Undergraduates generally find that the ways of working which served them well at school need to evolve to fit the demands of university. Advice begins at Freshers' Week, if not before, but it is important to reflect throughout your degree on how and not just what you are learning.
Oxford does not have a specific department to "teach" study skills – there are many sources of advice within College, from departments and faculties, and from specialist services within the University.
The tutorial system allows for an individually-tailored approach. Tutors are therefore a key resource. All Merton freshers are expected to attend a Survival Skills session arranged by the Senior Tutor and Academic Affairs Representative early in Michaelmas. Merton is piloting a Graduate Mentor Scheme in which current Merton graduates help undergraduates hone their practitioner skills, for example in essay planning and writing.
In addition, subject handbooks should also contain specific guidance on academic good practice and topics such as time management, note taking, referencing, research and library skills, and information literacy.
Specialist support is provided for students with a disability via the Disability Advisory Service and the Counselling Service can offer help with some barriers to academic success, such as procrastination and perfectionism. A collection of links to online study skills resources has been compiled by the Oxford University Students' Union.
Useful links to advice and resource:
Advice on Study Skills and Revision Strategies [Adobe .pdf]
From Reading List to Essay: Brief Notes for Arts Students [Adobe .pdf]
Time Management, Overcoming Procrastination and Stress Management [Adobe .pdf]
Merton Library Study Skills Resources [Adobe .pdf]
Merton Arts and Humanities Revision Strategies [Adobe.pdf]
All undergraduates should be aware of the need to avoid plagiarism in their academic work. Definitions, examples and resources can be found at http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/goodpractice/about.
Merton undergraduates in History, PPE, English, Modern Languages, Medicine and Physics can consult a graduate mentor who will usually be a member of the College and who can advise on study skills, especially those associated with essay writing. In Physics, the mentors can offer extra feedback on the work covered in tutorials and inter-collegiate classes, and help with oral presentations, written project reports, and writing up techniques. Sessions are individual and should focus on work which has already been submitted to tutors. If the mentor judges that progress is being made, further sessions can be arranged.
Undergraduates are free to approach the mentors directly, though tutors may also recommend the scheme as a strategy to strengthen a particular aspect of an undergraduate's work. Contact the JCR Academic Affairs Rep or Senior Tutor for the names of current approved mentors.
As well as the feedback provided in the course of tutorials, tutors make a formal report to the College on undergraduate progress each term. With a few exceptions where teaching is arranged by the Departments, these reports are made using a confidential online reporting system, called OxCORT. Undergraduates can access their own reports by logging on with their Oxford user name and password.
Tutors will usually arrange a meeting at the end of term to review tutorial reports with undergraduates. Once a year report readings, called Warden's Collections, are held with the Warden, relevant Tutors and the Senior Tutor.
The practice examinations, called Collections, taken at the beginning of term provide an opportunity for undergraduates to assess the progress made over the vacation in assimilating the work of the previous term.
The College takes seriously the views of undergraduates and the Senior Tutor makes an annual report with recommendations arising from student feedback to the Warden and Tutors' Committee. Freshers are asked to complete a questionnaire on the induction which they have received and each term all undergraduates have the opportunity to complete an on line questionnaire on the tuition which they have received. Details are circulated by the Academic Administrator and the time taken to complete these is very much appreciated.
JCR representatives are invited to attend many college committees, including the Warden and Tutors' Committee. From time to time focus groups are held on particular topics and the Senior Tutor is always pleased to receive and respond to feedback on any aspect of the College's academic provision.
For any queries relating to Exam Entries, please contact the Academic Administrator. It is the responsibility of individual students themselves to enter for examinations and, thus, make themselves aware of examination entry dates, dates and times of examinations etc. Failure to enter on time can incur a University fine.
If you require any special arrangements for Examinations, permission must be obtained, via the college, from the Proctors. Please contact the Academic Administrator if you think you may be entitled to any special arrangements. This includes permission to use a bilingual dictionary and to take food into examinations for diabetics.
Merton produces a guide for Students Taking University Exams which answers many commonly asked questions. All finalists are expected to attend a Finals Forum in Hilary Term for advice on preparation, staying well, and practical arrangements.
The College recognises excellence amongst its undergraduates with a range of prizes. None of these requires an application from the undergraduate.
Undergraduates placed in the First Class or who obtain a Distinction in the First Public Examination, or whose work is deemed to merit such acknowledgement, will be awarded a prize scholarship, normally an Exhibition worth £140 p.a. in the first instance. Subsequent award of a Postmastership worth £200 p.a. may be made in recognition of sustained excellence, but not normally before the Trinity Term in the second year of studies. Postmasterships and Exhibitions may be renewed if undergraduates have worked to a high standard. Holders of these scholarships are invited to a special dinner in their third year. The scholarships are paid as a credit to battels.
Prizes in the form of book tokens are awarded to undergraduates who have obtained First Class Honours in Final Honour Schools, Honour Moderations, or Distinction in Preliminary Examinations, Law Moderations, or the First BM, or have achieved the standard of Distinction. Prizes may also be awarded for distinguished work in other written examinations, including Collections. A range of subject-specific prizes are also awarded on the basis of academic merit.
Organised by the Oxford Careers Service, the Springboard Programme for undergraduates enables women to take more control over their own lives by helping participants identify the clear, practical and realistic steps that they want to take and develop the skills and confidence to take them. Evidence suggests that women are less likely than men to take this structured approach. The format is tried and tested and has an impeccable track record in an extraordinarily wide range of situations.
The ingredients are: