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Durham University

Durham Centre for Academic Development

Academic Development for Students at Durham University

Coming to Durham University might feel like a big step

We're here to help you thrive

You may have heard that studying at university level is different to what you have experienced so far, and it's true. You'll need to build on the academic skills you have gained so far in your education - and this is where we can help.

You may be coming to Durham straight from school/ college. You may be the first in your family to go to university. You may be returning to study after a while away. Or English may be a second or additional language for you. Whoever you are, we can help you be your best. Please read on to see what we can offer you throughout your time at Durham.

Classes, webinars and resources

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No one's first language is academic English - it's difficult for everyone!

When you make the transition to the university, you may be unsure about a particular type of writing within your department or perhaps you may not know how to use references in your writing. Our academic writing suite is by far the most popular of our nine areas. We have a range of courses including argument and criticality, writing reports and dissertations and of course essays!

Throughout your time here at Durham you will use digital skills in all aspects of your study. This might include learning how to effectively use reference managing softwares or working with statistical data in spreadsheets. The Digital Skills team have developed a comprehensive suite of courses, both class-based and online, to help you develop these sorts of skills.

You may have assignments and projects to complete that require maths and statistics. We offer a personalised drop in service where you can get help on specific questions, and/ or you can attend specific workshops to help you at your points of need.

In your transition to Higher Education, you will need to acquire strong organisational skills. Our suite of courses will help you to be more productive, including classes on developing reading and notetaking strategies, listening more effectively to lectures, managing your time and becoming more organised.

You probably have done presentations at school, but have you ever given an academic presentation? Presentations are a common form of university assessment as it’s important to learn how to communicate ideas effectively. At Durham, you will have access to a range of courses to help you become a more effective communicator both in formal presentations and in seminars.

You have already taken many exams during your schooling, but the jump to university will mean that you will have more information and concepts to revise. We offer a range of workshops to help you to more effectively revise before the exam and to be more successful in the exam itself.

You may have done projects at school, but the jump to university will mean that your projects will be more complex, and you will need to conduct research on your own. We offer a range of workshops on structure, process, writing different chapters/sections and managing your time over the course of a project.

It can be difficult and overwhelming to make the jump to university, and it's really important to look after your wellbeing and health. By teaming up with Counselling, we offer a range of courses to help you to be calmer and more productive. These sessions address common issues such as procrastination, perfectionism, and overcoming writer's block.

Becoming an effective researcher is part of what you will learn during your degree. We offer workshops on researching skills, including using different referencing and notetaking softwares, searching for information efficiently and effectively, and ways to evaluate the information you find.

One-to-one Academic Skills Development

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Academic Writing Consultations are bookable 45-minute appointments to discuss any aspect of your academic writing and are open to all students.

The consultant will tailor your meeting to support you in the best way possible.

Often the consultations will centre on core skills which include:

  • structuring an assignment;

  • synthesis and integration of reading;

  • criticality and writer voice;

  • discipline-appropriate phrasing;

  • academic grammar;

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Whether you are looking to improve your basic maths, prepare for a psychometric test as part of a recruitment process, or develop the digital skills to be able to analyse your data, our Maths and Stats Lab offers workshops, resources and a drop-in service that is open to anyone from any level of study and any department.