National Poetry Day

Written by Stephanie Gaddum

The College of Humanities along with Arts and Culture Exeter, will be running events on Thursday 1st October to celebrate National Poetry Day virtually. The day encourages all to enjoy, discover and share poetry, this years’ theme is Vision.

Following from the successful 2019 Places of Poetry project, there will be a digital book launch of all of the poems. The Places of Poetry anthology digital book launch will take place 7-8:30pm on Zoom this Thursday. This is a volume of selected verse from around England and Wales from last year’s hugely popular Places of Poetry project. You can find out more about this online event here:

The Places of Poetry project has engaged people of all ages and abilities to write about place, heritage and identity and then ‘pin’ their poems onto a distinctive digital map, where everyone can read them.

The digital map encourages people to think about the environment and history around them. The map consists of two layers: an artistic map, based on decorative seventeenth-century county maps, and a second layer of Ordnance Survey data, allowing users to zoom in to a high level of detail. You can view this map here: For more information on the Places of Poetry project read our article:

Academic colleagues from the Modern Languages and Cultures department have shared videos of them reciting their favourite poems in a range of different languages which can be found by logging into flipgrid:

Additionally University of Exeter English professor Dr Simon Rennie is relaunching his popular monthly student poetry evening, Inn Verse on National Poetry Day (1st October 6pm on Zoom) as a digital event. Register for this event here:

Arts and Culture Exeter are also hosting a series of events which can be viewed here:

A Cornish Student’s Experience at Penryn

Written by Kira BA English student studying on the Penryn campus

My name is Kira and I am an undergraduate studying English on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall. In September I will be going into my second year of study, and I wanted to share my experience with the Penryn campus and why I believe it’s such an amazing place to study.

As a student who has been born and raised in Cornwall, when it came to deciding my university my first thought was to what was beyond the Tamar. I did all sorts of research for universities outside of my home county but eventually decided that the University of Exeter, not so far from home, was the perfect university that suited what I wanted to study. A research-led institute, an amazing English course with interesting modules, and an atmosphere that I loved. I visited both the Streatham campus and the Penryn campus and applied for both. I successfully received two offers and was determined to study with Exeter, so confirmed Streatham as my firm and Penryn as my insurance.

As the summer of 2019 progressed and some major life events naturally occurred, I slowly realised I wanted to stay in the beautiful Kernow countryside. I made the decision on results day to study at Penryn rather than the Streatham campus. A decision I am glad that I made.

I applied to live on-campus so that I wouldn’t miss out on any of the classic ‘university experiences’, and to still gain that independence that would have come from moving far away from home. I met so many amazing people within my first week, mostly from my course. Joining various social media groups full of people who would be living in Glasney Student Village, taking the same course, or just generally being on campus, I felt I already knew so many even before arriving.

Something I was so shocked at was the fact that within my circle of friends and flatmates, so few of them were from the southwest. I met perhaps one or two who were on different courses who were from Cornwall, however, the majority of people I know are from further afield. Being someone from Cornwall going to a Cornish university campus, I expected to bump into people I’d known through my whole education, however, this was not the case for me. It felt like a fresh new start surrounded by so many new friends, but in a place I knew and loved.

With beautiful countryside and coastline, it’s hard to be dissuaded from living in this amazing county. It is definitely different from bigger cities that people may be joining from, and that perhaps is an experience in itself! Whilst Falmouth, or Cornwall in general, may not have a huge nightclub and nightlife scene, it does not mean there is absolutely nothing for that genre! Falmouth is also abundant in local pubs hosting music events and places for you to relax with friends after a particularly hard week. There are also many restaurants that you can take family or friends to when they visit!

Falmouth and Penryn have such a vibrant community, only a quick bus trip from the campus, with many independent shops and beautiful waterfront scenery. With a slightly longer bus trip from the campus, you can travel to Truro, Cornwall’s capital and only city. From its parks and cathedral to the classic retail stores, Truro is a beautiful place to explore.

