to adjust to, thereby if you are to accomplish a lot, you will need people to constantly hold you accountable and motivate you. It is also exciting when you and your friends turn it into a game of who finishes first and writes best. Take a chance and try it out.

  1. Have a genuine interest in your topic of choice

In order to fully enjoy the process, you must have a passion for it. Year three for me concludes my bachelor’s degree experience and I have been privileged to learn and gain knowledge with some outstanding people. I needed that to translate into my research paper and it felt more fulfilling researching a topic I have had countless academic debates about in class.

  1. Start cross-checking and taking feedback early

One of the best ways to know whether you are doing your work right is to hear it from another perspective. As aforementioned, I am privileged to be in such a good learning environment, and I used that advantage to make sure I was writing my very best. My dissertation writing strategy included: discussing my outline with my friends over a zoom call, cross checking that outline with another friend who graduated a year before me, before delving into the topic with my supervisor and academic services. After getting feedback I adjusted accordingly and repeated the whole cycle again. This also boosted my confidence when writing as I knew my mistakes were being pointed out.

  1. Self-care is key

You can only be the best version of yourself when you are in the best health. So in as much as you are racing against a deadline with added course works and assignment, take time out for yourself. During the course of writing my research paper, there were certain zoom calls that were purposely to relieve stress between my study mates and I, we often talked about movies, frustrations, and shared some needed banter to keep us calm. We even planned a lunch date as a reward for submitting on time and checking off our goals list. The said lunch served as an incentive for us all, and it was fun.

All in all, year three like I said has been quite the adventure, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I do hope that these tips will help motivate you and educate you on the way in which to sail through third year easier. All my best to you and do have fun along the journey.

Balancing Time

Image created by Azizan Anas

By Azizan Anas (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

“Every second is of infinite value” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Time is a special finite resource that can’t be traded or created. Each of us is given an unknown different amount of time. As such, it is important to spend our limited time wisely and qualitatively as we can’t retract and change what has gone. Nowadays, a student has to balance their personal life, their studies, and their work, as well as their social life. With all the distractions and increasing workloads a student obtains as days pass, it is common to struggle when rationing time. This struggle can lead to stress and opportunity cost as deciding which opportunity to do can result in the sacrifice of another. Here are some tips on balancing your time.

Identify and work on your priorities

Some tasks are important and have to be done immediately. These can be assignments as well as your assigned tasks in team projects that are due soon. It is highly recommended to work on important tasks first, ideally starting as soon as you first receive them. Try to work on them each day, no matter how small your progress is. This is to avoid panic and stress from tasks accumulating as a result of procrastinating. After all, small progress is much better than not doing anything at all. In the end, you should have enough time to proofread and check on your work with the ample amount of time you now have at your disposal.

Create a schedule

Start your day by writing down all the tasks you need to do. Then, split them into 3 categories:

  1. Urgent and Important;
  2. Not Urgent but Important;
  3. Less Important.

The idea is to focus on doing things based on their ranking of significance and priority. By doing so, you can have a rough idea of how you need to spend your time each day. This way, you can plan your day ahead in the morning and use the schedule as a point of reference to ensure that you’re on track with what you need to do.

A 55 minutes study session is a great idea, with a 5 minutes break in between (25-5-25 rule). Our brain cannot handle too much information in one go, so it is good to spend some time unwinding like making yourself a cup of tea, stretching your body or doing simple chores.

If you’re on your personal computer every day, consider looking into free ‘To-do list’ widgets such as the one in Microsoft Outlook. This way you can keep track of what you have been doing and whether you have accomplished it or not. Another useful widget to get is a timer app. I am using OnePomodoro, a time-management application that can make you more focused and efficient in doing your job. Personally, this is useful for me as sometimes I lose track of time and since I am always on my laptop, I often get eye strain. The app will send you a reminder to take a break after every work session (25 minutes) and during this time I will move around to help combat my unhealthy sedentary lifestyle and eye strain.

Avoid multi-tasking

Multi-tasking can be tempting, especially to those who have lots of responsibilities, as a way to reduce total time spent. However, not everyone is successful in it resulting in them experiencing more stress and taking a much longer time to finish. Thus, it is better to focus fully on each incomplete task before moving onto another one.

