How to approach the first assignment?

Ciao ragazzi! 🙂

I’ve been away for quite some time because of some uni-related work I had to finish up.

Today, I want to talk to you about my experience with my first assignment back in October.

In Italy, we are not used to writing assignments or essays, as you know. Our marks for the different courses we take are usually based on a written or oral exam. However, in the UK, you can bet you’ll have to produce an essay or a report.

I would lie if I told you that I wasn’t confused when I had to write my first essay back in the first semester. Indeed, I had no idea what exactly the lecturer was expecting from me. All I knew was that I had to write 3,000 words about one of the topics the lecturer had provided and from which we could choose one.

After asking my classmates for some advice, I also took advantage of the University Learning Skills and Development service, where you have the chance to talk to a professional who talks you through the different stages of the essay-writing process. As far as it was helpful, it is also true that we don’t fully understand what it means to carry out a task until we actually start working on it.

If you like studying in the library, always go to the second floor! You’ll enjoy the best views from there 🙂

So, here follow some tips I feel might be useful for when you’ll have to write your first essay!

  1. Access Surrey Search and write keywords of the topic you will write about. For instance, in my first essay, I had to describe how legacy carriers are fighting back against competition from low-cost airlines. Therefore, in my research, I used words such as “strategy,” “low-cost carriers,” and “legacy carriers.”
  2. Use the menu on the right-hand side to filter the results (you could get up to more than 15,000 results for some keywords!). After filtering the results, start reading the titles of the academic journals Surrey Search provides you. If you think one relates to your topic, open it and read the abstract. These few lines will briefly explain what the article is about. Again, if you think you’ve found the right paper, open it and dive into it!
  3. A tip for those of you who will study management: sometimes the core part of an academic journal can get pretty confusing, with many mathematical formulas. However, it is not always necessary to read a whole paper from abstract to conclusion! The information you’re looking for might be in the introduction or in the analysis discussion!
  4. When you find a piece of information you think might be worth mentioning in your essay, just note it! The best thing to do is to rephrase the concept on a Word document or on a piece of paper (make sure you don’t lose it!)
  5. After you’ve collected relevant information around your topic (30 papers is usually enough, to which one could add some book chapters, videos, or other reliable sources), it’s your turn to show what you have learned!
  6. Essays often vary in layout, but something which should never miss is an introduction and conclusion, where you basically explain what you’re going to talk about and where you summarise the content of your work.

There you go, an elementary and straightforward “to-do list” for when you’ll have to write your first essay! Some people love it, others would prefer exams instead. In the end, it’s a new experience for us Italians, which is definitely worth trying!

All the best to you guys,

Jack 🙂