One final comment from me is that I highly recommend everyone consider studying at the University of Exeter Penryn Campus, as its atmosphere is uncontested – it’s homely and friendly. Everywhere is within a short walking distance, and there are bus stops nearby for trips further afield. It’s a beautiful campus to work on with many places to relax or study. Don’t underestimate this wonderful campus; truly do come and visit to see just how lovely it is! I am aware that during this unfamiliar time with Covid-19, physical visits are impossible, however you can tour the campus virtually and if you have any questions you can get into contact with the university using this link.

Studying from home

Written by Hannah BA English and Creative Writing student

An endless supply of tea, easy access to peanut butter toast and the option to work in your pyjamas; studying from home can be great, especially when it means avoiding a soggy commute to the library and helping to reduce carbon emissions. An endless supply of tea, easy access to peanut butter toast and the option to work in your pyjamas; studying from home can be great, especially when it means avoiding a soggy commute to the library and helping to reduce carbon emissions.

However, speaking from experience, it can come with procrastination pitfalls; Netflix, sleeping and baking to name a few. If you are used to studying with friends home working can also feel a little dull and lonely. That said, when you’ve got a 3,000-word essay to write there’s no better place to get it down. Not convinced? I have nine tried and tested tips guaranteed to help you get the most out of studying at home.

1. Set up a separate study space – Keeping your work and relaxation areas separate can help you switch off at the end of the day. Try and set yourself up somewhere quiet, away from other people and distractions – ideally not in bed as this may cause your brain to associate bed with study not sleep!

2. Wear whatever works for you – A plethora of articles dedicated to home working claim that wearing workwear at home may boost your productivity. I can see the logic and if that works for you go for it! Personally, I like to be comfy when I study and relish the chance to wear outlandish, uncoordinated and oversized clothing.

3. Log out – Make it harder to procrastinate by logging out of your social media accounts and removing the sites from your bookmark toolbar.

4. Work out when you are most productive – I’m not a morning person, the alarm clock is my nemesis. Evenings, however, are when I find myself most inspired. I therefore plan my study schedule around this ebb and flow of productivity by setting myself easier tasks in the morning and harder stuff later in the day. If you are an early bird, make sure you maximise your most productive period by eating your frogs* straight after breakfast.

*In the words of Mark Twain: ‘If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’



5. Take a walk – Because studying at home eliminates our commute it can mean we can spend less time exercising and being active. I combat this by getting out at lunchtime for a run or a walk – I find it really helps me to stay motivated and energised.






6. Give yourself screen breaks – Sitting in the same position and staring at a screen for too long can leave us feeling tense, tired and sluggish. Extend how long you can be productive for by getting up regularly from your desk for 5-10-minute breaks. (Don’t tell anyone but I find a burst of bad dad dancing helps to get the creative juices moving).

7. Reward yourself – Avoid the guilt inducing hole of Netflix binging by setting targets and rewarding yourself with an episode of your favourite show when you meet them. Be strict though, get back to work once you’ve had your allotted time out.

8. Let the people you live with know when you are studying – Tell partners, parents or friends when you are studying so they know when not to disturb you. Telling someone I plan to work also makes me feel more accountable and committed to getting my work done when I say I will.

9. Celebrate small milestones – Don’t wait till the hand in to celebrate, keep yourself motivated by setting and celebrating small milestones with chocolate* (*insert snack of choice).

10. Bonus point – Do the above and you’ll also benefit from the smugness that comes from watching gales whip away umbrellas while you drink tea and power through assignments.

Tips to Enjoy the First Week of University

Written by Lauren MA International Film Business student

Arriving in a completely new city and starting a new life can be pretty scary, especially if you arrive alone. As an international postgraduate student who travelled all across the world to Exeter, I would like to share my experience of my first week of University. Hopefully, it will help you relieve the anxiety of moving into university.

