Top 4 decisions that helped me enjoy my first 40 days on campus

By Femi Falodun (Student Blogger: MSc Advanced Marketing Management)

The last 40 days have been the most intellectually stimulating period of my life! It has also been the longest period I have spent away from my country and family, but it’s been a wonderful experience overall.

The most interesting thing for me is how surprisingly ‘easy’ and comfortable settling down has been, considering how much I worried before arriving.

I came to Lancaster University with considerable work experience having served as a senior executive at one of Nigeria’s leading communications consultancies. So, I was quite confident about my abilities to cope with the rigorous schedule and workload that one would expect from studying Advanced Marketing Management at one of the UK’s top schools. This notwithstanding, I was a bit worried about the unknown.

While reflecting on my experience so far over the past few weeks, I identified 4 simple decisions I made which have really helped to make my experience so far very pleasant:

1) Being sure that I really wanted this: I have been obsessed with marketing for over a decade and really wanted to study at Lancaster because of the marketing department’s pedigree and reputation. One of contemporary marketing’s leading thinkers, Prof. Mark Ritson speaks often about Lancaster’s marketing department and this got me really interested and to study where he got his undergraduate and doctorate degrees. With the love for the course and school in my heart, waking up everyday to face my tasks never felt like a burden or pain.

2) Planning well to start well: I spent several weeks packing for my trip to Lancaster. I had a spreadsheet with a list of things to buy and what to pack, ensuring that I wouldn’t have any need to go shopping in the first 2 weeks after my arrival, especially considering that I needed to self-isolate for 10 days due to covid-19 travel restrictions. I also chose to live on campus because I wanted the simplicity of not having to commute, plus unlimited round-the-clock access to facilities like the library. I also chose to arrive on campus at least 2 weeks before the start of the term. These decisions enabled me to settle down quickly, comfortably and with confidence.

3) Developing healthy routines: Humans are creatures of habits and developing good habits generally increases productivity. I had learned this from my work experience, so I consciously developed some routines around sleeping, waking up, preparing for class, taking notes, doing readings, eating, cooking, shopping, writing, staying connected to family back home, and so on. The routines have made life quite easy.

4) Staying connected to people: Being isolated and not connected enough to the ‘community’ of students in the class will be one of the quickest ways to fall into struggle-mode. By quickly making friends, helping others and regularly asking for help when I need it, I have been able to stay in tune and in touch with happenings within the department. Things can become overwhelming and confusing at times, however staying in touch with others via group chats, emails, Teams and face-to-face chats will go a long way in ensuring you don’t miss out on important information, updates and even opportunities. This has really helped me, and the idea of connecting with people applies to classmates, flat mates, students from your country, academics, porters, the student union and the programme team.

These are some of the key factors that have helped me settle down and enjoy my first 40 days at Lancaster University.

Adapting to the new world!

By Aditi (Student Blogger: BSc Marketing)

Higher education, as we all know, is an integral part of our lives. After our school is over, we all try our best to get into great universities and colleges. Some of you, like me, might have dreams to go and study in a different country, make new experiences and get exposed to new environments, cultures and ideas. Just like many others, I wanted to go and study in England.

I had these big hopes, big desires, and bigger dreams, and I just wanted to bring them to reality by gaining world-class knowledge and experiences at a good university.

So, my research got me to Lancaster university, the name of which I had never even heard about. Funny enough, but little did I know it was going to be one of the places I dreamt of. It’s not easy to shift to a completely different country, where you hardly know anyone and anything. But, my dreams and hopes got me here to Lancaster.

Initially, it was hard. I am extremely close to my family and living far away from them was a great challenge. In the beginning, everything seems very new and unseen. I’m sure most of you might have felt the same in the initial week but I hope things might have become a little better now.

I read somewhere, “It is so so important to leave your home at your 20s or else you’ll never be able to fully succeed in life”. Profound enough. I think it is so important to finally step out of your comfort zone and move out. This is the only way to reach great heights and become fully independent.

