Assess your academic skills

Postgraduate Student Orientation
September 2012
What are academic skills?
Complex, interrelated, transferrable
Crucial to being an effective learner
Go hand in hand with academic content
Examples of skills?
Time management and organisation
Do you:
 have strategies to help you plan and organise your
 know how much time you have available for your
 know what makes studying more effective for you
(i.e. when and where you study best)?
 keep a diary or calendar so you know when to
attend lectures and when assignments are due?
Can you:
 select and use different reading strategies (e.g.
skim, scan, in-depth)?
 think about what you need to find out before you
start reading (are you reading to verify facts, to
understand a subject in general or to analyse a
particular argument)?
 critically evaluate reading?
 deal with new vocabulary?
Note making
Can you:
 make effective notes when reading?
 make effective notes when listening (e.g. during
 do you have a way of organising your notes?
Critical thinking
Can you:
 distinguish between fact and opinion?
 draw conclusions based on evidence?
 account for different points of view and detect
 see the wider picture?
 do you know the difference
between description, analysis
and evaluation?
Expressing yourself in public
Can you:
 use strategies to engage and influence your audience?
 express agreement and disagreement while
considering other points of view?
 summarise a discussion?
 structure an argument
properly for presentations?
 use PowerPoint to tell
your story effectively?
Can you:
 express your ideas clearly in written form?
 make an outline of what you are going to write?
 write in clear sentences and paragraphs?
 link your ideas in a logical order?
 use correct grammar?
 develop your own argument?
 identify your audience and write
in an appropriate register?
Quoting and referencing
Do you know:
 when you need to quote directly?
 when you need to reference?
 what it means to plagiarise?
 what the difference between in text references
and footnotes/endnotes is?
 how to construct a reference list?
 what a style guide is?
Library and IT skills
Two key skill areas
Includes finding materials (in print and online),
research and producing documents and email
Support and training is provided through the
Library and IT Services
Where to get more help
Birkbeck Library has a website with books on different academic
skills that links to the catalogue. It is available at:
Academic Development Workshops are available at Birkbeck. More
information can be found at:
There are interactive tutorials to help you develop various skills
available on the Get Ahead Stay Ahead website at:
The Library has an induction tutorial available at: and more general Library
information is available at:
IT Services has workshops and information available at:
Useful texts
Tom Burns & Sandra Sindfield. 2012. Essential Study
Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University,
3rd ed. London: Sage.
Angela Thody. 2006. Writing and Presenting
Research. London: Sage.
Mike Wallace & Alison Wray. 2011. Critical Reading
and Writing for Postgraduates, 2nd ed. London: