Studying in another country is a fantastic opportunity – you can master a different language, discover a new culture, and meet people from all walks of life. Although, it also means adapting to new rules and customs, especially those of your school or university.

Most universities will have a code of conduct that can be found in a Student Handbook on their website. You can find the Northumbria University London one here. However, there are some rules that are universal in most UK centres of higher education.

In this article, we will outline some basic dos and don’ts for essay writing, exams, and general university life but if you have any questions, you can always speak to your personal tutor – they will be happy to help.


  • Be on time
    Being late may seem like no big deal. What do a couple of minutes matter? A lot, actually. Being punctual shows respect, it acknowledges that your professor or fellow students’ time is worth something and is not yours to waste. There may be times when being late is unavoidable – in those circumstances, explain what happened, apologise and, most importantly, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Take notes
    This is purely for your own benefit. Whether you are attending a lecture, a seminar, or a meeting with your tutor, making a record of what was said is always a good idea. You may not always use your notes, but knowing they are there when you do need them is enormously helpful. There are several different ways to make notes these days; you can use a phone, a tablet or laptop to type or an old-fashioned pen and paper to write things down. Whatever you use, remember to label your notes clearly so you can easily find them again.
  • Ask questions
    You’re at university to learn. Everyone learns in their own way and at their own speed, so no one is going to judge you for asking a question. It shows you are paying attention and are engaged and no lecturer will fault you for asking them to explain something. You never know, the person next to you might have wanted to ask the exact same question but was too shy.
  • Do your reading and research
    This may seem obvious but it is so important – part of your course is made up of independent study. This means you will receive guidance from your teachers but that you will need to do your own reading and research outside of your lectures and seminars. This isn’t homework and you won’t get into trouble if you don’t do it but it may mean the difference between really excelling on your course and not living up to your true potential. The campus is surrounded by coffee shops that are perfect for plugging your headphones in and getting down to work. There’s not much worse than turning up for a seminar where your peers are discussing a text you haven’t read.


  • Copy from other people or the internet
    This is called plagiarism and it is a very serious offence. Essays with large chunks of text copied and pasted from websites will be rejected and you will fail that portion of your course. There can also be further, more serious repercussions if it seems like you were intentionally cheating by copying someone else’s work. If you want to quote someone else, make sure you clearly and properly reference them in your essay. All your essays are submitted electronically and go through software that can identify whether text came from somewhere else on the internet – even if you change the words slightly. Make sure your work is all your own.
  • Use essay-writing services
    Using an essay-writing service is also considered to be a form of cheating. It is understandable if English is not your first language and you need help writing essays or assignments, but you need to speak to your tutor rather than hiring someone else to do your work for you. Other than being against the rules, it also takes away from your learning experience and means you will get less out of your course.
  • Cite Wikipedia
    Wikipedia is a very useful website and it is excellent for finding out about a subject in general. However, it is also a site that can be changed by anyone and is not fact-checked. Your lecturers will not want to see Wikipedia in your list of sources or references – it’s not only potentially incorrect, it also looks lazy. Try and use proper academic sources for essays.
  • Rely on spell-check
    Apps like Grammarly and the in-built spell-check on Microsoft Word and Google Docs are very good at checking text for mistakes. But, they are not flawless. It is always sensible to read through everything before submitting it – not every mistake is a spelling error and you don’t want to lose marks for things that are easily avoidable.
  • Leave things to the last minute
    This last one is purely for your own peace of mind. When you are rushed, anxious and overworked, you make mistakes and forget things. If you have a certain amount of time to complete a task in, make the most of that time. Plan, write up schedules, make lists. The only person that staying up past midnight the night before a deadline will hurt is you. And possibly your roommate.

If you would like to know more about studying at Northumbria University London, you can view our courses or contact us via email or phone.


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