Tag Archives: essays

Sources of advice about academic writing ***UPDATED!***

Here in Leeds, it’s that time of year when students are either getting a lot of work back, or looking forward to work that’s due soon (mentioning no names, the DISSERTATION). In the last few days and weeks, I’ve spoken to a lot of students about the mechanics of writing, which has led me to put together this list of resources which I have used in the past, or found helpful. I hope to be able to add to it over time too.

Continue reading Sources of advice about academic writing ***UPDATED!***


Dr Barker’s essay checklist

It’s late at night (or possibly early morning), and you’ve just got down the final sentence of your final paragraph of that essay that’s been haunting you for days. And the deadline is tomorrow/later today. Excellent. Job done. Now you’re finished, you can relax…

You probably know by now that’s not the case. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that needs to happen when you finish writing but before you can submit a finished piece of work. The thing is, realistically, you might not have much time between finishing writing and submitting, and sometimes things get shoved to one side and you only remember them when they’ve been circled & underlined and handed back to you by your marker. It’s annoying and frustrating, for both you and your marker. You might well even have lost marks for things that you know you meant to do… Only you never did them. And that’s probably the thing that niggles the most.

I’ll write more about the stages of writing an essay and the importance of giving yourself time to edit in another post, but for now, here is my checklist of things to check before you hand your essay in. It’s divided into two main parts – Content and Style.
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Same difference? History at University after History at School.

Hooray! The results are in, your place is confirmed & you are OFF TO UNIVERSITY! To do history! Yaaayyyy!

The next few weeks will probably pass by in a rush of setting up student bank accounts, arranging logistics with parents or whoever is dropping you off, making sure your accommodation is sorted, going through whatever online hoops your institution of choice has mandated for you – tedious, boring, once-done-never-repeated chores. It’s dull but essential stuff. Hopefully, you will also get to have a bunch of parties as your school pals all disperse in their different directions, into work or to different universities. You probably won’t get much of a chance to think about your degree until well into freshers’ week at the very earliest. Even then, it may well be a few weeks into term before you realise that this is not the history you’re used to. And suddenly, excitement turns to bewilderment, or even panic.

In this post, I’d like to go through some of the main differences between the history you’ll have learnt at school, and the history you will encounter at university. I’m going to talk about the subjects, the approaches and the structures, all of which will be notably different to what you’ve experienced before. I am basing this on my own experiences as a tutor of first years – on what students have said to me over the years, and what I’ve observed in the classroom. I’m also an A Level marker, so I’ve got a good idea about the kinds of history you’ve been doing up to this point. And I’ve talked to a number of secondary school history teachers and students at all levels about their experiences and worries about starting a degree. This isn’t meant to be exhaustive, and of course everyone’s experiences are a bit different, but there are some themes which crop up repeatedly.

Continue reading Same difference? History at University after History at School.