Starting uni? Three things you should know

Three things you should know if you’re just starting out at Uni

Are you just starting out at uni? It can be a bit of a daunting experience so with that in mind, here are three things to help you get by.

TIP 1: Introducing… Studentbeans!

The ultimate student discount website.  As the website says “ is an essential part of student life” – and it really is! is the ultimate student discounting website targeting students of all ages and provides hundreds of offers, discounts, entertainment and all things student related! And what’s more – it’s free!

Their “offers’ section is really useful if you’re short on cash or want to save up, and has a wide range of the latest money-saver deals and discounts for you to choose from. Their “Fun Stuff’ section provides great entertainment and includes:

  • A huge range of entertaining and addictive free online games
  • A regularly updated picture gallery with some of the funniest pics on the web
  • A weird news section
  • Student 101 – advice on love, life, student money and more
  • A ’10 of the best section’ – funny, interesting lists of everything, ever

Studentbeans also has a useful jobs section with all the latest part time jobs for students specially selected by, including weekend jobs and summer jobs. There are also regular volunteering opportunities listed here which are a great way to add to your CV (see ‘Voluntary work for work experience‘ for more details).

So don’t miss out and remember to sign up to for great opportunities, offers, advice and entertainment!

TIP 2: Get to know the difference between  footnotes, references and bibliographies

This is a need-to-know tip that’ll save you a few marks if you get it right.

Why should you reference at all? First of all, it’s useful to know the importance of using referencing in your essay. All academic work will ask you to consider and acknowledge the work of others by using some form of referencing, as this work is someone else’s intellectual property. Using other people’s work without doing this is called plagiarism. By referencing your work, you are making it possible for other people to locate the source you have used.

How you reference very much depends on the task you’ve been asked to complete, but you will be told which referencing systems to use (for example, HARVARD or OXFORD) and if you are unsure you can ask your lecturer/teacher/tutor.

When to reference material:

  • When using a direct quotation
  • When paraphrasing and summarising some else’s idea/theory/data
  • When using specific data – statistics, graphical information (tables, photos and diagrams)

Using quotation marks

If you quote from text substantially (e.g. 2 lines or more), you need to enclose the quote using quotation marks. Longer quotes need to be separated from your text and indented from the left margin (in this case you don’t need to use quotation marks because the source is clearly separated from your text and you identify the author straight afterwards).

If you’re referencing using the Harvard style (which many universities do), this refers to putting the author’s name, the year that the information was published and the page/s the information was printed on in brackets after the quote. The rest of the information is put in the reference list at the end of your work.
E.g. “The quote” (Author’s name, publication date, p.10)

So what’s the difference between footnotes, a bibliography and a references list?

Footnotes are notes (information like name, date, pages and name of book) relating to the text and are placed at the foot of the page. They are mostly used to cite any relevant sources, and are either listed together at the end of a chapter or sometimes at the end of the whole work (sometimes referred to as endnotes). Footnotes are used:

  • When you quote directly
  • To make cross references
  • To state a source
  • As an acknowledgement that you have used someone else’s work.

The Oxford/OSCOLA referencing system uses footnotes.  But not all universities/institutions like you to use footnotes, many use the Harvard system instead – so do check with your tutor/lecturer and find out what your institution’s requirements are.

How to use footnotes:

  • Footnote numbers should always be in superscript numbers, outside of the punctuation mark. They can sometimes be shown in brackets if necessary, like this(1). In this case they should be placed within the punctuation mark.
  • The references should be numbered consecutively (1, 2, 3…)
  • Footnote numbers should always be placed at the end of a sentence, or if necessary in the break of a sentence if there is more than one source used.

The bibliography is found at the end of your work and contains full information about the source material you have used.  This includes any background reading you’ve done – so you may not have cited directly from the sources that you include in your bibliography, or included any ideas or concepts from those sources.

If instead you include a list of references, these are JUST the works you’ve quoted from, cited or used ideas/concepts from.  A reference list does not contain background reading.  Your university/institution will usually specify which they expect.

In the referencing/bibliography list, include the author’s name, publication date, the full name of the book or publication and publishing details.

TIP 3: It’s always the season for snowballing!

It can be hard to find quality source material to use in your essays. A good way to start is by following up references in your course materials. These sources are approved by your university and so will always be reliable material to use!

To find the full text of journal materials, have a look at your university’s online library guide and do a search.  If you find the relevant journal, check the references and follow them up. This is referred to as “snowballing your reading’ and is a great way to find extra source material.

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