What to expect from a typical assignment
University. It's a brilliant, gleaming opportunity for expanding your mind, meeting new people, living in a cool place, developing skills, and taking part in a sport or society you've never even heard of before. This is what every university website will tell you.
However, what I was more anxious about, was how I would actually progress and succeed through university (and you know, graduate), in my assignments. They're the great foundation of the student experience hiding in plain sight; I've yet to see a cover of a prospectus featuring a student scribbling madly in an exam hall, or proofreading an essay for the zillionth time, surrounded by forgotten cups of tea and scrunched up post-it notes.
They can conjure up a range of emotions but the neat thing about assignments at university is their alignment with your subject and future employability. You often have some autonomy over your topics and approach, all supported throughout by excellent lectures and staff.
So, without further ado, what ARE assignments like at university?
No such thing as typical
Yes. I really should have picked a different blog title.
At university, the type of assignments you'll have will vary depending on your course. Makes sense really - a Business Management student having an assessed placement in a hospital would make as much sense as a Nursing student presenting a marketing plan for a local business.
Across your time as a student you are also likely to get a chance to experience different types of assignments. If you’re a Film Production student, a module on film theory might mean you’re writing an essay unpacking how a particular theory influences filmmakers. However, in a module on post-production, your assignment might need you to produce a film sequence accompanied by your critical reflections.
TOP TIP: Asking lecturers or current students on your chosen course about the different types of assignments you could expect is a super thing to do at Open Days.
Although you'll use the skills and knowledge you've learnt so far, assignments at university are different from school in lots of ways.
When you're at university studying one course intensely, assignments become less of a tick box exercise for the school and more about, well, you.
You will frequently get a lot more say over your assignments; from which blog prompt you choose to answer, to which side of an argument you decide to defend in a presentation, there tends to be scope to follow your interests.
With great power comes great responsibility, namely research and motivation. Whatever your assignment, you can count on needing to put in some serious research to back up your points or ideas. You will need to keep motivated to get your assignments done; it might not be unusual to have a few weeks or even months to produce a piece of work which means you’ll need to plan your time and put the effort in. I know it sounds like a lot BUT a) remember, you’re studying one subject at university which you choose and (hopefully!) you love and b)…
You are not alone
In order to help you with assignments, things at your disposal include:
- Access to relevant facilities: whether that's a lab, a rehearsal space, specialist software or studio. There's also a tonne of great study spaces across campus, from comfy chairs next to big windows to areas with lots of desk space to spread out or work in groups
- Libraries and resources: university libraries are treasure troves. From physical books to thousands and thousands of e-books, journals and databases, the world is your oyster
- Support from lecturers and academic skills staff: at university you can work with academics who are specialists in their field, absolute experts in your subject and who, best of all, are so passionate about helping you soar. From booking a 1:1 tutorial to chat through your ideas for your project to attending a workshop led by our Academic Skills team on how to paraphrase research, there are the tools and opportunities for you to succeed
To graduation and beyond
One of the best ways to think about university assignments is to see them as opportunities to hone the skills and knowledge that will help you be successful in your subject, especially when the time comes to bring those skills and knowledge to the job market.
The placement you can reflect on in a job interview, or the research and presentation skills you can lay claim to in a cover letter can all come from the efforts you put into your assignments. You did the work, so shout about it!
Written by University of Winchester graduate, Savannah.
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