A big no-no of multi-tasking is doing two activities that require your mental focus at the same time. It is not practical to do so as your attention span will constantly jump from one different topic to another, making you unable to maximise your thinking, which could be counter-productive.

Remember your own ‘me’ time

Once in a while, it is common to have your work so piled up that you feel as though you have to use all of your time to finish it. It is a good habit to be so dedicated but sometimes you deserve some time off for yourself! Go out and have fun: go for a walk, have a tea break with a friend, devote some time off to doing your hobby or enjoy watching Netflix.

Striving and pushing yourself for perfection is good, however to be able to do your work with enough time to maintain a proper well-balanced lifestyle is better. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and that’s a reality we have to face. Perfectionism can be harmful if you are pushing yourself beyond your limit. As important as your work is, your health and especially your mental wellbeing during this challenging time should be of the highest priority.

To be productive is something good to strive for. However, this doesn’t mean that you should constantly devote all your time to work/learning. Don’t try to squeeze everything in one go. Don’t try to pressure yourself. Without this realisation, you can overwork yourself and this can affect your performance in the end. Having a proper balanced lifestyle can make you productive without compromising your wellbeing. The key for a successful healthy lifestyle is to be disciplined and make it a habit; that can only be forged by doing it repeatedly and willingly to the point your brain registers the routine as a norm in its system. So, make sure to have your day off so you can be energized next time!


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!

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.







How to get yourself organised for the rest of Lent Term

By Sophia (Student Blogger: BA Hons Religious Studies)

Already feeling like Uni is getting the best of you? Don’t panic, lots of us feel the same way this time of year, so here’s some helpful tips to get you on your way to nailing second term.

Time management:

This is probably the area where students struggle most, it can often feel that one minute you have all the time in the world and the next minute you barely have chance for a break. To nail time management, try to factor into your budget this week purchasing a large wall-mounted academic year planner, a list book, and potentially a diary, unless you find using your phone calendar more useful.

A full term can feel like a long time when in reality the weeks fly by, and you can often be overly optimistic about how much time you have left until the deadlines hit. Mark each deadline on your wall-mounted planner as well as in your diary or phone calendar. This allows you to maintain a healthy-work life balance by scheduling activities in, such as having lunch with your parents, any society commitments such as netball games or socials, and even just nights in to relax on your own or with housemates.

Your list book is where the real magic happens, even when you’re fully aware of what you need to do, it’s often highly intimidating when you have a huge pile of seemingly never-ending reading, researching and writing to get done. Take a two page spread, mark the date in the top left hand corner and write each day of the upcoming week vertically down the first page. Under each day, write down what you have to have done by that day. For example, if you have a seminar on Tuesday for which you need to have read two articles. This allows you to plan your workload chronologically and clearly lays out exactly what needs to be done and by when.

On the second page write down any other tasks you need to do, these can be extracurricular or careers-related tasks, anywhere from updating your CV,  to ordering a food shop. This ensures you don’t forget any of the niggling administrative things you need to get done, and makes sure everything else in your life is ticking along nicely. If you do this for every week, factoring in some time for deadline work alongside work for seminars, workshops or labs, you’ll certainly be busy, but hopefully not blindsided by what you need to get done.


Just like with your list book and diary, everything feels much easier when you have it planned out. If your notes from lectures and seminars are all over the place, it becomes a tremendous task at the end of Lent term to get them in order ready for revision. Take a leaf out of the book of Marie Kondo and get organised! Whether you take notes in paper of electronic form, if your filing system is a mess, you’ll thank yourself later for getting it sorted now.

Paper form: Organise your work into separate wallets for each module, and place them all in one larger folder. Having everything separated into modules will make studying during exam season a breeze. Make sure to put any essays or marked pieces of work for each module in there too, they can be a great revision resource.

Electronic form: Much the same as with paper notes, you need to organise your files into folders. It’s slightly more fun this way, as you can create folders for each module, and then create folders within these folders to separate notes from lectures, seminars and for essay preparation. Also make sure to save electronic versions of submitted coursework in each module folder too. Don’t forget to colour code for extra satisfaction!

