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Study skills and strategies are paramount to your success at Cambridge. More than that, they help you to develop vital life and work skills such as time management, effective note-taking and delivering presentations.

Maximise Your Academic Potential

We want you to get the most out of your academic studies and ultimately the best results you can on your chosen Tripos or Masters course. So we run a special programme, open to all our undergraduate and graduate students, called “Maximise Your Potential” which focuses on the skills, techniques, and approaches you need to perform really well academically. The sessions vary each term as they follow round the pattern of the academic year. 

For example:

  • Searching effectively for dissertation resources
  • How to revise effectively in the run up to exams
  • How statistical tests are used, with all their advantages and limitations.

Once you are a student at Lucy Cavendish, you will be able to view the Programme in detail and sign up to sessions; just ask in the Library for advice on how to do this if you are not sure.

Everyone

There is no such thing as a life without stress and, indeed, we need positive stress to motivate us to achieve.  What does it mean to be stress-hardy?  How can you make an ally of stress rather than letting stress undermine your best efforts?  Recent research on well-being gives us strategies for managing stress, drawing on ‘four pillars’ of well-being.  We will explore the four pillars and you will go away with some very practical strategies to build into your everyday life so that you feel confident about managing the stresses that occur.

Managing your time well is a key academic skill and one which is not always easy to put into practice. This session will help you to develop effective study practices, organise your workload, meet deadlines and generally keep on top of things.

Learn how to manage your time effectively and prioritise your workload so that you can be organised when it comes to revising for and taking exams.

Got to present your project or assignment?  Feeling a little queasy?  Not to worry: everyone in your audience will (usually) be willing you to succeed, and all you have to do is make it easy for them.  So a few thoughts on getting your message across, how to stand up (and sit down), using PowerPoint – or not using PowerPoint, that’s interesting – and generally doing a decent job might brighten up a Saturday morning.  If you’ve already got a presentation (past or future) you’d like to bring with you and perhaps share, please do so, but it’s not compulsory.  And I won’t be making anyone actually stand up and present, guaranteed!

Being able to present online is an essential skill. learn from our experts how to prepare, deliver with confidence and maintain your audience engagement.

Procrastination can sabotage our efforts to do our best work and it often occurs at times when we need it least.  This one-hour seminar will help you understand why you procrastinate and learn practical strategies for overcoming the tendency to procrastinate.  You will learn how to prioritise and motivate yourself to quell the temptation to procrastinate!

Do you find it difficult to raise sensitive issues sometimes? – possibly with other students who have different views than you do, maybe with friends or family, maybe with project teams or even with your supervisor.  Or maybe you find it easy to raise issues, however the conversation doesn’t always go as you had hoped. Being appropriately assertive and having courageous conversations are important life skills.  This one-hour interactive webinar will give you some tools to engage in these tricky conversations with more confidence and ease, making a positive impact and developing adult relationships.

An introduction to the fundamental aspects of essay writing, relevant for all disciplines.

Resilience is a fundamental life skill that enables us not only to bounce back from difficult situations but, even more, to learn from them and develop.  This workshop will help you develop the skills of resilience, especially when facing disappointing or negative situations and feedback.  We will look at both practical strategies for resilience in daily life and the emotional and cognitive aspects of resilience.

This session will introduce reference management software and explain how it can help. New users will get started with Zotero: find out how to create a Zotero library and build a collection of references, how to organise and manage them and how to link your library with Word to allow you to easily add citations to documents.

You can take notes in lots of different ways. This session will introduce some techniques you may not have tried before and look at how to review and organise your notes so you can make the best use of them later.

Posters are often used at meetings and conferences to communicate scientific ideas.  We'll look at what makes a good (and bad!) academic poster and give you lots of tips and resources to ensure your posters are engaging and effective.

Building on our presentation skills session, an opportunity to practice your own presentation and get some valuable feedback.  Bookable time slots to be circulated separately.

A chance to reflect on the past term and think about how it went and what you’d like to do this coming term. We’ll look at scheduling, making time for sport and relaxation, how to balance academic and non-academic time, what strategies have worked for you and also your plans and priorities for the term ahead. Please bring along your diary!

Undergraduates

Exam revision can be approached in lots of different ways; find the method that works best for you! 

Reading lists are your guide through the thousands of books written on your subject but can be daunting at first glance. This session will help you interpret your list, identify different types of resource and enable you to find them in Cambridge libraries.

A chance to reflect on the start of term and think about what you might need to make a success of the rest of the year. An opportunity too to ask those fundamental questions that you missed in Bridging!

PhD

At the start of your PhD, three years can feel like a long time, but it will pass by very quickly! Planning your PhD and making effective use of your time can help you get the most from your studies. This session is full of tips and advice, with time for questions and discussion too.

Find out how to effectively prepare for your viva. The viva can test that the work is your own, by finding out whether you know what is in the dissertation or thesis. Make sure you can identify the key points and defend the weaker ones.

Make sure you're fully prepared to present at your lab meeting with this comprehensive skills course.

MPhil

Managing references is good scholarly practice but you need to be organised from the outset. We will look at what, when and how to reference, the information you need to gather and record, and some tools that will help you do this easily and efficiently.

What are your 95% confidence intervals? Is your result statistically significant at the 1% level? Are you outside two standard deviations from the mean? This session is not going to be about SPSS – it’s easy to type all the data in and press a button – but instead we’ll talk a bit about what all this stuff is actually getting at. That way you can impress your supervisor with a level of statistical understanding that they (and possibly you) didn’t know you possessed. This session is not going to be about SPSS – it’s easy to type all the data in and press a button – but instead we’ll talk a bit about what all this stuff is actually getting at. That way you can impress your supervisor with a level of statistical understanding that they (and possibly you) didn’t know you possessed. Bring an ordinary six-sided dice if you have one; it may come in useful, and it’s something you should have in your bag anyway. And a pocket calculator might be useful, though there’s probably one on your phone.

The MPhil year is a very busy one – there’s a lot happening and the aim of this session is to give you a chance to plan the year, think about what’s next and get the most from your time in College, and at Cambridge.

This short workshop will look at how to chair well, whether a meeting or a talk. We’ll think about what makes a good chair, how to prepare an agenda, handle questions and manage common situations.

The RLF Fellowship scheme places published authors in partner institutions to help students develop good writing practice. This is a chance to meet Lucy Cavendish's RLF Fellow Rebecca Goss, who will outline the support she can provide.

How do you read scholarly literature effectively? This session will introduce critical reading techniques and give you a strategic approach to tackling your reading mountain!

Top tips and helpful advice on how to find your Supervisor

So what happens now? We'll guide you expertly through the next steps.

Subject specific skills

Our Directors of Studies also work with the Student Office to provide additional support to students in their subject areas. This ranges from trips to museums specialising in animal anatomy to talks from experts in specific areas of legal practices. Your Director of Studies can also give you extra help by referring you to one of the College’s additional teaching supports such as the Royal Literary Fund Fellow for help with essay writing or our coaching or academic skills experts for a one-to-one session.

Other study resources

The University has prepared some resources about study skills that you may well find valuable, including “Camguides”.  You can browse the University’s Camguides here.

The CrashCourse channel on YouTube also has helpful information on study skills. You can view the CrashCourse videos on study skills here.

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