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Preparing for postgraduate study

Preparing for postgraduate study in Higher Education

Embarking on postgraduate study can be a life changing decision, whether immediately after undergraduate study, after a period in work, or as a form of continuing professional or personal development. No matter why you have chosen to enroll upon a postgraduate programme, studying at University can be a fulfilling and beneficial experience. 

However, the core academic skills required can sometimes seem daunting, especially if you're enrolled on a short course or have been out of formal education for a while and need to get up to speed quickly. The videos below are designed to help with this, and are aimed at students preparing for postgraduate study. They introduce Leeds Beckett Library and how to obtain relevant resources from it effectively, as well as outlining how to read critically and how to conduct academic referencing. They are intended to help you develop your core academic skills before you fully begin your course, starting you off one step ahead. 

Links are also provided to sources of help which you will be able to use when you join the University, for example the 24/7 support available from the Library, and the subject-specific support available from the specific Academic Librarian for your particular subject.

Even if you've only recently graduated from your undergraduate course we hope that you will find these pages useful as a reminder of the help and support available to you as you continue your studies.

An introduction to the Library

Leeds Beckett Library offers much more than just books and ebooks. We also provide and support access to print and digital information, databases, statistics, academic journals, online maps, music, videos and much more, as well as offering access to desktop PCs, laptops for loan, IT support, and a range of different study spaces to suit individual learning styles.

Using information ethically: Referencing and avoiding plagiarism

Referencing helps us to use information effectively and ethically, and is therefore a key academic skill. Referencing is how a reader knows where the information, quotations, data, ideas and other non-original material contained in whatever they are reading has come from in the first place. Students are generally expected to provide correctly formatted references in most of their academic assignments. Most courses at Leeds Beckett use a local version of the Harvard Referencing system, which is explained in detail in the university's referencing style guide, Quote Unquote. A shorter version is also available as Quote, Unquote: short guide

Available support

Once you are enrolled with the University, you will have access to a wide range of support in addition to the assistance of your subject tutors.

The Skills for Learning team regularly delivers workshops on all aspects of academic skills, with extensive support material available from their website. If you need help using the Library, for example, finding information for a specific assignment or research project, you can look on the Library's subject-specific support pages. Through these pages you can also contact the Academic Librarian for your specific subject for a one-to-one appointment, while general Library support is also available 24/7 by email, telephone and online chat

Tip: Stand on the shoulders of giants

Isaac Newton once described the process of education and research as "standing on the shoulders of giants," as each and every student and researcher benefits from the accumulated knowledge of everyone who has come before them. Appreciating this and applying it in practice, can be key to successful postgraduate study.

For example, if you find a useful journal article or textbook on the topic you are researching, look up the author online to see what else they have published. Look at their references and footnotes - these could form a ready-made reading list for your topic. Look up who has cited their work since it was published (your subject-specifc Academic Librarian can assist with this).

Once you have found a useful piece of information, you can make it work for you, following the trails from it to other useful information, standing on the shoulders of giants.

General advice

University Which? has some useful general tips on returning to study also offers some advice on returning to education

Similar advice is available from a range of websites. As with any other information, sifting through the available information, reading it critically and then using relevant material to inform your actions is a key skill, in academic practice and also in the wider world.