Having everything in order, planning well, and keeping a good balance between work and play makes everything seem just that bit more manageable. Try using some of these tips to see how they improve your work ethic this term.

Dreaded deadlines…or are they?

by Sophia (Student Blogger: BA Hons Religious Studies) 

Ah, deadlines. One minute you’re on top of everything, the next minute you’ve got 15 essays, a presentation and 600 pages of reading to do. This may be a slight exaggeration, but assignments certainly can feel like they are impossible to complete when they start mounting up. So how can you spread your time wisely, and make sure your workload doesn’t become a nightmare?

1. Attitude:

We’re going to skip the clichés and start with something a little bit different. If you start by looking at your assignments with an attitude of ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m not going to get it done in time’, this mentality overwhelms you every time you sit down to work. Doing essay work becomes arduous, distressing and seemingly undoable.

So, before you even begin. Rather than panicking about how difficult it’s all going to be, visualise how good you’re going to feel once it’s all finished. Then, bring that closer, visualise how good you’re going to feel when you finish assignment x out of assignments x, y and z.

2) Planning:
As much as we may all wish to have our essays done 8 weeks before they’re due, we’re human and we aren’t perfect. Many advice articles tell you to start early, which yes, in an ideal world you would have done. However, if you’re reading this and your essay is due in two weeks, a week or less than that, that guidance is of no use to you right now.

So, how do you balance multiple assignments in a relatively short period of time? You can start in two ways, I would advise starting with the work that is due first. Working in chronological order avoids the nightmare of having an essay that’s due next Thursday completed to an impeccable standard, without having even looked at the one due on Monday. Your other option, which is slightly more risky, is to start with the assignment you perceive to be easiest. This may enable you to get this one out of the way quickly, and get you on a roll for your other assignments. Use this method with caution, perhaps only if you have quite a bit of time before your work needs to be submitted, or as I will now discuss, when all your assignments are due at the same time.

3) Multitasking:
The problem may be that, while you feel you can start your assignments, you just can’t cope with the sheer number you’re being expected to complete. Say you’ve been assigned 4 essays of 2500 words, all due for the same day. You can’t decide which one to start, and it’s terrifying that such a large amount of work is due at the same time. Starting with the two most difficult assignments may be too overwhelming. So, pick one slightly easier one, and one more difficult one. Only focus on these two essays to start off with, as flitting between four large essays during the space of a day may be too much for you to deal with, and limit the amount of progress you can make on each. For those first two essays, break down exactly what you are intending to do per day in a ‘to do list’, for example:

To do lists:
PPR 252 Seminar reading (10 pages)
Essay 1 (PPR 225) Complete reading A and B for essay, write 100- 200 words on this. (Easy)
Essay 2 (PPR 253) Complete reading A for essay. (Hard)

You can of course ramp up or reduce how much reading and how many words of your assignment you wish to complete, but by breaking it down in this way you have goals for each day that you can tick off. Remember not to overload yourself, if you set unrealistic goals, you’re bound not to reach them, which can be even more disheartening. Also, remember to take regular breaks and don’t expect to be able to work 7 days a week!

4) Avoid distraction, turn off your phone!

5) Staying positive:
You’re likely going to have a few off days here or there, or feel like no matter how perfectly planned out your work is, you just don’t have the energy or the patience to do it. So many students get to this point near deadline week. You have two options, if this is the first wobble you’ve had, drop your work and walk away for 10 minutes. Ring or message a friend, talk it through with them. Have you been overworking? Is your current method ineffective? If you can realistically afford to take a more extended break, perhaps an afternoon off, then do so and start afresh the next day. If you can’t, or maybe if this has been one of many highly stressful outbursts over a short period, it may well be that you are working as best as you can, but it is just taking its toll on you. This is when it is time to approach your department, lecturers, seminar tutors, TA’s or the welfare team. They may be able to help you better manage your workload or clarify something you’re having an issue with.

Final thoughts: Your department is there to help you if you are struggling, but remember that it is entirely possible for you to meet your deadlines. You are allowed to have off days or wobbles, it doesn’t mean you aren’t going to reach your goals, so try not to be too hard on yourself and good luck!