Skip to main content
Library Services


Guidance to academic skills that you can access in your own time

Throughout the year, we develop self-access guides to various aspects of learning at university.

These resources are designed around the needs of Queen Mary students and the demands of courses taught at the college — so they are reliable and trustworthy.

We are always working on new resources, so check back regularly. If you would like to request that we create a resource on a particular theme, or for individual advice on the issues raised on these pages, contact the team directly.

Getting Started at QMUL

Take our short online course about preparing for learning and teaching at QMUL

Take the course

Skills guides

A series of self-access guides to various aspects of studying that students often find challenging, including specific advice about remote learning.

Being Critical

What does it mean to "be critical"? How can you be more critical in your reading and writing?

Being Critical [PPT 2,182KB]


How do you avoid highlighting everything that you read? How can you make your notes more selective and useful for revision and coursework?

Note-making [PPT 1,106KB]

Time Management

What are the best ways of managing your time at university? How should you balance the various tasks you have to do?

Time Management [PPT 5,613KB]

Effective Revision

How should you plan the time you have available for revision? What techniques can you use to make sure you're using that time effectively?

Effective Revision [PPT 5,745KB]

Writing Essay Questions in Exams

How can you make sure you're answering the question in an essay-based exam? What are some good ways of planning an answer?

Writing Essay Questions in Exams [PPT 2,489KB]

Referencing and Paraphrasing

Why do we reference? How do you know how to format your references properly? What are the best ways to integrate sources into your writing?

Referencing and Paraphrasing [PPT 5,545KB]

Literature Reviews

What is a literature review? How should you find and manage literature? How should you critically evaluate it?

Literature Reviews [PPT 3,661KB]

Critical Writing

How should you be critical in your writing? What are some good rhetorical strategies for being critical? How can you put these into practice in your own writing?

Critical Writing [DOC 1,141KB]



Referencing is an important part of academic writing. It's also an aspect of writing that students often find difficult to navigate.

We've put together a skills guide on Referencing and Paraphrasing [PPT 5,545KB], which introduces students to the main principles of referencing and integrating other sources into your work.

We've also compiled a set of resources (below) about how to format references in a number of particular styles. There are many different referencing styles, and those included below are just a few of the most commonly-used.

Always check your course handbook to see if you are required by your department to use a particular style. And if you need advice about a style not listed here, check Cite Them Right Online or contact us.

Cite Them Right Online (CTRO) is a comprehensive online guide to referencing which includes specific advice on how to reference as well as extensive support materials.

Queen Mary students have full access to the library's paid subscription to CTRO.

Harvard is an in-text referencing style, particularly common in science and social science subjects.

In Harvard, the lead author's surname and the year of publication are inserted into the text in brackets.

Jones et al. (2017) argue...


One randomised study (Jones, 2017) found...

The full reference is then given in surname order in a Reference List at the end of the document.

Reference List

Jones, P., Sparks, A., Gabriel, J. and Saib, M. (2017) Biology in Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Imperial College has a very clear and thorough guide to referencing in Harvard.

Vancouver is a numbered referencing style, used primarily in medicine and some science subjects.

In Vancouver style, references are inserted into the text as numbers in brackets.

Jones et al. (1) argue...

The full reference is then included in number order in a Reference List at the end of the document.

Reference List

Jones P, Sparks A, Gabriel J, Saib M. Biology in Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2017. 

Imperial College have a very clear and thorough guide to referencing in Vancouver.

MLA (Modern Language Association) is an in-text referencing style, common in the humanities.

In MLA, the author's name and the page number of the reference are included in brackets.

Jones et al. argue... (164)


One randomised study (Jones et al. 164) found...

A full reference is then given in a 'Works-Cited' list at the end of the document.

Works Cited

Jones, Peter. Biology in Action. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

The official MLA website has more detailed guidance on how to use the style.

OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities) is a footnote referencing style, commonly used in Law.

Footnotes are inserted into the text as superscript numbers.

Key argues...¹

The complete reference is then included at the foot of the page.

¹ Joanna Key, Employment Law (3rd edn, OUP 2016)

The University of Lincoln has a very clear and comprehensive guide to referencing in OSCOLA.


Chicago is typically used as a footnote style, popular in humanities and social science subjects, including History, English and Politics.

In Chicago, a footnote is entered as a superscript number in the text.

Smith writes... ¹

The full reference is then included at the foot of the page.

¹ Zadie Smith, Swing Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), 280-81.

The Chicago Manual of Style has clear and comprehensive advice about how to reference in Chicago on their website.

A reference management tool is a piece of software that helps you build a library of sources and integrate them into your writing in a referencing style of your choice.

Queen Mary students can obtain access to the reference management tool, EndNote, through IT Services.

You can find guidance on how to use Endnote here.

If you have any questions about reference management that are not answered on the above pages, please contact your Faculty Liaison Librarian.

Multimedia Resources

A selection of videos, podcasts and interactive resources covering some of the major questions students have about their studies.


Our Soundcloud page has podcasts full of advice about how to study more effectively. Topics include Plagiarism, Staying on Top of Your Studies and interviews with student reps from each faculty about the challenges of remote learning.

Academic Integrity Scenario Game

Test your knowledge about plagiarism and academic integrity by completing our Academic Integrity Scenario Game.



The Apps4Learning blog is a helpful guide to applications that are useful for students when preparing for examinations and final assessments. It was developed as part of a collaboration between Academic Skills Enhancement and the Disability and Dyslexia Service, in support of the Students' Union's Study Well Campaign.

What skills do students need?

We asked academics and professional staff "What skills do students need to succeed at university?" Listen to what they said - and take note!

One-to-One Tutorials    |    Drop-ins    |    RLF tutorials    |    About the RLF    |    Learning Agreement    |    FAQs    |    Workshops    |    Resources    |    Dissertation Support for Master's Students    |    Contact

Back to top