Acing Assessments

At uni, you’ll come across many different assessment types. 

Some uni assessment types will be new, but many will be familiar too. 

Each assessment type has its own rules, or conventions, on how to structure and present your work.

Look out for assessment guidelines or marking criteria that will reflect these conventions and show you what the marker is looking for.  If you don’t know where to find them, ask your tutor or lecturer.

You can also find plenty of online resources to help with assessment conventions, including nailing important academic conventions like referencing.

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At university, you’ll complete a range of different types of assessments, which will vary based on your field of study. Some of these assessment types may be new, but many you will already have practice in. 

Different assessment types come with specific conventions or ways of writing and structuring your work. 

Most university assessments will come with a marking criteria or assessment guidelines, which reflect these conventions and help you to understand what the marker is looking for. 

If you can’t find these documents, you can ask your tutor or lecturer.  

There are additional resources at university and online which can help you further familiarise yourself with the conventions of a particular assessment before you make a start. 

Essays are one of the most common assessment types at uni, so let’s use them as an example. 

Writing an essay involves; researching a topic, formulating a clear thesis statement, organising thoughts and ideas and providing evidence and analysis to support your arguments. 

Essays usually follow a familiar structure. You’ll start with an introductory paragraph, followed by a series of body paragraphs, each with a central argument and finally a concluding paragraph.  

Many assessments will ask you to use and critically reflect on evidence to develop arguments and build on the work of others.  

When writing about ideas or evidence you’ve read, you’ll need to deploy an important academic convention called referencing.   

Referencing acknowledges the source of the materials you use in your writing and ensures honesty and credibility in your writing.  

There are different referencing systems used at university, each with their own sets of rules.  

Remember to build in time when writing your assessments to understand the referencing convention you are expected to use and apply it. 

Being familiar with the different assessment types you will encounter will help you to excel in your university assessments! 

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Audrey – Bachelor of Science (Pathology)

I think the most enjoyable assignments for me as a science student in uni, would be the LAB ones. I do love doing the lab assignments the most because sometimes you’re going to be working in a group, and I find that I’m a very collaborative learner so I do learn a lot more when I’m working in a group of other people. But It’s also just fun. The classes I do, they’re very fun, especially the experiments and I really love doing them. I think something I did to adjust the academic standards between uni and high school was to think that it’s not too different. I think for me I found that it’s not as different from high school as it is in uni. I remember I had this one assignment where it was a biomolecular class and it was worth 8% and essentially all I had to do is just write down every experiment that I did and do a discussion for it, and I thought I found that really close to like a LAB report in chemistry or something like that. It was pretty easy to do, once you think that uni is not as difficult as high school I find that all the assignments, the exams they’re pretty easier to do instead of thinking of them as daunting. A piece of advice I would give to incoming science students is that you’re going to have a lot of fun. I feel like in high school, you’re gonna be doing a lot of different subjects that you’re probably not interested in that much. But once you go into uni and you’re doing something that you actually interested in and that you love I think you’ll find it way easier than high school. I think you’ll have a lot more fun and I really hope you do.