It’s been more than 15 days now in Lancaster, and I’ve already learned so much. Adapting to a different environment and life isn’t easy but it is not impossible either. Here are some ways that helped me adapt better. Making my daily TO-DO lists. I think if you define the tasks for your day, you won’t think about any unwanted thoughts and just focus on those tasks the entire day. It’s the trick to stay busy, because when you stay busy, you think less about being away from your family. This has helped me the most, trust me. Secondly, listening to some motivational podcasts by great speakers or reading a good book helps. It can literally change your entire mood. Thirdly, try to interact with new people around and build friendships. Go out and explore the new city you are in, cook some amazing food that you’ve never cooked, attend your lectures on time and research as much as you can and lastly just remember your ultimate goal for this new life that you’ve chosen. Study and gain as much as you can, make the most out of this golden opportunity, be the best version of yourself and make your parents proud.

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.







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.


Dear Freshers: Make Michaelmas Magical

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

“Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats

Everybody here wanted something more,

Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before

Taylor Swift – Welcome to New York

The thing is, you don’t really know what to expect. Be it the Big Apple or the much smaller Lancaster University, we tend to look through gold-tinted glasses when we arrive somewhere for the first time. This is especially true during pivotal moments of change within our lives, like our first meal alone as an adult, or our first steps into the first room we will live independently in.

During Michaelmas, everything is exciting and seems to lure you in. While the second-and-third-year students trudge through their daily routines, you’re dancing through the North Spine at the thought of finally being able to enjoy a Subway footlong every day. Nights out are crazy adventures with your mates instead of long overdue stress relief outlets, and workshop activities tend to be fun rather than headache-inducing.

I think it’s extremely important to play your cards well during Michaelmas.

Not necessarily right, but well.

I do feel many miss out on making the most of the first term. It’s the term where you have the most time and freedom but when you are also the most malleable. If you take advantage of it, you’ll find yourself growing in ways you won’t be able to forget.

Here is a list of, in my opinion, five most important things to do or start making a habit of during the Michaelmas term:

  1. Attend Welcome/Fresher’s week

Welcome week or Fresher’s week is your golden ticket to a well-rounded taste of university life. You get your course introduction, course facilities tour, orientation and initiation events and best of all: hauls of free stuff. The freebie and society fairs are the best targets, with things ranging from amazon prime trials to bicycle seat covers to GLOW nightclub member cards on the table, up for grabs. In fact, if you play it savvy and hop from event to event (especially your college events), you’ll find there isn’t a need to spend any money on food in the first week due to the opportunities to grab meals at events.

Aside from freebies, the other major benefactor of welcome/fresher’s week is how it helps you settle in. From ‘meet your course-mate’ events and course inductions, you’ll find a few buddies, which does make your first lectures feel a little nicer. Within your block or flat, your fresher’s reps join you on nights out while looking after and having fun with you. This is one of the few times everybody in your block is free, so make use of that to have a good time and get to know each other.

  1. Try talking to people

Like many others, I found myself quite intimidated by the looming idea of being tossed into a sea of new people and being expected to talk to them. However, the monsters turned out to be just trees: during welcome/fresher’s week, nobody knows anybody. People tend to be more open and willing to make conversation because everybody wants to meet new people and make friends. I talked to people in queues, in cafes, at events and made quite a few friends; and it wasn’t as scary as I made it out to be. Give it a go – I promise people won’t hiss at you.

  1. Join a society

Honestly, you might end up not attending all of your societies by 2nd or 3rd term. Nevertheless I still think this is a great idea, as you get to connect with like-minded people, and if you find something you really like, you’ll end up meeting a group of people you can vibe with who might end up being good friends. The first few society meetings tend to be free, so if there’s any time to join one, this is it.

  1. Get the ball rolling (academically)

Go to class. You really don’t want to fall behind or miss out on what are the most basic levels of your course, especially if your course requires a strong foundation. I made the mistake of skipping or not paying attention in a lot of my earlier lectures, and felt the effects later on when challenging coursework came in. It’s surprisingly easier if you take it step-by-step and just remember to keep up with your lecture notes every week.

  1. Learn to adult

Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of home-cooked meals or having your laundry magically do itself anymore. You’re an adult now and you have to learn to do things on your own from cleaning your room to sorting out your finances. Given its introductory nature, Michaelmas is undeniably the best time for you to get a grip of “adulting”. Get to know your way around campus. Learn to cook a few meals – some fancy and some fast. Get the hang of the public transport systems so you don’t get stranded in town one night. Show yourself what you can – and can’t do.

