About Me

Most universities hold a Freshers’ Week or a similar event. Its chief purpose is to help new students settle in quickly. As well as a series of informative talks, there is usually an energetic social programme and senior students will be around to help you to find your feet. Your university will probably send you an information pack ahead of your arrival.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Using cases

Case law is central to answering many (though not all) legal questions – essays or problem based – and it is essential that you are comfortable with using this source.

A large number of students struggle when using cases in their written work. They are not sure why the case must be used, how to use it, what the case is say¬ing and so on. Because of this confusion, the student’s answer is often made worse by the inclusion of case law.

• Learn how to use cases and become familiar with how they are written and structured.
• Read as many cases as possible and become familiar with law reports.
• See how textbooks and articles use cases and acquire that style and those skills.
• Do not rely on lecture notes when providing an account of the case; read the law report, a casebook or, at the very least, a good account of a case in a textbook.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Time management

How to balance study, family, work and leisure

Managing your time effectively is an important key to a fulfilling university career. As a student, you will need to balance the time you devote to study, family, work and social activities. Although you probably have more freedom over these choices than many others, making the necessary decisions is still a challenging task.

Diaries & Student Planners
Use a diary or planner to keep track of your day-to-day schedule (for example, lectures, sports activities) and to note submission deadlines for university work.

Create a detailed timetable of study when you have a big task looming (e.g. before exams, or when there is a large report or literature survey to write up), you could:

- break the task down into smaller parts;
- space these out appropriately;
- schedule important activities for when you generally feel most intellectually active

Wall Planners
These are another way of charting out your activities, with the advantage, like a timetable, that you can see everything in front of you.

Advantages of being organised
If you organise your time well, you will:

- keep on schedule and meet deadlines
- reduce stress caused by a feeling of lack of control over your work schedule
- complete work with less pressure and fulfil your potential
- build your confidence about your ability to cope
- avoid overlapping assignments and having to juggle more than one piece of work at a time

Being organised is especially important for large or long-term tasks because it seems easier to put things off when deadlines seem a long way off.

Friday, 25 September 2009

September – Getting ready to study

Most universities hold a Freshers’ Week or a similar event. Its chief purpose is to help new students settle in quickly. As well as a series of informative talks, there is usually an energetic social programme and senior students will be around to help you to find your feet. Your university will probably send you an information pack ahead of your arrival.

Do read this, because this may be the only time that the information will be given to you and when you arrive at university it will be assumed that you have read and therefore know all this stuff.

Entering or re-entering the learning community of university.
Although, initially, you may cover old ground in lectures, look out for different modes of presentation, terminology and emphases. The lecturer will probably take you further than your previous studies using your ‘old’ knowledge as a foundation for new and potentially different types of learning.

Prioritising tasks
Use the daily ‘To do today’ spaces in this planner to list all the things that need to be done in your academic and personal life so you are in a better position to prioritise and order them through the day.

Reviewing learning skills for university
Make enquiries about inductions or short courses to develop your skills for independent learning at university. Look for information on the university home page on: – IT Support Service for help with word-processing, software packages or keyboard skills. – Library for familiarisation/induction programme and guidance on information literacy. – Learning Support Centre for advice on learning including refresher maths, academic writing or exam techniques

Creating deadlines while building flexibility into your planning
Take into account that you may have more than one assignment due within the same few days. Set yourself a finishing date for each that is ahead of the formal submission deadline. That way you will have the luxury of time to review your work, correct errors and improve the quality of presentation.

Planning ahead for exams
It is never too early to think about how you will be assessed. A key activity is to look at the learning outcomes for your course as the component teaching elements take place. Marking criteria and past exam papers can also help you to get a feel for the standards required.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

June - Thinking about your future

Practical tips for career planning
Use your personal development plan (PDP) process to help you map out your potential career. While the nature of PDP will differ depending on where you are studying, at its heart this process helps you analyse your goals and plan your future, so it overlaps greatly with the career planning process.

Keep your CV up to date.
A professionally presented CV will always be required when you apply for a post, and it is time-consuming to produce this from scratch. Also, it is easy to forget the fine detail that you will need to include in it. While the advice given in is to tailor your CV for every position you apply for, you will find this process easier nif you have a generic version to hand that includes all relevant details. Drafting a CV will put you in a better position to view yourself as a potential employer would, which may help you plan activities to enhance your profile.

