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Academic Reading

As an undergraduate you need to read to increase your subject knowledge and this will require academic reading.

5 things you need to know...

Reading academic texts provides you with knowledge and information about your subject. Reading critically will challenge your existing ideas, create new ideas and expand your thoughts. However, at first, academic reading can be difficult to do; below are a few tips to make it easier for you.

  1. Choose a text which suits your reading style and level of knowledge Look at a range of resources and notice the layout of pages, use of colour, size of type, size of book, the depth of the information etc.
  2. Read to increase subject knowledge. You are at university to learn about a subject you are interested in. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to read every word, or expect to understand information on first reading. information is absorbed into the memory by 'little and often' reading.
  3. Read for a purpose.  Make  sure you know why you are reading a specific text. Is it appropriate for your needs? What sort of text you are reading? For example, a journal, book, act of parliament or command paper?  You need to understand the different types of sources you are required to use in your subject area.
  4. Develop your reading ability.  Perfect your reading skills such as skimming, scanning, detailed reading and speed reading.  Read actively by questioning the text, highlighting, paraphrasing, summarizing and making notes. Recognise the difference between fact and opinion. Develop your thinking by reading for author agreement and disagreement.
  5. Don’t believe everything you read.  Learn to critically appraise your sources of information.  Assess the evidence the author is presenting to support their views.  Evaluate the text.  Find out the credentials of the author(s), the date of publication, the edition, the way the text is laid out etc.  Ask yourself whether the text is going to be acceptable as an academic source of information.  Will it impress your tutor?

Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above.  

Related factsheets

Reading strategies that work (accessed 2 Sept 2019)

Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

Make an appointment for an online discussion or email support  by using our online booking form.

Personalising your device and using assistive tools

There are many assistive technology tools which can help you choose how you want to access material and these can really improve your productivity.

The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.