I hope this helps you get a vague idea of a game plan for the first term. Don’t fret if you’ve missed out on a few opportunities- you still have plenty of time and many more to come. Just make sure you’re doing whatever you can, whenever you can, and stay as happy as you can be.

Good luck – and welcome to Lancaster University!

Lectures? Seminars? Get ready with university!

By Jojo (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

Ever wondering what a lecture is like? You might’ve already tried out some during taster days or other events, but you never really tried it for “real”…

At Lancaster, you should expect your lectures to be about 200 students in size, and depending on your course and year of study, your contact hours vary (so if you’re majoring in engineering, then you will have tons of lectures, seminars and laboratory works… Go suffer! Only kidding).

So say myself, an Economics major student. In my first year, I had six hours of economics’ lecture hours in total every week, three for one module, and three for the other. You may enjoy your two hours classes at A-Levels, but trust me, two hour lectures are “not fun”!! Reason is simple – at university, the pace that the content is taught is mind-blowing! It is quite amazing that in the first year of university, we actually learned all of A-Level stuff plus things beyond that within one academic year…So make sure you are prepared to do the work!!

So exactly how are lectures taught? Well, they are just like your ordinary lessons (but a lot bigger in size), except that you may want to listen to the lecturers and make notes of what they said, instead of writing down what’s on the PowerPoint. Firstly, it is a complete waste of time, secondly, you will never have the chance to write everything down on time (you can always look back through the slides and make notes in your own time, or just print them, they will always be on Moodle). Oh! You should also expect that the lecturers will chuck an 85 slides PowerPoint in a two hour lecture 😉

Lancaster is doing something quite interesting with lectures, they actually change lecturers every so often. This is to allow the experts to teach intellectually challenging content to students. For myself, we changed lecturers every six weeks. And the teaching received so far is quite promising, you should expect the lecturers to know “everything”. But also bear in mind, they (university and your department) value your feedback, so if you found their ways of approach are not your favourite, please do tell them and don’t just skive off the lectures, they are very important!

Ok, so we have talked about a 200 student sized lecture, but what about smaller classes, are there any smaller classes? Yes, universities most certainly do…

They are called seminars, a.k.a workshop; tutorial; or sometimes you may see yourself having a clinic (of course, laboratory workshops are slightly different…) I do agree that they are confusing, but they do have the same purposes though — giving you the chance to express your ideas; doing the work required to succeed in your course; giving you the opportunities to ask complex questions to your tutors etc…

It is also the case you may find it easier to make your new “major” friends in seminars (that is, the friends that do the same major as you). These friends can be very helpful, i.e. you may want to study with them, share thoughts, revise together, hanging out etc.

Before you go to the seminars, you are expected to have done all the preparation work, because seminars or workshops are not actually lessons (I thought they were, I was wrong, so I’m telling you right now…), they are a period of time when the tutors assess your understating of the content, as well as helping you when necessary, so they are not teaching you anything new, they are actually discussing the topics with you. So you should see it as opportunities to consolidate your understanding, as well as developing your critical thinking.

That’s it from me! A huge congratulation and welcome for getting into Lancaster. You will not regret of joining this brilliant community, with internationally recognised excellence. And good luck with your future study!!

Bon Courage!! 

Stick at it, it’s worth it in the end

by Caitlin (Student Blogger: BA Hons English Language)

Starting university away from home is tough. Living away from your family and friends you have grown up with, learning to cook and clean, adapting to managing your money carefully, handling the pressure of academia, making new friends and deciding what you want to do in the future if a massive step – but nothing really prepares you.

I struggled in my first term of first year at university, because I was finding balancing everything very challenging and overwhelming. I loved my flatmates, my accommodation, the city and being away from home, because of the sheer independence it brought me. However, I found balancing a part-time job that was difficult to travel to, maintaining a long-distance relationship, spending lots of money on basic essentials (with a tiny loan from student finance) and trying to get my head around my three different courses, challenging.

The primary challenge was the fact my three courses were so diverse, because at Lancaster University you tend to have a major and two minors in first year, to give you a taster of alternative courses. Readings were also a big problem – I found myself with little to no motivation to sit down, read through and make notes on very bland academic readings set by lecturers, which were required to do well in my English course. I also found the independent study very tough – you can choose not to attend lectures and seminars and you can choose to never do a set reading, with support you can choose to reach out to, but is solely up to you to do that.