Make an appointment to speak to a careers adviser at your Careers Service.
Even though you may have only vague ideas about future options, the adviser will be experienced at helping you to create a shortlist toconsider, and will be able to point you in the direction of tools, such as personality tests, that can help in this process.

Carry out a web search to find out more about suitable occupations.
This requires no commitment on your part and may help you rule out options that do not fit with your goals and aspirations. You may wish to start with the Graduate Prospects site (www.prospects.ac.uk) and move on to specific employers’ bodies or professional bodies, and from there to individual employers.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

May - Practical tips for combating the symptoms of exam anxiety

Sleeplessness. This is commonplace and does little harm in the short term. Get up, have a snack, do some light reading or other work, then return to bed. Avoid caffeine (for example, tea, coffee and cola) for several hours before going to bed.

Lack of appetite/upset tummy. Again, these symptoms are common. Eat what you can, but take sugary sweets into the exam (and/or drinks, if allowed) to keep your energy levels up. If allowed, take some water to avoid dehydration.

Fear of the unknown. Confirm dates and times of exams. Check any paperwork you have been given regarding the format and timing of the exam. Take a mascot or lucky charm with you if this helps. In extreme cases, it might be a good idea to visit the exam room, so you can become familiar with the location.

Worries about timekeeping. Get a reliable alarm clock or a new battery for an old one. Arrange for an alarm phone call. Ask a friend or relative to make sure you are awake and out of bed on time. Make reliable travel arrangements, so that you arrive early.

Blind panic during an exam. To reduce the symptoms, try doing some relaxation exercises (see below) and then return to your paper. If you still feel bad, explain how you feel to an invigilator. Ask to go for a supervised walk outside if this might help. If you have problems with the wording of a specific question, ask to speak to the departmental representative at the exam (if they have left the room, they can be phoned).

Feeling tense. Shut your eyes, take several deep breaths, do some stretching and relaxing muscle movements. During exams, it may be a good idea to do this between questions, and possibly to have a complete rest for a few seconds or so. Prior to exams, try some exercise activity, or escape temporarily from your worries by watching a movie.

April - Exam Strategies

Here are some tips on spotting what is likely to come up in the exam.

1 Past papers. Look at the past papers that have been set on X law over the past few years. Is there an issue that tends, time and time again, to form the basis of a question in the X law exam? If so, be prepared for a question on that issue to come up again.

2 Last year’s paper. Pay particular attention to last year’s paper. Examiners tend not to set the same sort of essay questions two years in a row, so if there was an essay question on last year’s
paper on a particular issue, it’s not likely you will get a similar essay question this year. So preparing for such a question to come up will often be a complete waste of time.

3 Recent developments. Examiners are human beings. When an examiner sits down to write an exam, he can often feel very jaded and uninspired. Lacking in ideas for good essay and problem
questions, he will often turn to recent cases and articles for inspiration. So, in your revision, pay a lot of attention to recent developments in X law.

A case decided in the past year is far more likely to form the basis of a problem question in the exam than a case that was decided five years ago. An article that was published in the past year is far more likely to supply a quote for an essay question than an article that was published five years ago. An issue relating to X Law that has made the newspapers in the past year is far more likely to form the basis of an essay question or a problem question than an issue that was dominating the headlines five years ago.

4 The examiner. If you know who the examiner setting your paper is, then listen out for any hints that she might give in her lectures as to what might be covered in the exam paper and, just as importantly, what won’t be covered in the exam paper. Also try and find out what the examiner has been writing about in the past year or so. It may be that she will draw on her work for ideas for essay or problem questions.

March - How to write better law essays..

Here are a few tips on writing legal essays that you should bear in mind, whether you are writing a descriptive essay or a discursive essay.

1 Express yourself as clearly as possible
A good way of testing whether your essay is clear enough to be understood is this: Imagine a friend has asked you the question that is the subject of theessay. Would your friend be baffled by your response or have to ask you to clarify certain points you have made? If so, your essay is not clear enough and you should rework it.

2 Make your essays easy to follow
Use devices such as headings and numbered points to make it easier for your reader to understand what you are saying

3 Assume that the reader knows enough to have asked the question
Students often wonder in writing legal essays how much knowledge they should assume on the part of the reader. The answer is that you should write your essay on the basis that it will be read by someone who knows just enough to have asked the question which you are answering.

So if you are writing an essay on ‘Compare and contrast the Unfair ContractTerms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999’, in writing your essay you are entitled to assume that your reader has heard of the 1977 Act and the 1999 Regulations, but you should not assume that your reader knows much more than that.