Independent Learning


Becoming a successful independent learner is essential if you want to achieve good marks at university. This means taking responsibility for your own workload; being motivated to learn, managing your time and reflecting on your progress.

If you have received lots of support and direction in the past, you might find this increased responsibility difficult to manage at first.

In this section you will find insights into different aspects of independent learning as well as practical advice on making it work for you.


Planning Semester 1

At university you will often study several modules in parallel. Sometimes, this will mean working on different assignments at the same time. Planning your work effectively in this situation will help you to optimise your time and minimise the pressure of working to multiple deadlines.

Video - Students talk about managing their time at university and provide tips about staying focused. View video using Microsoft Stream (link opens in a new window, available for University members only).

You may wish to plot out your semester's work; this could be done using a diary, online calendar or simply by using Post-it notes. Here is an example of what this might look like for three different modules. Different pen colours have been used for each module.

Everyone has their own preferences for how they like to study and their own particular strengths. However, you will find that some of these preferences and strengths will change and develop at university. In this video, some of our students share their tips for helping you to acclimatise to university study in semester 1.

Video - Leeds students share their tips for successful study in semester 1. View video using Microsoft Stream (link opens in a new window, available for University members only).


Getting focused

Working independently means that you have more control over how and when you get your work done.

If you want to be really productive, plan in some deep focus sessions!

  • Set aside some time to study.

  • Decide where you will work. What resources and environment will you need?

  • Set a realistic goal for your study session. What do you want to achieve?

  • Write yourself a reminder of everything you will need for your study session.

  • Break down the goal into small chunks, and decide how long to spend on each.

  • Note down any problems or questions that arise as you go along. Think about how you will address these at the end of the session.


Fitting it all in

Everyone has their own study habits, but you might find that coming to university makes you rethink how you want to work.

Each of the four areas below highlight ideas for staying focused on the activities that matter. Could you get more out of your independent study time?