Ethan – Bachelor of Engineering (Honors)/Masters of Biomedical Engineering

A time where I realized that the expectations of University was far more different than those of high school was definitely a time in first year where I had to write out a formal report. There were 2 iterations of this report; a mid-term report and a final report due at the end of the course, at the end of the term. So during the mid-term report, I wrote it as I would in high school, it was a lot more informal because I had a closer relationship with my teachers at the time, so I was able to put small things in there that would make them laugh or something, and ensure a good relationship however that wasn’t really the case for university. So to give specific marks, I got maybe like a 60 for the midterm report, and seeing that and looking at feedback really helped me understand, that oh, this is a different case from high school, and I must really read through the criteria and follow it closely in order to gain a proper understanding of what they expect. And after following that, listening to their feedback, I was able to get a much better result in the final report. So my initial reactions to a unknown or unfamiliar structure or assignment was definitely, “What do I do? How should I go about understanding this assignment?” And strategies I take to fully understand the assignment is definitely, reading through the criteria and trying to understand ‘What do the examiners or what do the markers want?’ And a good strategy to undergo that is ask the marker or lecturer and really try and understand from their perspective what they expect from students and what is the best way we can cater our writing skills to properly achieve that structure. So in order to break down assignment requirements, often along with an assignment, lecturers and markers also hand out a marking criteria. So more importantly than the assignment specifications, looking at the criteria and seeing where marks are allocated, is definitely super helpful in understanding where you want to spend most of your time and what content you really got to be drawing from lecture material in order to answer the assignment to the fullest. And whenever doing an assignment, I always like to ask myself or really frame this sort of mantra when doing my assignment is, try to write your assignment with content that’s ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. So never give yourself some room or the opportunity for the eaxminer or marker to doubt your content and really ask yourself, “if I was in the shoes of the marker, what can I pick out from this answer where I can potentially deduct markers?” So tell yourself, I want my answer to be beyond reasonable doubt, fill out all the crtieria, make sure there’s no room for mistakes.


Julian – Bachelor of Psychology (Honors)

So yeah, when I came into university I definitely realised that I had to adjust my writing style because I really came in really loving my humanities side of my high school subjects. I did 4 unit English and Ancient History and those was easily my favorite subjects. And of course, in English or History, you’re allowed to write a bit more subjective or flowery I suppose. Whereas, with scientific writing, I had done biology and chemistry in high school but even then it’s a bit different in university and there’s absolutely no room for subjectivity and in a lot of ways, you’re reporting about exactly what happened and you can never use words like, you know “They had a massive finding” or something like that, they will pull you up on that straightaway. So for me, my first assignment marks that came back were a bit of a shock because I was just writing in a bit of a bloated way I suppose, whereas you want to be very concise with scientific writing. But the feedback was really comprehensive and I was able to sort of reflect on that and say, ‘Okay I need to be writing a bit more clearer and just focusing on the facts’ instead of trying to you know add more than there is to it I suppose. So I guess the biggest thing that comes to mind when I think about why concise writing in psychology is important, is I guess the idea that if you know something really well you should be able to summarize it in a sentence or two. I’m sure a lot of people have heard the idea of “Can you explain this concept to a five-year-old?” And I’d say it applies really well here, if you’ve just skimmed over a particular reference that you’re using, you’re probably going to spend a whole paragraph just trying to explain that ‘they did this, then they did that’. But if you read it critically and have more deeper understanding, you can probably explain it in a sentence or two and it’s probably going to be a lot more clear and probably going to make a lot more sense than reading through an entire paragraph of scatterbrained ‘I think they did this and I think they did that’ and that also has the really nice unintended benefit of helping with word count too. Very similar to high school, there’s going to be a word count and I’d say in university, 90% of the time people struggled to keep it under rather than struggle to hit the word limit. A lot of the time there’s more that you want to talk about so people will have to trim down a lot of words so being able to write concisely means 1) Saving your word count and 2) Just showing you have a deeper understanding, you’re able to explain things really clearly and really concisely. A strategy for me that really helps with understanding assignments and marking rubrics, is just writing everything down into a word document. So the first thing I do whenever I’m doing an assignment is to have the assignment on one side of my screen, the requirements, and I’ll just have a word doc or something up on the other side of the screen, and I’ll just read through each of the sections and basically summarize it in my own words. You know it might say this assignment requires Xyz and I will just sort of think okay you know “What do I need to accomplish that?” and I just make sure that I summarize it into a more concise way and I’ll do the same thing with the rubric too so it makes this nice little structure document that’s a lot easier to follow than the assignment sheet that they gave you. And I just find that really feel confident in you know I have my head around what’s going on and it also just forces me to properly read the assignment sheet, because if I didn’t take the notes I’d probably just skim through it and say, “Yeah I understand what they’re saying”. But when I take the time to sort of rewrite it down, it really helps me absorb what’s going and and what I need to do, and from there I’ll sort of take those notes and make a little timeline of what I need to do or how I want to structure that particular assignment.


