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2.3 Study Skills Support


Particularly at the start of the course, but also as you progress, there are various resources that both support the transition from sixth-form to University and remain valuable assets and sources of advice as you develop your study skills across three or more years. Experience has shown that these skills remain useful throughout the first year and beyond in helping students to meet the challenges that they face. You should both seek to familiarize yourself with these resources in good time for them to be useful as you begin your course and bear them in mind thereafter. The Study Skills Tutor and Writing Fellow are available to work with you one-on-one, providing advice tailored to your unique situation, goals and background.

2.3.1 College and University Resources

The Selwyn Library is an excellent source of support for online and print research and also contains books dedicated to academic skills and welfare. See the library Study Help page for more information on these resources, as well as guidance on referencing and good academic practice. The Selwyn Study Skills Induction session on October 5th introduced Dr Halina to first-year students and covered general study skills, as well as some more specific advice. 

The University and the Colleges also offer you a website which is aimed at helping undergraduates make the most of their time at Cambridge. It encourages students to think about their talents and achievements, identify goals, plan for the future, write their CV, and prepare for interviews. This Skills Portal includes a section specifically about the transition to undergraduate study and ongoing study skills support. The University has also CamGuides, designed to introduce new students to the University of Cambridge and provide tools supporting academic success. The site includes short videos with reflections and advice from current undergraduates. The topics covered by CamGuides include:

  • How will I learn in Cambridge?
  • Where will I learn in Cambridge?
  • What academic skills will I develop?
  • How do I find books and articles from a reading list?
  • How do I reference and avoid plagiarism?

2.3.2 Study Skills Tutor

Selwyn College is unusual in having a tutor dedicated to study skills. The Study Skills Tutor, Dr Marta Halina, is available for one-to-one coaching sessions throughout term time. If you would like to have a conversation about your individual study skills; guidance on how to become a more effective and efficient researcher and writer; or help initiating a group activity, such as a writing retreat or personal development workshop; please book a meeting with the Study Skills Tutor via the Tutorbook. The University has many resources dedicated to personal and professional development—the Study Skills Tutor can help you identify which resources might be best for you and where to find them.

2.3.3 Writing Fellow

In conjunction with Newnham College, Selwyn enjoys the part-time services of Writing Fellows funded by the Royal Literary Fund. In confidential, one-to-one tutorials, it is the Writing Fellow’s role to assist students with their essay-writing skills. The Writing Fellow in 2021-2022 is Zoe Howe (email: Any student wishing to set up one or more sessions with Zoe should contact her directly. The support the Writing Fellow provides is not solely intended to help improve academic writing, although that is the major focus of the advice they give. Nor should it be regarded as purely a remedial service. Many students writing at a very sophisticated level also benefit from the extra edge and clarity that the Writing Fellow can help them to achieve in their prose. It is also worth noting that this is not only useful for Arts students: the Writing Fellow is often a scientific author and all can benefit from their advice.

Click here for RLF flyer or RLF Further Information.

2.3.4 The Language Centre

The well-equipped Language Centre, located in Downing Place, runs courses in a number of languages. It also incorporates an Independent Learning Centre with audio-visual materials in an unrivalled range of languages. Anyone interested in using these facilities should visit the Enquiry Point located in the Centre. Those reading Modern Languages or Asian & Middle Eastern Studies are given tours of the Centre as part of their Faculty’s induction process. The Language Centre CULP programme provides courses in fifteen languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili and Turkish) and the ADTIS programme is designed to help students improve their English and academic skills.

The Language Centre also provides on-line language learning materials for University of Cambridge users. Resources include audios, videos, text, image and interactive exercises in a range of languages. There is an online catalogue of resources accessible from computers connected to the University network. Where the Centre charges fees for some of its courses students become eligible for a 50% reimbursement of course fees on production of the receipt and a copy of the certificate issued by the Language Centre to the Tutorial Office Manager.

The University is committed to a policy of ‘languages for all’. In addition to the Language Centre there are also other possibilities for language learning as part of your course. Consult your Director of Studies to check whether your course is one of those.