A little thing about me, my name is Lauren. Originally from Canton, China, I spent my past few years studying Filmmaking in Beijing before coming to the UK. I’m approaching the end of my MA in International Film Business, a programme that is run by the University of Exeter and London Film School. Even though I only spent my first term in Exeter, it was still my first time being a postgraduate student in a new country. Typically, the first week for a new student will be fresher’s week without any official classes. It’s a great time to get familiar with the city and university as well as connect with new people. The following blog content will feature the things I prepared for in advance and how I spent my fresher’s week as a new postgraduate student.

  • Before departure: check all your documents

University will be sending out welcome emails in August including some important information about schedules, arrival information and fresher’s week. Try to read through these emails carefully and take notes then arrange your schedule accordingly. It will be a good practice for English as a second language students to get used to reading and studying in an English environment in advance. For non-EU students, most of us need to present our documents at registration and do a police registration during the fresher’s week, which requires lots of important documents. Make a checklist of them and try to prepare several copies, especially your passport, to save time and trouble. Although there’re lots of copy machine on campus, the first week might be extremely busy as everyone needs to make photocopies but are struggling to learn how to use the machines!

  • Arrive during day time

If you live in private accommodation, it will make things so much easier if you pick the right time to arrive, ideally before the groceries stores close. Not a lot of shops are open ’til late in Exeter, so spare the time if you need to grab necessities or food on your first day of arrival.

View from my window, taken on my first day in Exeter

  • Step out and walk around

Seize your excitement of being in a new city and explore around! To be honest I didn’t walk around university and the city much after I settled in. So, do this when you’re still fresh to the new environment. I arrived on Saturday and went out on the second day of arrival. Fresher’s week did not officially start back then so I was able to explore the quiet campus. The weather was nice in September. I still remember I fell in love with the beautiful scenery as soon as I stepped on to the Streatham campus.

Streatham Campus in September

Exeter is not a very big city and most of the places are accessible by foot. My private accommodation is approximately 35 minutes’ walk to the Forum, the centre of Streatham campus. But I still prefer to walk every day instead of taking a bus. The nice view along my way makes me feel relaxed and walking is a good exercise to help me stay active during some busy days.

My daily walk to school

The second day of arrival, I went to collect my Exeter student card and BRP. Then I walked down from campus to the city centre. The majority of Exeter’s shops and restaurants are spread out along the high street area. Compared to other cities, I will say that Exeter has a pretty tiny city centre area. But it is still able to fulfil your basic needs of life as it has the most common shops and brands. My favourite thing to do in the city centre is to walk around the Princesshay shopping centre and take a rest on the green near Exeter Cathedral or enjoy an amazing hot chocolate drink from Chococo. The M&S Foodhall in the city centre is a popular place among Chinese students. It has lots of high-quality ready meals that can fill your stomach when you don’t have enough equipment or ingredient to cook during the first week.

Walk to the city centre

  • Attend freshers’ week activities

For our programme, we have a two-day induction session during freshers’ week. The induction session was helpful and included much useful information such as where the classes take place, school facilities, course structure, assignments, language support and so on. I was very excited to meet my classmates. We spent lots of time together during the session and became familiar with each other. Frankly, I am not an extremely sociable person, especially when speaking out of my mother tongue, meeting new people gives me anxiety. But all my classmates were very nice and patient and willing to get to know each other despite my language barrier at the time.

Visit to the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum during induction

Outside of programme induction, the university also arranged a series of fresher activities, such as the freshers’ fair. I went to the freshers’ fair with my new classmates. We had some free food, enjoyed the university fair atmosphere and went to check out some societies. Going to freshers’ week activities is a good chance to connect with your new friends and you can feel the excitement of freshers in the air. As we only studied in Exeter for a term, we were not able to get that much involved with the Exeter student community. But we still managed to make some friends through the activities arranged by the postgraduate society throughout the term.

