Academic Skills and Personal Development

Academic Skills and Personal Development Planning

During your time in the University you will be given various opportunities both in your academic work and other activities to develop skills that will be transferable to situations outside academic work and study. You are encouraged to use these opportunities to develop skills such as critical reflection; the ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data retrieval; the ability to identify and solve problems; the ability to present material orally in a clear and effective way; the ability to present written material clearly and appropriately; self-direction; self-discipline … and so on. Your Tutor will encourage you to keep a ‘Bucket CV’ – a physical or online record of achievements and experience in both academic and non-academic spheres.

The process of identifying skills that you might need for your course, your career or other areas of your life, and then looking for opportunities to develop those skills is called personal development planning. You will be able to draw on this report when applying for jobs or future courses. These could be very diverse: being a member of a Committee, participating in sport, voluntary work, and University or College societies.

Your Tutor/Director of Studies will be able to give you more information and guidance. One of the points of Personal Development Planning is that you take responsibility for your own development. You can start to tackle this in three ways: 
 

1. The Careers Service

Make contact with the University Careers Service early on – don’t wait until exams are upon you! The website is www.careers.cam.ac.uk. You’ll also find information about Handshake, an innovative career development platform here: Activate your Handshake account | Careers Service (cam.ac.uk).  
 

2. Your Faculty or Department

Look on your Faculty/Departmental website or Handbook for its transferable skills policy – this will give you an idea of the opportunities that exist for personal development planning.
 

3. The TS website

Use the University Transferable Skills website for PDP templates, ideas of the kinds of skills you might want to develop, and how to find the opportunities to do it: www.skills.cam.ac.uk/undergrads/subjects/
 

Individual Sessions

One-to-one support is available for any student who requires assistance with writing skills, maths support or time management and personal organisation. You should speak to your Director of Studies (DoS) or your Tutor in the first instance before getting in touch with one of the advisors (below).


Writing Advisors in Arts and Humanities

Dr Rebecca Varley-Winter is a writer and researcher, whose area of expertise is Romantic literature to the present. She meets undergraduate and Masters students for one-to-one supervisions that focus on how to improve style, structure, grammar, argument and referencing. Although her own field is English Literature, she can help students from any subject in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Corin Throsby is a researcher, writer and BBC radio presenter. She’s an expert in essay research, planning, structuring and composition. If you’re struggling to let go of the way you wrote in high school, she can help you to develop a first-class Cambridge style. If you’re already an accomplished essayist, she will show you how to take your writing to the next level. She’s available to all students in the Humanities and Social Sciences for one-to-one supervisions; email her directly to make an appointment.


Writing Advisor in Sciences and for International Students / Support for Time Management and Organisation

Dr Jessica Lim is a researcher and undergraduate English supervisor. If you’re struggling with time management, critical reading and note taking skills, or simply wondering what the point of an academic essay is, she will help you figure out principles and skills to re-conceptualise and restructure your time and work.  Jessica also acts as a Writing Advisor for the Sciences and for International students.


Maths Advisor

Bob Dillon is the Physical Natural Sciences Director of Studies at Homerton College. Bob is available for additional Maths support (within any Tripos) on Saturday evenings by prior arrangement. He can be contacted via email or telephone: 01223 747141.


Transkills

If you would like help with writing, note-taking, time management, maths exercises or many other study skills you can also search the Transkills undergraduate Skills Directory at www.skills.cam.ac.uk. Look under ‘Resources for Students’ and your subject and you can find all the relevant Cambridge resources including those from your Faculty, CUSU and Cambridge Online Study Skills (COSS).

Additional Support

If you find you are struggling with your work, please do not hesitate to seek assistance as soon as possible. Speak to your DoS, Tutor, Senior Tutor or a counsellor. Homerton and the University both have a variety of support structures in place to assist you. Even if the support you are seeking is outside of the College, it is important to keep us up to date with your situation.

Library Drop-in Sessions

The Library can offer assistance during staffed hours on a wide variety of topics including iDiscover, ebooks and ejournals, referencing, literature searching and reading recommendations. Students are free to drop in at any time, or if preferred, can make an appointment with a member of staff.  

Subject-specific skills

If there are subject-specific skills you would like to develop further please start by discussing with your Director of Studies.

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