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The University of Southampton
Transition Project

During semester one

The opportunity to take diagnostic tests and receive early coursework feedback is extremely helpful for Masters students to help them identify as early as possible areas where they are having difficulties, such as academic writing, basic mathematics and statistics and research skills, so that they can discuss with their personal tutor immediate steps to take to improve these skills such as developing a personal work plan, attending academic writing classes, maths tutorials, etc.

Early assessment also helps to identify those international students that might need extra language support, which can be organised through the Centre for Language Study (CLS) and can be tailored to the specific learning needs and level of the students.

In some academic units with a large population of masters students such as Management, the student representation system has two separate positions; the Academic Representative and the Postgraduate Academic Representative. This has been extremely beneficial in Management as the specific requirements of Masters students have been more effectively attended to. The Postgraduate Academic Rep has also organised Masters specific social events, improving the cohort sense of belonging.

As part of two pilot schemes run in Management and Electronics and Computer Science the Transition Project has collected Masters student feedback on what these students found most challenging during their early weeks at university. Below are the top 10 challenges that the students mentioned.

  1. Learning and communicating in a different language
  2. Adapting to a different teaching style
  3. Essay writing and understanding  what is required of assignments
  4. Time management and critical reading skills
  5. Working in groups with people from other backgrounds
  6. Lack of a background knowledge on the subject studied
  7. Balancing work and part-time study
  8. Lack of clarity regarding academic standards and how to improve
  9. Making friends and home sickness
  10. Lack of confidence to ask questions in class or to discuss with Personal Tutor academic or personal issues
Student in Class

“I am from Ireland so I did not have too much to adapt to. I guess moving out of home was the major adjustment and fending for myself. I went straight from an undergrad into a Masters so adapting to a higher expectancy in level of work was difficult at first. I lived at home for the duration of my undergrad so moving in with other students was new for me to adapt to but not that difficult.” Humanities/MSc Osteoarchaeology Student.

International students

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