Fresher’s fair food truck

  • Go for a short trip to the beach

We had a local student in our  class who suggested that we should go to the beach and enjoy the last bit of sunshine before summer ended. He told us there’s a nice beach in Exmouth, which is only 30 min away by train from Exeter. When the induction ended, a few people from my class were interested in this idea so we went on a tiny field trip together the day after. From my perspective, the best way to bond with friends is go on a trip together. We talked a lot, sat on the beach, played Frisbee, walked around the town and had fish and chips in the park. We shortly became close friends after that and did lots of group projects together throughout the terms.

Exmouth beach

The first week of university is all about getting ready for your future study. I was quite worried before coming to the UK regarding the foreign city, fitting in an English environment, making friends, etc. But it turned out to be an interesting week. Just be nice to people, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, and go explore as much as you can. At the end of my first week, I felt I had enough knowledge of my surrounding environment and felt comfortable and ready to start my study. Hope you have as much as fun during your first week as I did and happily survive the transition period.

How the university has supported me through lockdown

Written by BA Art History & Visual Culture and History student Niamh 

For many of us now, Covid-19 and the lockdown are two words/ phrases that have become part of a our daily vocabulary and life. However, when the quick and abrupt lockdown was enforced back in mid March I was as a final year undergraduate student in the midst of my studies; writing essays, meeting my supervisor to talk about the all important third year dissertation and was reflecting on the last few months I would have in Exeter.

This was all quickly swept away from me and after lockdown was imposed I felt lost in a void of not knowing what to do or where to go. I returned to my family home leaving my life in Exeter and suddenly realising my time as a final year student was coming to an end. I had lots of university work still due in the easter holidays as well exams in May. I had to from somewhere find motivation to continue. As a third year I did not expect my last term and the exam period to be sat at home away from my independent life, my student house and my university friends. It was for myself, in the first few weeks hard to adjust and in all honesty not a pleasant experience. I felt I had no purpose, no motivation to continue my studies as graduation was now cancelled and no hope for seeing Exeter and my friends again. I know reflecting back on this early experience I may have been overthinking and added a touch of the dramatics. However, the feelings of helplessness I experienced were quickly subdued by the university and its support.

Tutors and academics from the onset of the pandemic adapted quickly to remotely support me through my remaining studies. I was able to arrange phone calls with my dissertation supervisor and attend Microsoft teams meetings with other tutors to address issues I may have been having with adapting to studying at home and writing my essays. Those who I spoke to were encouraging, understanding and inspiring as they reassured me that everything would be ok and that my studies plus grades would not be affected by these circumstances.

Another way the university supported me was through the consistent and great effort from the Student Guild and the university to implement a no detriment policy. This in effect gave all students a safety net towards work they would submit during the pandemic whilst at home. The fears of performing badly and being unable to study in a new environment were made a little easier by knowing that the university understood what current students were going through. On social media and through email, the university listened to the plethora of opinions, worries and suggestions that students offered which really felt like we were being listened to and that we were all in this together. Taking these sentiments, I was able to complete my studies e.g. my coursework, exams and dissertation as I knew that the university understood my circumstances as well as the new arisen difficulties.

Similarly, the Career Zone continued online with webinars and online appointments which really helped me after I had finished my studies. The quickening fear of now finishing my studies and having to think about my next steps after university were immediate during the lockdown as I felt the pandemic had thrown my future pathways into doubt. Pre-covid, after exam celebrations were planned and the career thoughts and journey were meant to be put on hold as I would have celebrated and enjoyed the summer months travelling, working part time and enjoying a well rested break. However, sadly I knew that this would not be able to happen, the career worries set in and this is where I turned to the career zone. The support online for helping find graduate jobs, internships and also advertising webinars to help you apply e.g. I took part in one last week on what assessment centres are like were all readily available and free to access for students. This career support has made me feel less stressed and worried about what the future might hold after my time as an Exeter student sadly comes to an end.