Eamonn – Bachelor of Engineering (Honors) (Software)

I think that university assignments are a little different from high school assignments. For high school assignments, a lot of it is being able to go and show that you kind of meeting the requirements a lot of the tasks and specifications that are set out for you. Whereas for university, a lot of how you can go and personally gain marks is being able to go and show off to your markers that you understand this topic and that you’re motivated and you’re passionate enough to go and pursue the ideas further and to go and do your own sort of learning. For me, I had to go and relearn and rewrite essays for my university experience. I think because engineering is such a practical, focused discipline, that they didn’t want any sort of flair and really like flourishment in all my essays, they really wanted me to go and get really straight to the point. And there’s a huge focus in being able to go and deliver the information as concisely as possible. So I think having to go and relearn that was a bit of a struggle to me, because my entire experience with essays has always just been like just HSC English. So for me, it was like a process, of having to go and find support services, of being able to go and talk to people who had done the course before and being able to go and look at the specific examples that they had provided to go and see how my personal report should have aligned. One tip that I’d go and give to university students to go and understand and get the best mark you possibly can: is to always, always, always, build your entire assignment around the marking criteria.


Saoirse – Bachelor of Arts/Law

One thing that’s really drilled into us in all essays and all faculties, is to make sure that your language is simple. You really just want your marker to understand what you’re saying and you don’t need big fancy words to sort of convey what you’re saying. So I think that you can just build on your high school skills, what you already know, incorporate those terms that you’ve learnt but make sure you keep it simple and just say what you need to say. More often than not, you have a word limit, and so you can talk about whatever your subject might be, maybe you can talk about it forever. I know sometimes when I get really into my essays, I can just keep typing and typing, but it’s really important that you know how to direct your essay arguments and keep them concise so that you can keep it under the word limit. Because you want a short, punchy essay that can really convey what you want. It’s definitely trial and error. One strategy I like to use, is just write out everything I need to say and then I look back again and I cut down what I need to say. Because sometimes when you’re writing you can have that same thought 3 times, written in different ways and so it really just takes you know, writing it out, clarifying what you need to say and then cutting out the rest. I also love using the library for the university, because that page has so many different academic supports. They have resources on what you can write with and sort of reference, they even have like referencing help, which is really, really handy.


Peter – Bachelor of Economics/Computer Science

I’d say confused, I was very confused. The terminology they were using and also the requirements expected. If I remember the assignment well, it was a Computer Science assignment, we had to make an app of some sort and it was in Week 3, which is very very quick, university goes very quickly and so I was very confused and I was like, “Okay, how can we get this done in the 2 weeks we have?” And I sat there, spoke to some friends and then being like, “Okay, what do we do?” And then we went to the tutor and he helped us know what to do. But I find that in university, it can get confusing and overwhelming. So the best thing to do is break it down and try and utilise based on the time frame that you’ve been given. So if it’s 2 weeks, break it down and start figuring out ‘What can you do within those 2 weeks?’ and not trying to get it all done in the one day. So, I remember getting confused, like ‘Okay, I don’t understand this course, how can I do this assignment?’ So I found the best way to not feel like that these recent years has been trying to make sure that before we get an assignment, you’re knowing what the assignment is before you get it. We have this thing in university called a course outline, which actually tells you all the assignments you’re going to get, what they’re going to include, and it’s kind of like a syllabus in high school. And using that, looking at that before term starts gives you a good indication of what the assignments are going to look like when you come to class.


Sweta – Bachelor of Commerce/Law

Coming into university, my writing style was use as many words as possible, use big words to impress the marker, and just write everything that comes to your head. But in university, you’re expected to be concise and be clear with the argument that you’re making. Markers aren’t really impressed if you know big words. So adapting to this new style of writing was difficult, but it was worthwhile. In Law for example, there’s a lot of problem questions that you have to get through, and the structure for it was very different to what I was used to. And I had this one assignment and then the teacher she very specifically said, “Use concise words, that’s what I’m looking for”. So I spent most of my time on that assignment, rewording what I had written, so that it fit that structure, but in time, I’d adjusted by just practicing how to write and looking at past papers and seeing what was the writing style there so I could adjust my words to that. It takes time, but with time you do get better. Adjusting to the new writing standards is difficult, but its not impossible. It does take time and it’s easier once you understand that everyone else around you is also trying to adjust. But looking at examples of what the writing style can look like and the seeing what you might be able to do differently, helps you adjust that. Asking your tutors and your lecturers if they can provide examples also helps.