My advice?

I would recommend organising to see your seminar tutors if you are struggling with aspects of your course, because they go through details you do not understand one to one. This helped me greatly and over Christmas I was still deciding whether or not I should remain at university, whilst attempting to write out three set essays. After receiving brilliant results in my essays in second term, I realised that I could actually ‘do’ university and it was just the overwhelming introduction to so many new things at once that wobbled me. My other advice would be to talk to your flatmates about your worries because they often feel very similar, talk to your course mates to get extra help and support one another, email your tutors for some clarification on parts you are struggling with and be sure to contact your family and friends from home.

I’m now in third year and very glad I decided to stick at it, because I wouldn’t have had all of the opportunities and met all of the great people I have when at university. It gives you the chance to work out what you want to do in the future, find yourself and face challenges you never thought you’d manage to overcome.

Making the transition to university

by Hannah (Student Blogger: BSc Biological Sciences)

When you first arrive at University you’ll probably be bombarded by statements from older students like, “oh I wish I was still in first year” and “ah first year’s the best year at uni”, and it is, in so many ways. That doesn’t mean that second and third, or even fourth, if you’re staying longer, aren’t great. Going into my third year now feels both incredibly daunting as well as comforting and somewhat exciting. Although first year is the best year socially and in terms of your new surroundings, it can also be notoriously difficult if you have feelings of anxiety.

It’s completely natural to feel anxious about starting university and even to feel anxious whilst you’re here. There’s a variety of changes to go through and a lot of pressures you may never even have dealt with before. Finding the perfect balance when you’re thrust into this adult world whilst still feeling like a teenager can be very difficult. Only now going into my final year do I personally feel like I’ve settled into Lancaster and know how to tackle the challenges of the coming year. Truthfully, everyone is different – you may seamlessly transition into life here, or you may find it difficult to adjust to your new-found surroundings.

There’s one thing for certain though, there’s always help available. Looking back, I wish that someone had convinced me to get help sooner rather than later. Whether it’s confidentially talking to a freshers rep, your academic advisor or a counsellor at the Base, talking to someone can always brighten things up. It’s a challenge opening up about certain things, I know, but thankfully you’ll realise that you won’t be going through this alone. Part of the journey of going to university is discovering how you work and what’s best for you. It’s been a hard two years, but I can firmly say that I’ve finally cracked it, academically and socially. Sometimes it really does feel like a rollercoaster of emotions, but the satisfaction of pulling through the other end is great.

From finding ‘friends for life’ to getting that top degree, or even just managing to do your laundry and cook for yourself, there can be a lot of high expectations built on coming to university. My best advice to you would be to not have any when you first come here. Lancaster is a truly fantastic place, but with any university experience, it’s easy to feel the pressure. Take each day as it comes, and don’t get hung up on finding any of the things you thought you would. Lancaster is built on a fantastically eclectic group of people, from a variety of different backgrounds, interested in a multitude of activities. As cliché as it sounds, being yourself really is the best way to be. You’ll find a group of people just like you, who make you happy and have the same interests, helping to make your transition here as smooth as possible.

As soon as you can, head down to the freshers fair and sign up to as many things as possible. Even if you don’t join them officially, attend the taster sessions and meet new people. Get out there as much as you can. Remember to take some time for yourself and to not let everything pile up on top of you at once – you don’t want to feel like you’re drowning. Your Lancaster experience will be what you make it; don’t waste it.


Shopping for academic success

by Melissa (Student Blogger: MA English Literature)

Whether you are just starting, or a confident student approaching your next year of study, purchasing academic materials can often feel like a chore.Nonetheless, it’s a necessary part of most subjects.

What is a reading list?

A reading list is a list of all the books that you might need during your course. You don’t necessarily need to buy all of them, and you might not even need to read all of them! If you are experiencing any confusion over which books you are expected to buy, and those which you can avoid emptying your wallet over, please check out this article on CORE, PRIMARY, and SECONDARY texts – Getting to grips with reading lists

Why is it important to purchase texts over Summer?