In addition to the worries of my future, I was before Covid attending wellbeing appointments through the university’s wellbeing services. This was this year a new thing for me and I was just adjusting to seeking help with my mental health when the pandemic began. I suddenly thought how was I going to receive the help I was having before and may now need during the lockdown? The university made it clear that their wellbeing services were still accessible and that appointments would now be by phone. This was increasingly positive news and really helped me to know that I would be able to access the support I would need away from Exeter. Similarly, the Doctors surgery on campus was able to offer me telephone appointments too.

Overall, the university’s support for me during these difficult times has been welcoming and reassuring. I have been able to seek help from relevant services and have been supported through my final year studies by my tutors and other academics and university staff. The university has been great at moving its facilities online which I have been able to access. My fears and worries are still there however the university has been able to help me understand that this isn’t goodbye to Exeter University once and for all. I will at some point in 2021 have my awaited graduation and I will always be an Exeter University student at heart.

Budgeting while at university

Written by BA Art History & Visual Culture and History student Niamh

The cost of university for many students can be a worrying subject. For instance, I was quite apprehensive about spending money in my first few weeks at university as I was totally new to the subject. Gone were the days where I would be able to walk into the kitchen and find a whole host of foods from the weekly family shop. I now had to this myself but how much would I able to spend? When managing your finances, it’s vital to be honest about what you spend and how you spend it. I had not realised the cost of having a takeaway coffee 2-3 times a week. Many students can underestimate their expenditure by as much as 50%! This however doesn’t have to cause alarm.

The first step I took was to look at how much money I would receive from student finance. I knew my tuition fee would go straight to the university and my maintenance loan would be deposited into my student bank account. I had never before had to pay rent at home and it was at first quite daunting having money in my account I knew I had to spend wisely. After calculating how much money I would have to be put towards my student accommodation rent, I then had money left over for food shopping and leisure activities.

I had before coming to university saved some money in my savings account in case my budgeting skills were a bit rusty. I also knew I would like to find a part-time job at university which would ease my financial worries and give me more breathing space to over spend if needed or in case an emergency arose.

The next step I took was to evaluate how much I would typically eat in a week or two weeks, did I need to buy three packets of pasta or would I be able to use one or two? Calculating your own budget on the amount of food you will consume is easier said than done! My top tip would be to write down the maximum amount of money you would be willing to spend on your food shop. If your food budget covers more than your shop cost then that means more money for something else e.g. leisure activities. Sharing with flatmates or housemates with key condiments such as salt, pepper even toiletries cut my weekly budget towards essentials down.

After completing my food shop I then knew how much I could spend on the week ahead. Its best to remember that some sports, societies and subscriptions you may sign up to in Fresher’s week require fees or regular payments. This was something else I had to contend with when writing down my budget. I knew I had to keep some money aside to pay for cricket equipment, sessions and club stash. Money set aside for socialising was an important part of my budget as I knew I would have to spend money on catching up with friends and clubbing on Friday nights. Although budgeting may seem somewhat restricting on what you can or cannot spend your money on, for me it helped me organise my week and allowed me to continue my studies without starting to worry about my new financial situation.

Below are a few tips that could help ease your financial worries whilst university budgeting!

For other costs – take your weekly budget out as cash from a free ATM at the start of each week. This way you can keep a better track of what you are spending and be able to see physically, the change and notes you have for the rest of the week. This made me think twice about wanting to break into a £20 note for a £2 chocolate bar!

I applied for my first credit card at university however I kept it separate and only required it in case of emergencies. Ensure you pay it off each month rather than getting charged. This was similar to my student overdraft which I tried not to dip into, although it was interest free I knew eventually I would have to pay it off. It is not free money!

