Academic Skills, Studying and Referencing

Independent study

At university, you will need to take a greater ownership of your own learning. You will have a number of different learning activities to engage in and a wide range of resources to draw upon during your studies. Throughout your programme you may need to adapt your approach to study to make the most of the modules you take.

Many of you will have lectures that provide the basic knowledge for your module, demonstrate new processes or give you an insight into a topic. However, lectures rarely provide all the information you need to know. You will need to build upon the lecture to develop your own understanding through independent study. The role of the lecture will vary from module to module, so you will need to work out how it relates to other learning activities, such as seminars, tutorials and labs, as well as the assessment. This will help you prioritise your study time effectively.

To help you think about ways of studying and how you engage with lectures and other teaching sessions, take a look at the resources below.

Whilst they are based upon use of lecture captures, the study workflows may also give you ideas for how to engage with the module content. The videos will help you consider how to get the most from lectures and taught sessions, including approaches for note-making.

Study workflows with lecture capture 
Lecture capture study advice 


Academic integrity and referencing

Academic integrity and referencing 

  • Mandatory Academic Integrity tutorial explaining what academic integrity means and how to avoid academic misconduct. Access via your module list in your VLE.
  • Integrity website: resources explaining how to cite and reference source material with confidence in different referencing styles.
  • Turnitin training workshopsTurnitin is a text-matching software program you can use to develop your academic writing skills and avoid accidental plagiarism in your writing. Some departments organise training for their students, but you can also attend an open training session on how to use Turnitin. Workshops are held weekly and an online version of the training is available for distance learning or part-time students. Sign up to a workshop via your VLE or contact

Email for further advice on issues of academic integrity, such as referencing or Turnitin

Using the VLE

Getting started with the Yorkshare VLE*

There are four key things that you need to know about when you start using the VLE.

1. Using the right web browser

We recommend using either Firefox or Chrome to access the VLE. All managed computers on campus have them installed, and you can download them free of charge for your own machine:

If you'd prefer to use a different browser you can check whether it's suitable with Blackboard's Online Browser Checker. Students can also access the VLE using the Blackboard mobile app, but we advise against using this for assessment activity (eg submissions, details checking).

2. Session timeouts

If you leave the VLE open in a browser tab and don't use it for around three hours you will be automatically logged out. This may not be immediately obvious, but you might notice that VLE sites start to behave strangely: they may only partially load or some tools may stop working. If this happens to you:

3. Can't see your VLE site?

There are a few reasons why you may not be able to see a VLE site for one of your modules:

  • There may not be a VLE site for that module
  • The site exists but is currently hidden from students - for example, staff may be finalising the content
  • The site exists but you have not been enrolled on it

We recommend contacting your department if you can't see the sites you expect. They will be able to advise you why you can't see a site, and can enrol you onto a module if necessary.

4. Finding further VLE help

  • Take a look at our YouTube playlist
  • Click on the Help & Support link on any VLE page
  • Contact your Department if you have issues with the content of a VLE site, if you aren't sure where to look for something, or if you can't see a certain VLE site
  • Contact the E-Learning Development Teamusing your University email account if you problems with how the VLE works, and the advice in steps 1 and 2 above doesn't fix the issue 

*Note: some Online and Distance learners have an alternative VLE, details of which will be in their enrolment correspondence.