Purchasing early in Summer will give you plenty of time to read ahead of your course, thus giving you more time to study at a relaxed pace later, or a few extra nights on the town during term. Early reading also means that you have more time to thoughtfully consider the texts which you will later be expected to argue, explain, and reference. It can be useful to leave reminders in the margins when reading ahead of your course, this way, you won’t forget any essay ideas or questions you have for your seminars.

The First Step to preparing for the next academic year is to find out what texts you will need. The method for achieving this differs between tutors and courses, as some modules do not finalise their chosen texts until the start of the year. If this your case, I advise sending an email inquiring your tutor(s) about which texts you will be safe to buy without worry of them being swapped out by October. Asking about texts shows enthusiasm in your studies, which is sure to please your tutors as well as benefit you.

If you are lucky enough to be in a course which details its reading list in the course description (such as most Literature modules), then congratulations; you have already completed step one!

The Second Step, once you have acquired your list of materials, is time to purchase your texts. Academic books can be expensive and sometimes tutors will ask for specific editions of certain texts, so it is important to spend some time researching your texts.

It is important to note the wealth of free resources available to you as a Lancaster University student before you start buying books. You can login to the student portal to access OneSearch (at the top right of the Moodle home page) which allows you to search for texts you can read for free online through the library, or it will direct you to services such as JSTOR and EBSCO which contain various academic journals for you to peruse. Be wary that you may not need to buy all of your books, and that some older texts may even be available as royalty free pdfs accessible via popular search engines.

High street book shops can be expensive, but useful in a hurry. Our campus bookshop stocks a range of books specifically requested by tutors from the university, so if you find yourself in a tizzy because you left your primary texts by the beach, it might be worth stopping by.

Online stores are good alternatives, especially when buying second hand. Books described as containing notes often function as an echo of seminars gone by, and help me to consider particular passages from new angles outside of university seminars.

Student managed Facebook groups may also be worth searching for, as older students wanting to offload last year’s books may have materials that you can haggle for cheaper prices.

The Final Step is to start reading! Don’t push yourself too hard as it is your summer break. You might choose to leave the heavier texts for later, but any reading is a success and a chance to get ahead of your peers. I advise a cup of tea and a cookie with every chapter!

Getting to grips with reading lists

by Melissa (Student Blogger: MA English Literature)

When approaching your reading list at the beginning of the academic year, you might find yourself in some difficulty comprehending which texts you will be expected to have read completely, and those which only require you to glance over a chapter or two. Of course, all academic reading is good for broadening your mind, but prioritising your reading will help you to manage your time effectively.

To begin with, you need to differentiate which texts are CORE, PRIMARY, and SECONDARY. This is an essential task to complete before buying any of your texts, as these boundaries will determine whether a book is necessary for you to own, or whether you can get by on extracts provided by your tutors.

A CORE TEXT is a text that is deemed essential to your learning. You will probably be expected to write essays on it and will need to read it thoroughly. You should own a copy of any core texts that you will need so that you can make efficient notes on them, and have them ready to reference in seminars. ‘Owning’ a copy of a text counts as either a physical or a virtual copy. You can identify a ‘core text’ as a text which will be used in multiple weeks throughout your course.

A PRIMARY TEXT is similar to a core text, but slightly less important. Where you will almost definitely be expected to write about a core text, you have the option to choose which of your primary texts you will discuss in detail. Your primary texts can be identified as texts that you will likely spend one week on during your course. You are expected to own all primary texts, but you won’t be writing essays on every suggested book, so it’s okay to forego the odd book if you are struggling scheduling your reading time.

A SECONDARY TEXT is rarely necessary to own, and is often as little as a chapter or journal article. Secondary texts can be identified as academic critiques which you will reference in essays to explain, reinforce, or add flavour to your own ideas. They will rarely be the main focus of any week in a course, but often appear at the end of reading lists as suggestions to compliment your primary and core texts. Secondary texts tend to be on the more expensive side of university reading lists, so in most cases, it is best to wait to see if your tutor will provide you with the necessary extracts, or whether the library has any spare copies. Secondary texts are suggestions, and while you will need them, you have more freedom over which ones you decide use in your essays.

DON’T WORRY! Not all courses (Maths) have lengthy reading lists. Some courses, like Philosophy, focus on academic journals and articles rather than reading entire books cover-to-cover. If you do have a long reading list, however, it can be useful to apply these terms to your buying and reading habits. Good luck!