Language and academic skills support

Refine your writing, get help and understand what’s expected of you during your studies.

Improve your English for academic study

If you are a full-time international or overseas student, or English is an additional language, you can take advantage of tutorials and workshops run by English Language for Academic Study.

If you’re a Visiting and Exchange student, you can also take full-time English language modules throughout the autumn and spring terms.

If English is your first language, you can have one-to-one tutorials with a professional author of literary merit. They help with aspects of the writing process – from planning to drafting, constructing an argument and editing.

Understand UK academic culture

It may take time to adjust to studying in the UK. Some students are surprised by the lack of formality around campus, particularly in classes – for example, many staff are happy to be called by their first name.

Academic culture and expectations vary according to the subject and the level of study.

You’ll generally be expected to:

  • work independently, studying on your own outside of class
  • develop critical judgment, which means an ability to assess whether an argument is coherent and well supported by evidence
  • learn in a variety of ways – some subjects involve learning large amounts of factual data while in others a critical approach is considered more important.

Your course syllabus should outline what’s required of you for each piece of work.

Check Sussex Direct for your course deadlines. These are strictly enforced at Sussex.

Lectures

Many lecturers provide an outline of their lectures in a hand-out or on Canvas. Read this in advance. It’s helpful to have a copy during the session.

You need to make notes but you don’t need to write every word. Many lectures are recorded so you can listen again.

If there is something you don’t understand, make a note to ask after the lecture or during a seminar where discussion is encouraged.

All lecturers have a different style. It might take time and practice to get used to someone’s style. This will get easier as your vocabulary improves.

Seminars

Seminars are smaller sessions where contributing your ideas and discussing them with your tutor and other students is encouraged.

Make notes before the seminar of any points you would like to discuss.

Seminars can be challenging if you are not used to them. Don’t worry, many other students initially feel the same. Try to contribute, even if it seems difficult at first.

Reading

On most courses you get a reading list. You’re not expected to buy or read every item on the list but your tutor will highlight the things you must prioritise.

It can help to set up a reading group to discuss readings before a lecture or seminar. This will give you confidence that you have understood the concepts and ideas, and help you practise speaking about them.

Find out more through academic English workshops in the autumn and spring terms.

Sources of support

If you are having difficulty with your studies, discuss this with your Academic Advisor or course convenor.

If your problem relates to a specific module, speak to your course tutor. All tutors have designated times when they are available to see you. If you can’t make these times, email them.

Seek advice early rather than wait for a problem to become serious; there is usually a solution.

More help

You can also get support from:

  • advisors in the Student Life Centre, who can discuss more general problems, either personal or related to study skills, that may affect your work
  • the Student Support Unit, who can advise on specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, and put any necessary reasonable adjustments in place
  • Skills Hub, where there are a range of guides
  • Student Mentors, who are already studying in your School and can advise you on your work.

Academic integrity and good practice

It’s important that the work you submit is your own and meets our academic integrity standards. These may be different to previous places you studied.

Academic misconduct

If you understand our standards, you’re unlikely to be investigated for plagiarism, collusion or other types of misconduct.

If your work is investigated for possible academic misconduct, speak to your academic adviser or course convenor.

You can also get impartial advice from the Support and Advocacy Team in the Students’ Union.

More language opportunities

There are other ways to learn a language on campus.

Language Café

You can practise any language, and help others speak your language, at the Language Café run by the Students’ Union. This is also a good way to socialise.

Open Courses

If you want to learn another language, you can take a non-accredited Open Course.