Remember when attending university, to keep track of your finances. A little notebook could be helpful to jot down outgoings and money coming into your account such as your student loan, part time work or money sent from family members or guardians. Don’t let your money worries detract you from your studies and enjoyment of university life! There are many activities, opportunities and events which are free to attend put on either by the university, student union or by your friends. I have had great fun in creating activities and trying to find the cheapest alternatives to buying things, thus saving money. Its part of the university experience!


How do I prepare for starting university? Five top tips!

Written by Hannah BA English with Study Abroad

Preparing to start university is simultaneously an incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking time. As a student heading towards my final year in Exeter, I want to give you my five tried and tested top tips for preparing for starting university.

  1. The Practicals: Finance and Accommodation

Let’s get the boring (but highly important) aspects of finance and accommodation covered first, as having this sorted will help you have a stress-free transition to university life. Make sure you have applied for your accommodation and student finance before the respective deadlines.

Look into opening a student bank account – shop around between options as most student bank accounts come with a variety of perks that vary between providers. A 16-25-year-old railcard will also come in handy if you will be travelling to and from university by train during the year. Financially, it’s also handy to learn how to budget and manage your own money. Planning on a weekly basis can be a great way to keep on top of your spending without getting overwhelmed.

  1. Get connected on social media

Following the university on social media is a great way to keep up to date and familiarise yourself with your campus. You can also find pages and group chats set up for incoming students, which can be a great way to find students studying your subject or heading to the same accommodation as you.

Most societies and sports clubs will also have social media presences, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, so have a look into the ones you might be interested in to see what they will be getting up to at the start of the year. Remember to keep an open mind too as there will be plenty more societies and clubs that you come across once you arrive. It can be particularly useful to join the society for your academic subject so you can meet other students in a social setting or get advice from older years.

  1. Read around your subject

It’s also a good idea to dedicate some time to preparing for your studies before you arrive in Exeter. Find out if there are reading lists that your department recommend familiarising yourself with before your course starts. Don’t panic about covering everything but remember that, even if it feels like a chore over your summer, it will be so helpful to get ahead on reading in the long run as it will free up time for socialising and making friends in your first few weeks.

If your subject doesn’t have prescribed reading lists, read around your subject more generally! Hopefully you chose your subject because you find it interesting so find examples of your subject in action in the wider world. Doing some more ‘academic’ reading will really help ease you back into the student frame of mind after a long pause to studies.

Don’t panic about buying every single book possible – remember that the library will be available to you on campus, as well as Blackwell’s which sells textbooks second-hand at discounted prices.

  1. Learn to cook

Starting at university is likely your first time living away from home. With this newfound freedom and independence also comes the challenge of having to feed yourself every day (if you are in self-catered accommodation). Before you arrive at uni, try to have a few basic meals under your belt. Beans on toast is great but gets boring quickly. Meals that can be bulk made and frozen, such as chilli or Bolognese, are ideal. While you are still at home, have a practice at meal planning for a week, which will also help you practice budgeting.

It’s also worth knowing that you don’t need to bring every piece of kitchen equipment under the sun. Start with the basics and, once you’ve arrived and met your flatmates, figure out what extra equipment might be useful to buy as a house. No house needs 8 cheese graters…

  1. Get excited!

The run up to starting university can be a nerve-wracking time as there are so many unknowns involved. Above all, embrace the uncertainty and focus on how exciting it is to have several years of new opportunities ahead of you. It is so important to remember that everyone around you is in the same boat and (even if they don’t admit it) everyone experiences nerves when they start at university. Before you know it, you’ll have settled into university life and forgotten all about the initial nerves. If you take anything from this blog, please let it be a reminder to not panic!

I hope this has helped give you an idea about how to prepare for starting university.

Good luck and (hopefully) see you in September!

Going to a Virtual Open Day

Written by Annie MA Mechanical Engineering 









Choosing which universities you want to apply for at the moment may be daunting for some. Without being able to visit the cities and get a feel for the place you might find it difficult to picture yourself living there. HOWEVER… many universities are adapting to offer online open days!

