Preparing for Academic Success


We understand that the transition to studying in a new culture and language can be challenging.  The following information and activities are to help you prepare for studying with us and to ensure you thrive and achieve your best as you start your next chapter at UU.

  1. Register for our online activities that have been coordinated to help support you in the first few weeks of your studies.
  2. Familiarise yourself with our learning approach, culture and what we mean by academic writing and independent study.

Join our upcoming activities

  • Pre-Arrival Webinars

    You can find out more about travelling to Northern Ireland and also what to expect once you arrive at our information webinars.  You can register for the webinars through the following links.

    Wednesday 28 July 2021 - 10:00 BST  - Today's theme will be accommodation. Meet the ISE team and hear the latest University updates. There will also be the opportunity for you to ask any questions in advance of the meeting or during the webinar.

    Wednesday 11 August 2021 - 15:00 BST - Today's theme will be COVID-19 and living in Northern Ireland.  Meet the ISE team and hear the latest University updates. There will also be the opportunity for you to ask any questions in advance of the meeting or during the webinar.

    Wednesday 25 August 2021 - 10:00 BST - Today's theme will be travel (details about airports and public transport etc). Meet the ISE team and hear the latest University updates. There will also be the opportunity for you to ask any questions in advance of the meeting or during the webinar.

    Wednesday 1 September 2021 - 15:00 BST - Today's theme will be International Orientation.  Meet the ISE team and hear the latest University updates. There will also be the opportunity for you to ask any questions in advance of the meeting or during the webinar.

  • International Orientation 

    International orientation takes place online from Monday 13th September.  Information sessions will be held virtually alongside face-to-face social activities.  We have a full programme of events to help prepare you for success incuding sessions with Student Wellbeing, UUSU, Library Services, Information Services (ISD) and much more.

    You will receive further details and a timetable shortly.

  • In-Sessional English Language Support

    If you are not a native English speaker, you may benefit from our

    These sessions offer practical support and are free to UU registered students. Book a workshop and/or consultation


Familiarise yourself with our academic approach

  • Academic culture

    It may take some time for you to adjust to studying at Ulster University.  Our academic culture might be different to what you have been used to. Overall, the academic culture encourages you to:

    • Work independently, studying on your own for significant periods of time
    • Develop critical judgement, which means an ability to assess whether an argument is coherent and well supported by evidence
    • Depending on your subject, sometimes learn large amounts of factual data
  • Independent study

    You will often work on your own or in small groups with other students to research a topic and produce written work or make a presentation at a seminar.  This is an integral part of your studies at UU.  Independent study will help you to:

    • Develop skills such as critical analysis and problem-solving
    • Develop your research skills
    • Investigate a topic in more detail and develop your own ideas

    Study skills classes are a great way to help you understand what is required for you to succeed.

  • Academic writing

    As part of your studies, you will be required to produce written assignments. You can expect assignments to be set and marked by your tutors on a regular basis. These pieces of written work, often together with examinations, will be used to assess your understanding of course modules.

    Producing academic written work in English can be demanding and will require careful management of your time. There may be differences from how you have done this before in your home country. You can prepare yourself better for writing academic assignments in English if you know what differences to expect.

    To help you prepare and understand what is expected of your written work, please ensure you attend our online session on Academic Writing as part of International Orientation.

  • Understanding course requirements

    It is important to know what you need to do to fulfil your course requirements. By finding out the answers to some of the following questions, you will be able to plan your work and use your time effectively:

    • When writing an essay or assignment, how long should it be?
    • Is a piece of work assessed, or is it for "practice"?
    • What proportion of your marks does an assignment or exam represent?
    • How much work will you have to do, and at what stage in your degree?

    Much of this information may be included in a course handbook. This will be a useful reference throughout your course.

  • Additional resources
    • Prepare for Success which can help you find out what it’s like to study in the UK including videos and quizzes about styles of learning and lots of helpful tips.
    • Prepare to Study and Live in the UK is a short online course designed to prepare international students who have been accepted to study at a UK university.

How you will learn

Typically you will be involved in a series of structured activities:

  • Lectures 

    Lectures are large classes, usually lasting around one hour, where a lecturer talks about a subject and you take notes. On some courses there can be over a hundred students in a lecture. There is usually little or no opportunity to ask questions during the lecture. Lectures are usually intended to:

    • Guide you through the course material by explaining the main points of a topic
    • Introduce new topics for further study or debate
    • Provide the most up-to-date information that may not be included in textbooks

    Taking lecture notes

    When you attend a lecture, you will need to take notes.  Here are some tips on note taking:

    • You don’t need to write down everything the lecturer says – focus on the main points
    • Abbreviations and symbols for common words can help you write faster – but use ones you will understand later
    • If there’s something you don’t understand, make a note to ask after the lecture or in a tutorial
    • Store your notes neatly in a file.  Most students ‘write up’ their notes neatly after a lecture
    • Read through your notes regularly – this will help with revision for exams

    If you are having difficulty understanding the lecturer, it will get easier as you adjust to their style and accent.  If you are not a native English speaker, you might also want to consider additional English language support through our in-sessional English language classes

  • Seminars

    These are smaller classes where you and your fellow students together with your tutor discuss a topic in more detail.  Seminars often last longer than lectures.   You will know in advance what the topic is and the tutor will usually ask some students to prepare a short presentation for discussion.

    Seminars are usually intended to encourage debate about an issue.  You are encouraged to express your opinion and often both tutor and students can disagree on certain points.  The aim of the debate is to help you understand the different arguments and make judgement about their merits.  This process will help you to develop critical judgement.

  • Tutorials

    These are usually smaller meetings with a tutor and a small group of students. They are designed to give you more focused guidance on:

    • A piece of work you are doing
    • A piece of work you have completed
    • A problem you may be having with a topic or with study methods