At university you will be regularly assessed to ensure that you are on track with your studies. For many disciplines this will take the form of written essays submitted at intervals during teaching. The marks that you receive will form a portion of your final module mark.
You may also be asked to submit unassessed essays. These are graded but do not count towards your final mark; they are used to prepare you for formal exams and consolidate your knowledge.
To ensure that you fully understand topics and are able to perform well during assessments, it is important that you contribute to discussions in your lectures and seminars. You should not be afraid to ask academic staff for help if you are unsure about anything.
In this section you will learn how to tackle your first assessment, use referencing to credit others for their ideas, and receive advice on finding your voice at university.
Your first assessment may seem daunting! Follow these handy tips to help you to produce a successful essay and make the most of feedback from your tutor.
Video - Students talk about how they dealt with their first assessments
When you submit an assignment you will need to show the reader where you have used other people's ideas and words. This is called referencing.
Referencing is a really important academic skill to learn at university. You can lose marks if you don't reference your work correctly, so it's important that you learn how to do it.
In the example below, the author has brought ideas, facts and arguments together from multiple sources to help them to illustrate their point. A reference list at the end of the work shows the full details of all the sources used. Click the references in the example to show their reference type.
The increasing dominance of supermarkets in the UK has significantly contributed towards the decline of traditional grocery stores (Allen, 2009). Smaller, independent stores may find it difficult to compete with the buying power and aggressive tactics used by supermarkets to attract consumers. In Withernsea, for example, a new store offered local residents 40% off vouchers (Walton, 2014). Proudfoot, a long- established local business saw their custom and profits fall by almost 50% within a few months of a major grocery store opening (Competition and markets authority, 2011). Some reports have suggested that this tactic has been used by large supermarkets across the country and have had “…a similar impact on other local businesses” (Gibbs, 2013). These tactics have been called “aggressive and anti- competitive” (Singh, 2013) and it seems that even successful businesses may struggle to compete.
Allen, A.D. 2009. Store wars. London: McGraw.
Competition and Markets Authority. 2011. CMA market investigations. [Online]. [Accessed 12 July 2015]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/competition/markets/cma
Gibbs, B. 2013. The price of your shop: the fall of independents. The Grocer. 53(1), pp.7-12.
Singh, K.A. ed. 2013. Grocery giants: economics, accountability and market domination. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
Walton, G. 2014. New store offers discounts. Withernsea News [Online]. [Accessed 4 March 2015]. Available from: http://www.thewithernseanews.co.uk/newstore
There are different ways of displaying references; the "Leeds Harvard" style of referencing has been used here. The required style of referencing may be different in your department.
Keep a full record of everything you read, this will make it easier and quicker when referencing your assignments. Referencing software, such as EndNote, is available on all University of Leeds computers should you wish to use it.
Referencing the work of others for the first time can be daunting, so make sure that you know about the support available to you. Visit the Skills@Library referencing webpages and look out for the "Flying Start to Referencing" workshop in the Laidlaw Library at the beginning of term.
At university, you are part of an academic community. What you think is important, and you will get many opportunities to express your voice, both in your writing as well as in class.
This might be a new experience for you, so how can you begin to find your voice and use it with confidence in different learning situations at university?