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The Academic Skills Handbook

The Academic Skills Handbook
Your Guide to Success in Writing, Thinking and Communicating at University

Second Edition
  • Diana Hopkins - Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), Freelance Consultant
  • Tom Reid - Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), Freelance Consultant
Additional resources:

February 2024 | 448 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This is your complete guide to success in navigating, writing, thinking, and communicating at university. Packed with tips, diagnostic tools, guided exercises, and full text examples, it equips you to boost your grades, ace your assignments, and get the most out of your time at university.
This book helps you:

  • Prepare for and navigate university culture
  • Develop the academic skills needed for success at university
  • Communicate your ideas with confidence and clarity
  • Watch your skills grow with diagnostic tools
  • Create your own study plan tailored to the skills you need
  • Know what your tutor is looking for and how to deliver
  • Turn your skills into success after university

The Academic Skills Handbook is specially designed to show you where your strengths are and what you need to work on, so you get a practice plan that is perfect for your needs. It then arms you with the principles and practice to get ahead in your academic writing, presentations and group work.

What's new to this edition? Three chapters on university culture, writing blogs, and online and blended learning (including best practices for using AI as a support tool), as well as new annotated examples of course work and increased coverage of wellbeing. 

Student Success
is a series of essential guides for students of all levels. From how to think critically and write great essays to boosting your employability and managing your wellbeing, the Student Success series helps you study smarter and get the best from your time at university. 

Part 1: Transition to University
Chapter 1: Understanding university culture
Part 2: Reading & Note-Taking Skills
Chapter 2: Reading skills
Part 3: Listening and Speaking Skills
Chapter 3: Getting the Most Out of Lectures
Chapter 4: Communicating in Seminars
Part 4: Blended/Online Learning
Chapter 5: Getting the most out of a blended learning approach
Part 5: Course Work & Assignments
Chapter 6: Academic Essays
Chapter 7: Lab Reports
Chapter 8: Presentations
Chapter 9: Working in Groups
Chapter 10: Taking Exams
Chapter 11: Writing Dissertations
Chapter 12: Writing Posters
Chapter 13: Reflective Essays
Chapter 14: Writing a blog
Part 6: Taking a Critical Approach
Chapter 15: Taking a critical approach
Part 7: The Core skills of good writing
Chapter 16: Writing with Clarity
Chapter 17: Writing with Accuracy and correct use of grammar
Chapter 18: Being Concise
Chapter 19: Writing in Academic Style
Part 8: Referencing and citing sources
Chapter 20: Referencing with accuracy


Critical writing webinar
Watch the video recording of student webinar Academic Writing and Taking a Critical Approach with authors Diana Hopkins, and Tom Reid. Hosted by JS Group, this talk brings some top tips on how to show more critical engagement with your writing to achieve higher grades.
Study skills hub
Visit our hub for free academic skills, wellbeing and employability resources from our new and bestselling guides, designed to support you from day one all the way through to graduation and beyond.
Online resources
Writing Sample Library: Annotated examples of real writing from real students, full of notes and tips from the authors to help you anticipate what your tutor will look for. Here you can find sample essays for every subject area, a lab report, reflective essay, a dissertation and a sample poster.

Diagnostic Tool Kit: Score yourself from the diagnostic test in each chapter of the book, so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and can plan your own, personal plan to build up your academic skills.

Answers to Guided Tasks: Find the answers to all guided tasks in the book too!

Professional, loved the images, layout and text combinations. I enjoyed it immensely and would certainly have loved this book for my undergraduate BA. 

Jay Dunstan
PhD Researcher, University of East London
Chapter review

Overall, the chapter effectively navigates the nuances of university culture in the initial weeks. Its strengths lie in practical advice and insights into campus life. The practical advice is immensely useful for both incoming and current students.

Yan Yee Yip
PhD student, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Chapter review

Gives students good insight into academic writing, especially students who ahve not written a nursing academic assignment previously.

Mr Thomas Beary
Nursing, Hertfordshire University
April 29, 2024

useful handbook to accompany unit on study skills

Mrs Adele sewell
Teacher education, Bishop Burton College
June 20, 2024

a clear guide for students new to academia

Mrs Sarah Newton-Gray
School of Care Sciences, University of South Wales (Glamorgan)
May 1, 2024

This is a useful guide for students who have not yet mastered their command of academic writing.

Mr Tristan Middleton
Department of Education, Gloucestershire University
April 10, 2024

A great handbook for HE students

Mrs Beverley Griffiths
Education, Buckinghamshire College Group
July 2, 2024

This is such a general book that it is hard to put on one reading list. I like the way it is broken up into easily readable and manageable sections, which are good for referring to. The titles of each section make it very clear what the section is about. It is especially good for both the Year 1 UG students and the MA students who have come from abroad. I will recommend this book to the library and to both UG and PGT courses in the School.

Dr Indira Banner
School of Education, Leeds University
March 22, 2024

Fantastic study skills book for our Foundation Year students.

Dr Louise Webber
Plymouth Institute of Education, Plymouth University
May 8, 2024

Sage College Publishing

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