Uni assessments

“Once you go into Uni… And you’re doing something you love, you find it easier than high school.” – Audrey 

Below are some common assessment types you’ll encounter at uni.

Remember, your university will have online guides explaining how to approach each assessment type – search *your university* essay guide or *your university* lab report guide.

They will also have an academic skills department with experienced staff to coach you on assessments. Check them out before the term/semester starts so you know where to go for help when you need it!

Research, evidence and perspectives

“We’re all in the same boat of being lost, especially with your first assessment” – Tahrima 

In your first year of uni, an understanding of how to use research, evidence and perspectives will help you succeed.

Your uni will have lots of resources and support.

Mastering these skills is a gradual process, not something you can pick up all at once.

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Julian – Bachelor of Psychology (Honors)

A lot of the learning in psychology and the way they assess you is based on the research. It’s the sort of idea of you always have to cite your evidence. So instead of them teaching you ‘This is how this thing works’, they will say ‘There was a study that did this, and showed that this is how this thing works’, so you’re always grounding all of your knowledge in those studies so you have to be able to talk about what they did instead of just the broad concept, which is something that really caught me out in my first exam. So something that definitely comes up a lot more in university than in high school is talking about really referencing your research and researching effectively, which are definitely 2 separate things. So in terms of referencing your research correctly, I guess a simple way to break that down is academia and researching is all about building on other people’s ideas and if you came up with something really cool and then someone else just told someone about it and never credited you, you’d probably be pretty upset. So a lot of it is just about making sure that you’re acknowledging that, “Hey, whilst I’ve brought something new to this conversation, a lot of my ideas were built upon what this person said or what this person said”. Building on from that is really researching effectively, so if you know how to reference things that’s one part of it, but it’s also about being able to read through what someone’s saying and you’ll hear the term ‘critically evaluating things’ a lot which sounds very complicated and scary, but you’re basically just thinking about what they’re writing down instead of just accepting it as facts. So looking through it and saying, “Okay, what’s their point? Could they have done this differently?” Just really thinking about it and making sure you understand it on a bit of a deeper level. And in a high school assignment, you might end up referencing one or two people throughout the whole assignment, but in university pretty much any sentence you say or any paragraph that you say that introduces a new idea, there’s probably, even if you didn’t technically take it from a researcher, there’s probably someone who’s spoken about that in the past, so you’ll have to go and look for that. Pretty much everyone you write you’ll have to think, ‘Okay, what am I grounding this on?” So it’s just a bit more of a sheer volume of understanding you know when you need to reference people and how you’re going to make sure that you’re representing their ideas in a way that isn’t just straight up stealing from them. I think when you come in, they will point you to a lot of different databases and places that you can find all your papers, and it’s genuinely really overwhelming. They’ll say, you know, you can go on ProPsych or PubMed or these places and enter all these key words, and they give you all these crazy techniques for searching with key words and that sort of thing. I’ve found that Google Scholar is absolutely perfect, that’s pretty much all that I use. So the way that Google Scholar works is that you get access to all the papers through your institution, and it’s just a really great search engine like Google. It’s just a search engine but for papers. I find that it’s a lot easier to sort of define what you’re searching for, and it just gives you 5 great like articles right away. And a lot of times you might not be able to access those, but then you just take that article and put it into a more sort of fancy, complicated features and then you’ll have the article ready to go. Peer reviewed research is something that you;ll hear a lot in Psychology and Science. So If you’re a researcher, you might be conducting a study, you find all your results, and you report them, you say “This is what we found”.  And instead of people just being able to publish anything whenever they want, that would essentially just be like a comment section on the internet, it has to be reviewed by other people in the same field to make sure that what they’re saying is true, or they haven’t done anything that’s particularly dodgy. So you might finish a paper and you’ll send it off to a board of 3 or 5 or whatever people, and they’ll read through it and say, you know, “Are they lying in some way? Did they do something really poorly? Is something not explained very well?” And if there’s something they don’t like, they’ll send it back to that person, and say, “Okay, rewrite this”. Like almost like you get feedback from a teacher or something. So when you’re looking at articles, you want them to be peer-reviewed because it’s basically like, it went through a second layer of defense and other people reading it, who are very, very smart, much smarter than you or I, and they’ve said, “Okay, this is a good paper to read.” So it gives you that confidence that what you’re reading is actually, scientifically well put together. In your first year, you’re learning how to correctly format according to psychological papers, and you’re learning how to write correctly and cite things correctly and they sort of throw you in the deep end, but in a really exciting way. Because from straight away, instead of easing you into it, you’re almost writing something that could be evaluated for a paper potentially, probably not to the same degree, but they’re still braodly putting the same standards onto you. So it can feel really cool because you come straight in and you already sort of feel like, ‘Oh, I’m actually doing research’ or ‘I’m actually trying to put something together’ or ‘trying to present something new’ instead of just repeating what has come before it. So that opportunity to have that feeling of you know, critically evaluating things and presenting your own ideas starts up straightaway. And it’s definitely a learning curve. Like it can definitely be quite a few things that you need to learn, but it can have a really nice feeling about it too, as you learn these skills and I just remember, you know, putting together my first assignment and looking at how it was formatted and I was just like “This looks so cool, I’ve pretty much written up a paper”. A much shorter one but it was a really nice feeling.