You may be hesitant to attend as you feel it won’t be the same experience and you won’t be able to get the information that you need. BUT… fear not I am going to explain all the resources you have available on an online open day and what you can get out of it!

  1. Campus tour– it might seem a bizarre concept but campus tours are available for all university of Exeter campuses. If you are wanting to get a feel for the campus this is a great way to get to see it, lead by one of the universities student ambassadors.
  2. Subject booths– Each subject available has a subject booth that can be accessed through the main auditorium. At the stand there are a number of resources that are available to read and print, as well as students and staff members online to answer any questions you might have. It’s a great way to interact with students already on your course and get to know their experience.
  3. Admissions- At the admissions stand there are a number of resources available for students who may require help with the admissions process. There are a number of useful links, as well as staff members available to answer your questions.
  4. Accommodation– A great way of getting to see the accommodation as well as understand current student experiences is to visit the accommodation stand. There you are able to access video about the different types of accommodation available as well as listen to students talking about their personal experiences. Moreover, there are staff on hand to answer questions you might have about accommodation.
  5. Student Life– The student life stand is a great way of getting to know what its like to be a student studying at the university of Exeter. There are a variety of videos and documents on sports, life and opportunities available whilst studying at the university.
  6. International Admission– As well as an admissions stand, there is a more specific international admissions stand. The process for international student is often very different and so specific content has been created for those looking to study internationally. It also covers funding available as well as the support that is provided.
  7. Networking– If you are interested in speaking to other prospective students as well as academics, students and staff, the networking booth is a great way to get involved in conversation. There are a number of live threads you are able to add to!
  8. Support services– There are a number of support available whilst studying at the university, an overview of these can be found at the support services stand. There are also people online to answer any questions you might have.
  9. Auditorium– The auditorium stand has a number of videos available, from subject talks to student life. All presentations that are great to see. These presentations would otherwise be available at a normal open day and are a great way of finding out information about your course and the university.

How to book an online open day? Here are some useful links in signing up for an online open day. They show the dates available and how to register. Postgraduate Undergraduate

Exeter’s online open days are a great way to find out more information about the university and your course. There are a number of student and staff members across the stands providing a great way to interact and to get to know their experiences. The platform also allows you to download resources that you might find useful in gaining a deeper insight. Overall I would thoroughly recommend attending!

Tips for Navigating the Start of a Thesis/Dissertation

Written by Asma PHD English student

All Readings Matter

At the initial stages when you are doing a literature review, it can be significantly difficult to be reading and not really knowing what to do with all the books and articles you are going through. I had this same experience at the start of my PhD, and every time I found myself following threads of information to other books and articles that did not even seem relevant at the time. What I find now, however, is that everything I read contributed to my understanding of my thesis as a whole.

Note Taking and Keeping Track of References

I think it is really important to keep track of all the resources you check, as it gets difficult to remember everything you read after a couple of years into your PhD. I mostly just use a Word document and copy/paste all titles in there, so it is easy to get back to it later. I have highlighted relevant sections and added notes into the articles I read in PDF form, and that was super helpful when I started drafting my chapters. I have also used a Word document to write down whatever ideas sounded relevant to my chapter from the books I read, and whenever a similar idea emerged in another book/article, I would go back to that section on the Word document and write it under the previous one. This way of taking notes allowed me to have threads of similar ideas and different topics that a chapter could include. Some of these do not necessarily end up in the final draft of the chapter, but I later move them to another Word document of ‘leftover’ ideas that could work better in the next chapter.

