An Introduction to Academic Skills

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Library for Educators
8 min readFeb 10, 2022


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Learning Outcomes

  • Take responsibility for your own learning
  • Identify your own learning preferences
  • Identify appropriate opportunities for development
  • Reflect on your progress and take appropriate action


First of all, congratulations on starting your BSc Accounting course at The University of Manchester — it’s a great achievement and it’s great to have you here with us!

Alongside developing your knowledge of accounting, enhancing your academic skills will be important throughout your time at university. Academic writing, reading, searching library resources, and using feedback are all important components to succeeding in your studies. To get the most out of your time at university it is important to regularly reflect and work on your academic skills.

The good news is that there are plenty of people who can help you develop and enhance your academic skills. As well as the expert help and advice you will receive from your lecturers, the Library’s award-winning My Learning Essentials team also has a range of online workshops and resources you can use on a variety of academic skills.

Student Tips and Advice

In the videos below, current third-year students Jia Xuen and Nandana share their advice on the academic skills that helped them succeed in their first year.

Listen to the advice from Jia Xuen and Nandana. Take some time to think and reflect on what they have said. Reflect on the following questions:

  • Was there anything that you didn’t expect to hear from students who have already completed first year?
  • Did they share any study tips or strategies that you have not encountered before?
  • Think about how you might incorporate any tips or strategies you found particularly useful in your own study and ways of working.

Why is it important to develop academic skills?

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It goes without saying that developing your academic skills enables you to produce the best version of your academic work. Practising developing these skills will help you to articulate your thoughts, organise your arguments and also adds value to your work. It’s important to understand that academic skills not only cover your more obvious ones like writing skills, presentation skills, but also your time management skills, analytical skills and also critical thinking. These are not only important for your academic work, but also for your professional work.

Developing these skills will help you to get the most out of your university education and help you grow as a university student. As most of you come from different academic backgrounds and different academic curriculums, understanding these academic skills, the core ones, at the beginning of your university journey, will help you to better understand what is expected from university work and help you focus on what you need to improve, what you need to work on, so then you can achieve your academic goals.

Jia Xuen
Hi I am Jia Xuen, a member of the Student team as well as a student from BSc Accounting. One of the most important reasons why academic skills are important is that they help you in excelling in your academic work. Although we all know that the result is not the most important thing in your life, unfortunately it’s still one of the major considerations companies take into account during the recruitment process. Most professional services firms are looking at a second upper and above for their graduate schemes.

Besides that, I also noticed that during the recruitment process, the academic skills I have learnt so far really helped me a lot. For example, the academic writing skills and critical thinking skills helped me greatly in the report writing section in my assessment centre which helped me to score 5 out of 5 criterias. I have used these skills a lot in university, which has benefited me greatly outside university as well. I can also foresee that I would frequently rely on those skills throughout my career as they are life long skills that are easily transferable.

What are some of the techniques and tips you found useful in first year?

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When it comes to academic writing, I think putting in the effort in your first year when it doesn’t necessarily count towards your degree is the best way to develop and cement your writing skills. This means producing the best work that you can for your formative essays so that you’ll be able to get constructive feedback on it, which you can then use to improve your writing. Also, taking the time to fully understand referencing through either online resources on My Learning Essentials and Specialist Library Support that you can attend, or through your career development module is absolutely essential in your first year. Also, time management at the beginning of university can seem a bit of a hassle and it can be really hard to kind of get around it, so attending workshops on time management, reading resources online for it, and also using the Pomodoro technique for studying, which is taking 25 minutes and working on a particular task and taking a 5 minute break and continuing that cycle. It really helped me be relaxed and calm during revision and submission time.

Jia Xuen
I found that time management in general is something that we should put more focus on in university life, as you will now face a lot of deadlines from different courses. I find using a planner really useful (whether it’s physical or electronic), since I can write down important deadlines and plan my time accordingly. This ensures I have enough time for each assignment, which helps to improve the quality of my work.

I would also suggest that in your first year you should try your best to implement different techniques and skills in answering your assignments as advised by your lecturers. This is the best way to know which techniques suit you the best and you should know that 1st year results do not count in your degree so this is the best time to experiment. As an example, I found the 5w and 1h questions which are who, where, when, why and what, and how method suits me the best when approaching essays. This might not work the same for my other friends who did really well in their assignments as well.

How can the Library help in developing your academic skills?

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The Library has multiple resources and people that can help you and guide you in developing your academic skills. The award winning My Learning Essentials programme houses a wide range of interactive online resources on academic writing, presentations, referencing, note-taking and much more that you can easily access on their website. We also have regular drop-ins that you can come with any query you have on different types of academic work.

Jia Xuen
As a BSc Accountancy student, I found that we often have research related assignments such as the foundation of the finance group project in our second year. Beside the resources mentioned by Nandana, the Specialist Learning Support (SLS) program offered by the Library really helped me a lot in those assignments where I improved my information literacy skills and also research skills by learning how to use different databases and extracting information from different sources.

There are also blog posts by the Library and the Library Student Team which focus on different academic skills, such as using feedback and tips on reading and writing, which will be able to help you a lot in your academic studies.

Share your tips and strategies

It is also important to remember the skills that have helped you to succeed in the past. Take some time now to reflect on the study tips and strategies that you have found useful when doing academic work in the past. These can be about managing your time, revision, reading, writing assignments or anything else you can think of!

Activity — Share your own study tips and strategies

In the Padlet below, share the tips and strategies you use that you think other students may find useful. Label these with ‘Tip’ or ‘Strategy’ as appropriate. Helping and teaching others is a really effective way to reinforce your own knowledge and understanding. Look at the Padlet for some examples if you are unsure about what type of things to share.
(To add a new box for your comments click on the + sign in the bottom right corner — label these with ‘Tip’ or ‘Strategy’)
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Take some time to look through the tips other students have shared; you may find something useful that you have not thought of yourself. Learning from other students is a great way to discover new approaches and techniques. If you do find anything useful, make a list of the things you want to try yourself and think about how you can incorporate these into your own ways of working.

My Learning Essentials

Our My Learning Essentials team has a range of resources that can help you develop your academic skills. You can use these online resources whenever you need to!

Resources that Jia Xuen and Nandana think you may find particularly useful in the first few weeks and months can be accessed below. Developing these academic skills will be really important in succeeding in your degree!

Take some time to plan when you will work through the below resources. Whilst working through them, think about the following questions:

  1. What did you learn that did not know before?
  2. What strategies or tips will you incorporate into your own study habits and ways of working?

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Academic Integrity

Citing it right: Introducing referencing

Avoiding plagiarism

Essay Writing

Start to finish: Writing

Royal Literary Fellow — Writing Tutorials

Presentation Skills

Start to finish: Present like a pro

Information Literacy

Start to finish: Searching

Critical Thinking

Being critical: Thinking, reading and writing critically

Collaborative Learning

Essentials Skills for Online Learning

Activity — Share your key learning points

Use the Padlet to share your thoughts on the above questions. Label these with ‘Key Learning Point’.
(To add a new box for your comments click on the + sign in the bottom right corner — label these with the name of the resource you are discussing)
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After adding your own thoughts, read through what other students have shared. Is there something you hadn’t considered yourself that you might think about now?

Question and Answers

If you have any questions about academic skills, add them into the Menti below, and we will record a short video answering as many of those questions as we can. Your questions will be anonymous!
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Contact us

The Library and the My Learning Essentials Team are here for you, so get in touch with us using any of the following methods.

Email us:

Use the ‘Ask a question’ tab at the right side of the page on any Library Subject Guide.

Use Library Chat by going to the Library Website or MyManchester (log in required).



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