Tahrima – Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics/Law

For incoming students, I’d say that referencing, research, all that is incredibly different, and I found that especially in doing Law and PPE. So for instance with Law, we have a whole separate citations in Australia, that I never realised and I had no idea, but it’s so specific. So trying to get use to that honestly, and even wrapping my head around it, super hard, but learning from your mistakes, asking for feedback is super duper important. In terms of researching and assignments, especially from my perspective and from my background, it requires a lot more research, especially in the politics and philosophy assignments, just because it is very heavy on your opinion but you need something to support said opinion. Sp definitely doing your research, I find that the best way to approach an assignment for me is to have a detailed plan. Like writing down to the T, which evidence I’m going to use, definitely referencing that throughout the plan. So even just having, okay this quote right here was from this source and just linking it in a comment, that’s it. So I can come back and reference it later. I think something that I’ve definitely learnt along the way whilst doing assignments, is the importance of incorporating theories, which is pretty much just ideas or perspectives that previous really important people have come up with in understanding a particular I guess, political ideal or philosophical idea. So you pretty much use the theory to back up your point. So I might say, you know, “the sky is blue”, why is the sky blue? Because this theorist said that the sky is blue, so it’s really important in politics and philosophy from what I’ve found, to incorporate theories to support your argument, because otherwise your argument is a bit redundant, pretty much.