Chapter Outlines and Starting Drafts

When writing the actual literature review, I tended to write prose rather than put things into bullet points whenever I could. I had chunks of prose and paragraphs from the note-taking stage that I used as starting points for my chapter drafting. Based on the threads of ideas that emerged in the literature I reviewed, I put initial chapter plans that would guide my drafting. It was never possible to stick to those outlines as they are, but they gave me a sense of direction when I started writing up. I added sections and titles and got rid of others when they did not work. In addition to this, I kept reminding myself that the resources I use for one chapter might not be used ever again in my thesis, so I did the works cited section for each chapter at the stage of drafting. This was honestly one of the best things I did throughout my writing up. When I finished drafting a chapter, I was not worried about remembering all the articles/books I referred to or having to spend a long time going through the chapters and writing down my references.

All Writing and Notes Matter

All in all, it is worth mentioning that I just wrote down ideas no matter how silly or irrelevant they sounded at first. Some of those later proved to be the start of a good comparison, for example, with another author’s ideas. They could provide ground for criticism as well, or they could just be there to encourage you as you see the page has some writing on it and it just helps you go on writing down more relevant stuff.

Preparation for uni life as an international student

Written by Feilin Lu MA Translation student

Another academic year is on its way, and I’d like to give some personal advice, from the perspective of a Chinese international student, on how to prepare to start university after you receive an offer from your dream university.

Booking the accommodation

It’s no doubt one of the most important things before you come to a new country to find a good place to live. And it’s a critical decision to make because generally speaking, you need to sign the contract for at least one year and pay for the deposit and part of the rent in advance, which means if you are not satisfied with the accommodation you booked, it would be quite problematic to change to another one. There are various choices for students coming to Exeter, including apartments both on campus or out of campus as well as private houses. In general, the conditions (services, facilities and indoor environment) of apartments would be better than that of private houses while the latter normally cost relatively less money. So it’s important to think about what you want most before you make the decision. Our university ensures the accommodation of first year student and you can find more details here: A reminder, book your accommodation as early as you can so that there will be more choices for you, and the fees may be cheaper. Also, be careful if you want to book accommodation from a private landlord.

Tuberculosis Testing

According to the regulation off the UK government, one coming from some countries needs to have a tuberculosis test if s/he wants to stay in the UK for over 6 months, and China is among these countries. You need to have the test at tuberculosis testing clinics approved by Home Office (full list: and the test should be finished before applying for visas. And here is some information you may want to know about taking the test,

Visa application

Another important thing to do. The type of visa we need to apply for is Tier 4 (General) student visa. You must provide the confirmation of acceptance for studies, the so-called CAS offered by your university as well as the tuberculosis test results when applying for the visa. Besides, you need to prove that you have enough money to support your life and education in the UK. That means you need to have enough money (tuition plus living costs for 9 months in the UK) in your account for at least 28 days. The bank statements are not necessary when you apply for the visa but you need to provide it if you get a spot check. It’s hard to say how long it will take to get the result, so my advice is to apply for it as soon as you get your CAS and after you have your money in your account for enough days.


Now you have everything done before you leave and the last step is to do the packing. Studying abroad could be exiting and fearful for students who have never been so far away from home. One may have no clue for what to take and not. Here are my advice:

◆ A rice cooker. There are fewer choices for it and the functions are simple here in the UK. So it’s better to take a small and good one from home.

◆ A laptop or/and a tablet. These electric devices are necessary because you are studying here not just traveling. A kindle is also a good choice.

◆ Skincare and beauty products. Although you can buy lots of European products with a better price here in the UK, for ones who are used to Asian brands such as Korean and Japanese ones, you’d better to take your daily stuff with you. It’s not so easy and cheap to buy them here.

◆ Clothes and shoes. I don’t think you need to take too many clothes and shoes with you cause you will always want to buy new ones. But for girls who are small (such as me!), it’s not easy to buy these in small sizes. It’s a sad story.

◆ Medicines. Medicines British people take are quite different from what we take in China. It’s not only expensive but also difficult to buy Chinese medicines here, especially traditional Chinese medicines. So take some commonly used medicines with you when you come here.

Here are some important things you need to do before coming here. And most importantly, prepare yourself to a new life in a whole new place and enjoy it!