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Tips for international students to help you get started with your studies and make the most of your degree

  • 26 August 2021
  • 5 min read
I am Umme Sumaiyah. I have been an International student in the UK since 2013. I am an International Student Ambassador for UKCISA. I am also the International Student Ambassador for the University of Portsmouth. I am currently completing my PhD and working as a part-time lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. Prior to this, I have completed my LLB and LLM (ICSA)) with the University of Portsmouth.

Here are my tips to learn more about what you should be doing everyday to enhance your grades and make the most of your university degree in the United Kingdom;

1. Do some Research on your subject

At University, you will be expected to explore issues far outside the classroom, from reading newspapers, magazines, to conducting extensive online research. While this can add depth to your work, it is important to remember to keep your focus on what you really need to know: your course syllabus. Early on in your course, pay attention to your core curriculum and read material that is linked to it. When reviewing for final exams, go over your notes again and again to ensure that you have covered all of the relevant material. When it comes to succeeding at a UK institution, your syllabus is your most valuable instrument.

2. Plagiarism Warning

The meaning of this phrase might vary greatly from one country to another. But plagiarism is defined as the act of copying someone else’s ideas or work and presenting them as your own without giving credit to the original source.

When it comes to plagiarism in the United Kingdom, it is treated quite seriously: if you are discovered to be plagiarising you could be disqualified from an exam or an assignment.

If you don’t fully understand what it is – find out!

Look in your student handbook and on the website of your institution for more information. Alternatively, you could consult your personal tutor. Your institution may also provide academic support classes that might assist you in learning how to reference correctly. Plagiarism.org is also a useful resource.

3. Academic writing

When you study at a university in the United Kingdom, you will be required to submit written assignments as part of your course. These pieces of written work, which are frequently combined with tests, will be used to evaluate your performance on your course.

Producing academic written work in English can be time-consuming, and you will need to manage your time well in order to succeed. There may be some changes between how you do things in your own country and how you do it here.

If you need support with your writing at the University of Portsmouth you can get in touch with the Academic Skills Team who are there to help you develop.

4. Making the most of your Lectures

The majority of lectures run more than an hour, so there is a lot to retain. A lot of lectures will provide handouts, but you will need to take your own notes in addition to those provided. This will assist you in maintaining focus during the presentation and will provide you with something to recall later.

However, you should not attempt to jot down everything the lecturer says. Arrive at least 15 minutes before the lecture is scheduled to begin, and make sure to pick up a handout prior. Do not be concerned if you miss a few important points; there will usually be an opportunity at the end of the lecture to ask the lecturer to quickly summarise relevant items.

5. Seminars

In some ways, seminars are similar to being in a classroom, but they are also quite different from what you might be used to at your previous institutions in your home country.

Seminars are intended for students to engage in in-depth discussion of issues covered in the course readings or lectures, and students are expected to participate actively in the discussion.

Occasionally, the tutor will take the lead in the seminar, or they may select students to give short presentations. However, whether or not you are presenting, you will still need to put in some effort before and after the seminar in order to get the most out of it.

Do not be concerned if you are uncomfortable speaking in front of a group of people. The whole objective of seminars is to share ideas and learn what others think, thus there are no “correct” or “wrong” answers in a seminar environment.

Make sure you get involved to get the most out of these seminars!

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