Saoirse – Bachelor of Arts/Law

The main thing that I wasn’t used to when I was in high school was just making sure that I had really reliable sources. So that meant you had to really seek out specific websites, specific journals and articles, which is something I wasn’t really well acquainted with in high school and so that was a really big change and an expectation in my degree. Also the other thing for research is referencing, that was a really big change as well. Specifically, Arts, there’s a million different ways you can reference and so you just have to work out which one works best and so you just have to work out which one works best with what you’re writing with and your faculty, what it asks. But also for Law, there’s actually a specific like legal citation that you need to learn. And so they were really big differences in expectation. It wasn’t the same as coping and pasting a URL at the bottom of my document or something you know? You really have to reference and make sure you’re using reliable sources. When I first started uni, the way that I would research for my assignments and exams was sort of just get a bunch of sources that you know, kind of match the question and I could pull from each of them. I still do that now, but I think I narrow it down a little more, I sort of plan my assignment before I even start researching, and so I narrow it down to what exactly I want to write about, because usually more often than not, your assignments are gonna be based off what you learned in class and so I sort of look at my class notes first and I think like, “What direction do I want to go with this?” And then that really helps me narrow down the direction of my researching. Because it’s a big task in itself, is researching, like even more so than writing that assignment. So rigorous research is important to my Arts/Law degree and I think to many other degrees as well, because when you’re at university and when you write anything, you sort of need to know what you’re talking about and you need to have things to back up what you’re saying. And that is just drilled into us in Arts all the time because a lot of our essays can be really subjective sometimes. And so having those journals and people and people who can also back up what you wanna say can really, really strengthen your assignment more than anything else, it just helps you strengthen your voice in your assignment. My tip is do your bibliography and your references as you’re going, don’t leave it to the last minute because it is a little bit of a feat in itself. And so getting it done as you’re going, really minimises how big the task actually is and so as soon as you’re finished your first draft, you also have your bibliography done and that is out of the way and so you can just keep reviewing your draft and submit your assignment when you need to. But I think I wish I told myself that in first year because sometimes I was doing my assignments really last minute and I was like, “Oh, I’ll just leave the referencing to the end.” And that wasn’t the best idea. 

  1. Pay attention to your subject outline and subject page: A course or subject outline gives a complete view of all the assessments you’ll do in the course, including instructions, due dates, word count, and weighting. It also outlines the overall structure of the course, learning outcomes, who teaches the subject and their contact details. Each course will also have a dedicated page on your university’s ‘learning management system’ (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.) where your lecturers and tutors will share each week’s topics, reading, lecture slides, extra info on assessments and much more. 
  2. Carefully read instructions & marking criteria: Before starting your assessment, carefully read the instructions and marking criteria to know what to aim for. Assessment instructions will outline requirements like word count, referencing style, formatting, and any other specific guidelines. The marking criteria show you how marks are allocated for different elements of your assessment (eg. ‘research’ might be worth 30% of your marks and correct use of at least 10 sources may be the standard for a high distinction).
  3. Create an outline: Before writing, do some initial research to get a feel for the topic. Create a clear and logical outline for how you want to structure your assessment. For example, if it’s an essay, start with the headings: Introduction, Argument 1, Argument 2 (etc), Conclusion. This will be your roadmap, helping you organise your thoughts and arguments for when you start writing.
  4. Plan your research: Your outline will also help you plan more detailed research. Your ideas help narrow down your search to find relevant credible sources across academic journal articles, books and reports. Taking notes while researching also makes it easy to refer to key information later when you’re writing.
  5. Reach out for clarification: If you’re unsure or have questions about the assessment, don’t hesitate to reach out to your tutor or lecturer for guidance. Your uni will also offer a wide range of academic support services which will offer coaching and assistance with writing, research, referencing and more. Proactively reaching out will help you understand your current assessment and help you better prepare for future assessments. 
  6. Proofread and edit: Before handing in your assessment, take the time to proofread it carefully.  Check that: Your referencing is correct and consistent, formatting is tidy and easy to read (and meets any guidelines you were given), run it through spell check, compare it against the marking criteria – Have you done everything that’s been asked? Pro tip: It’s best to proofread with fresh eyes, so leave it for a day or two before proofreading.
  7. Seek feedback: For most assessments, your tutor or lecturer will provide some feedback with your mark. They’re experts in their fields, so read their insights carefully and use them to build on your strengths and identify areas for improvement for future assessments. If you don’t understand all of the feedback or you’d like more, reach out to them to set a meeting. 


Referencing is an important academic convention at uni.

It acknowledges the sources of information you use in your writing.

You need to provide a reference (or citation) whenever you draw on other people’s ideas, theories, data, and research.

There are different referencing styles, each with specific ways of accurately citing other people’s work.

Make sure you know which referencing style is expected in your assessment and dedicate some time to getting it right (in some assessments, there are marks awarded for correct referencing!)

