2020 will certainly be remembered as the year when normal life came to a crashing halt. The plans you made at the start of the year may well have been disrupted. Perhaps you were set to go travelling after your exams or get a temporary job to bring in some much-needed extra cash?
Amidst the disappointments and anxieties of 2020, one positive we can take is surely the gift of some unexpected, and rare, free time? Whether you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate, research or returning placement student, if you have some spare time on your hands this summer and are wondering what to do, perhaps now could be the perfect opportunity to look ahead and develop some of your skills.
Here are the Skills Centre’s top 10 suggestions for sharpening up your skills this summer.
1. Develop your writing skills
The Academic Skills blog has lots of posts and videos on all aspects of academic writing, covering topics like how to get started on your essay or dissertation, how to write concisely, how to make your writing flow and how to take notes effectively. You can also check out our other skills resources in MySkills.
2. Refine your academic skills
In addition to writing, the Academic Skills blog covers a range of other key academic skills, including:
- academic reading
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- understanding feedback
- communicating with your tutor.
There are more skills resources listed on MySkills, including advice for students studying online. The Academic Skills Handbook, written by two of our course leaders, is an essential resource for all new and returning students and includes everything you need to know to build your confidence and help you get ahead with your studies.
3. Become an ethical scholar
It may be a while since you took the University’s mandatory Academic Integrity Initiative Test, so now is the perfect time to remind yourself about the important rules of referencing and avoiding plagiarism. Read our blog on how to be an ethical scholar, work through the Skills for Study e-learning modules on 'Referencing and Understanding Plagiarism', 'Critical Thinking' and 'Reading and Note-making' and look at the Cite them Right referencing database to help you give proper credit to any source used in your work.
4. Boost your group working skills
Team-working is a fundamental skill in the workplace as well as at University and is an important one to keep up when you’re studying virtually. Take a look at our Five steps to effective group working blog and the Work Well in Groups Super Quick Skills guide produced by two of our course leaders.
5. Start learning a foreign language
Having some foreign language skills up your sleeve will give you an edge in what looks set to be a competitive job market in the years ahead. Before you sign up for our autumn language classes, dip into some of the following online resources recommended by our tutors:
- Italian: learn Italian with Lucrezia - blogs and YouTube channel. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
- French: to brush up on your French, choose from a selection of activities, from listening and reading comprehension, to vocab and grammar, culture and pronunciation (select A1, A2, B1 or B2 levels).
- Japanese language: learn 25 key Japanese phrases whilst you sleep; 25 most common phrases used in Japan; 47 ways to say ‘thank you’ in Japanese and culture: 10,000 years of Japanese history in 9 minutes; What not to do in Japan.
- Chinese: Why Mandarin Chinese is easy to learn; Learn to count 0-10 in Mandarin; Stop saying ni hao!
By learning another language you’ll develop all-important intercultural skills too. Take a look at this SIETAR webinar on Tools to overcome cultural stereotypes.
6. Improve your English language skills
If English is your second language, the British Council's LearnEnglish website provides many interactive resources to help improve your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The grammar and vocabulary sections, aimed at learners of all levels, will help you build your overall confidence in using everyday English.
Before you sign up for our English language courses this autumn, the Cambridge Assessment Learning English website offers lots of free activities to help you practise your English and free materials to help you prepare for the Cambridge English exams.
7. Brush up on your digital skills
To live, learn, work and thrive in today’s digital society, you need to develop your digital skills.
The University of Bath is the lead partner for the Institute of Coding (IOC) which brings together industry, government, higher education and outreach partners to create new courses and engage a diverse group of people into digital careers.
The IOC offers a series of short and free courses on digital skills hosted on FutureLearn, including:
- Digital skills for the workplace (several of these courses also feature in the Government’s digital and numeracy Skills Toolkit)
- A practical guide to essential creative technologies
FutureLearn offers a wide range of free courses from other providers, including:
To get the most out of online learning, the University of Bath is encouraging all students to use a digital skills self-assessment tool to evaluate and develop their skills. Once you've completed the self-assessment, you'll receive a personalised report showing your current digital skills levels with links to free resources and courses in order to develop them further.
8. Build your confidence with maths and statistics
Whether you find numeracy, maths, statistics and data intimidating or whether you use these throughout your studies or research there are specific skills you might invest time in. Have you thought about:
- Developing your numeracy skills ready for placement or graduate recruitment numeracy tests
- Getting started with data and statistical software for quantitative research and lab work in the Social and Life Sciences
- Improving your fluency by repetitive practise of the maths skills you rely on in the Physical Sciences and Engineering
- Learning to type mathematics so you can communicate maths online and in your dissertation
- Developing the maths study skills and strategies needed for the Mathematical Sciences
- Developing your statistical skills as a doctoral student
- Building your Scientific Python skills for Engineering and Computer, Mathematical and the Applied Sciences
- Building your Data and Statistical Sciences skills in a direction which interests you.
9. Get ready for postgraduate study
If you’re starting a postgraduate taught course at the University of Bath this autumn, you can access a special online programme of skills support – the UG to PGT Study Programme - we’re offering during August and September 2020 to help prepare you for study at postgraduate level. Our blog also has advice on what to expect if you make the step up from undergraduate to postgraduate study. You may also want to find out if you’re eligible for our PGT Progression Award offering you 20% off your tuition fees.
10. Enhance your employability skills
If you’re graduating this year or next year, we’ve designed a special programme of support – Stay Connected – to help you navigate the challenges of the current economic climate. Stay Connected offers a wide range of online sessions and resources designed specifically to help you develop your skills for employment.
There are opportunities to network online with this year’s graduates as well as our Alumni community, get help with writing a job application or preparing for an interview, and access our Bath Skills Employability Training (BEST) programme to continue your learning and development to increase your employment prospects.
Whatever skills you want to focus on, we wish you a productive summer!