Common referencing styles you might come across are: 

Your uni will offer resources and examples of different referencing styles.

Referencing is an integral part of academic writing because it serves several important purposes. It helps you to: 

  • Support your arguments: Incorporating and referencing the work of others strengthens your arguments as it demonstrates that your ideas are informed by and connected to existing knowledge. 
  • Be ethical: Referencing compels you to give credit to the authors whose ideas and findings you use in your writing, which is a fundamental aspect of academic integrity and also safeguards against plagiarism. 
  • Back up your claims: By referencing peer-reviewed facts and data, you’re backing up your claims with robust evidence, which makes your writing more trustworthy. 
  • Establish your authority: By demonstrating that you’re familiar with existing literature and have conducted thorough research, referencing can help establish your authority as a writer and researcher in your field. 
  • Verify your claims: By providing information about the sources you draw on, referencing makes it possible for others to verify your claims and check the accuracy of your writing.

Course outlines

Course or subject outlines are one of the most invaluable resources you’ll have at uni!

They can help you decide which subjects to take, but also how to navigate the course once you’re enrolled.

You can find the course outline in your uni’s Student Handbook or on the course page on your uni’s learning management system (e.g. Moodle, Blackboard). 

Select the hotspots on the course outline to find out more about each section and use the arrows to see all three pages.

Course or subject outlines are one of the most invaluable resources you’ll have at uni!

They can help you decide which subjects to take, but also how to navigate the course once you’re enrolled.

You can find the course outline in your uni’s Student Handbook or on the course page on your uni’s learning management system (e.g. Moodle, Blackboard). 

Subject details: This section provides the subject name, code, credit value, and any prerequisites or co-requisites required for enrolment. 

Contact Information: This section provides the names of the lecturer and tutors, and their emails, office locations and consultation hours so you know where to reach them.

Subject Overview: This is a summary of the subject, highlighting its purpose, key topics, and the skills or knowledge you will gain. 

Learning outcomes: This section outlines the specific learning objectives that you are expected to achieve. These outcomes may be related to knowledge, critical thinking, problem-solving, or practical skills. 

Subject content: This section provides an outline of the topics, concepts, or themes that will be covered. It may be formatted as a schedule breaking down which topics, concepts, or themes will be covered each week. 

Assessments: The assessment section outlines all the assessments you’ll be doing in the course, including the types (e.g. essays, reports, exams), due dates, weighting, instructions and where to submit.

Required resources: This section lists the textbooks, equipment, online resources, software, or any other materials that you’ll need for the subject.

Teaching strategies: This section describes how you will engage with the content throughout the course, such as lectures, tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions, group work, or field trips.

Policies and guidelines: This section lays out any policies or guidelines related to attendance, late submissions, word limits academic integrity, or other course-specific rules. These can vary from course to course, or between faculties.  

Researching for assessments

At uni, you’ll need to draw on reliable evidence to back up your writing. There are loads of sources of information on every topic, which can feel overwhelming. Knowing how to sift through it and evaluate each source is important. Your university library, lecturers, tutors, faculties, and academic skills departments will provide guides on how to find sources like journal articles, books, government or business reports, newspaper articles and more. Once you’ve found sources you think you can use, you can evaluate them using the CRAAP test!

The CR

AAP test


The timeliness of the information.


The importance of the information to your context.


The source of the information.


The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content. 


The reason the information exists. 

Source: Blakeslee, Sarah (2004) “The CRAAP Test,” LOEX Quarterly: Vol. 31: No. 3, Article 4. 

Using AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology that is increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives, including uni life.

Like any tool, using AI can be practical and helpful when studying, but it also has important limitations you need to be aware of. It’s best used as an ‘add-on’ to your research and writing process.

Remember, the responsibility for the accuracy and quality of your work lies with you!

Each uni has its own rules and resources on how students can use AI, so make sure you’re familiar with them when you start.

AI can help you study at university by:

Yet at the same time, AI has limitations and implications:

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