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General FAQs

What other services can I get help from while studying at university?

Please find below contact details for Brunel University services:

Student Support and Welfare Team (part of the Student Centre, includes Disability and Dyslexia Service (DDS), Mental Health Advisers, and Counselling)



Brunel Language Centre

Student Centre

Union of Brunel Students

Professional Development Centre (PDC), and

 your TPO.

How can I get help with my modules?

If you have a question about your course content you should contact the lecturer for the course, or the module leader. 

Is ASK available over the summer?

ASK functions as normal over the summer. You can book an appointment to see an ASK adviser online for academic writing support, up to one appointment a day! Book a slot via the following link: Book a 1-2-1 Writing & Learning appointment.

You can submit a 500-word extract of your writing using the following writing sample form: Writing Sample submission form. Over summer you can submit 1 writing sample. Please allow 4 working days for this service.

Our Maths and Statistics advisers are also available over summer and throughout the term time, and you can email ASK to set up an appointment.

How many times can I get advice from ASK?

You can book to see an ASK adviser as many times as you need to, although each student can only book one appointment per day.

Can ASK proof read my dissertation?

ASK Advisers do not offer a proofreading service but you can send us a 500 word sample of your dissertation so we can provide feedback on the style and structure of your writing. You are allowed to send us one writing sample per term, including the summer. You just need to download and complete the Writing Sample Submission Sheet and email it to

Where are the ASK 1-2-1 writing and learning appointments held?

You can make an appointment to see an adviser if you have any questions about your writing or study skills. Appointments last 20 minutes and students can only book themselves one slot per day. 

During the summer our appointments are at the following times:

  • Mondays 1pm - 3pm (online)
  • Tuesdays 1pm - 3pm (online)
  • Wednesdays 1pm - 3pm (on campus)

We have appointments on campus and online using Microsoft Teams. You can choose one of these options per day.

When you book an appointment, you will receive an email confirmation which has the information on the location of your on campus slot, or a link to your MS Teams appointment enclosed.

Like a normal appointment you are expected to attend on time, so please:

  • be punctual so that you do not lose your time slot.
  • if online, please do not call before your scheduled appointment time, the adviser may be in another call and cannot answer your call.
  • only book 1 slot per day. Multiple bookings will be cancelled.

If you need to cancel your appointment please email the ASK team at: or click the 'change your appointment' or 'manage your appointment' link in your appointment confirmation email.

For more information or to book an appointment outside the above availability please email the ASK team at

If you have any questions, which have not been answered here, please email ASK at, and will we respond to your query or direct you to the appropriate person, team or service for assistance.

First Year FAQs

How is studying at university different from studying at sixth-form or further education college?

Studying at university requires you to be an independent learner. You are expected to manage your studies, your time and meet deadlines. You will not be chased for your assignments or reminded about submitting your work. 

Does independent learning mean that I will not be supported with my studies?

No. There are many services available to support you, however you need to be proactive by seeking support early: do not wait until the last minute. Use any opportunities that you have been provided to get assistance.

What is a reading list, and do I have to read everything on that list?

A reading list is a list of key (core or essential), and additional (or recommended or other reading) sources that your lecturer provides you to help you understand the topic, and write your assignments. You do not have to read everything on the list. Start with the key (core or essential) sources as your tutors would expect you or ask you to read these. As you get to understand the topic, you can skim (abstract, introduction, conclusion) and scan (contents page, index pages) the additional sources to see if they are relevant for your assignment. You can use this same strategy when reading key sources, with reading in detail the relevant parts of the material.

How can I get the best out of my studies?

Attendance is key to your development, progression, and success at university. Ensure that you attend all lectures, seminars, lab sessions, and relevant events and workshops outside of your timetabled studies, such as academic skills workshops, or employability events.

Be organised by creating a timetable with your work, life, and study commitments to help you manage these effectively.

Plan your studies. Map all your assignment deadlines in a calendar, or diary and work backwards. Plan time to find your sources, read, write your assignments, and study for exams in advance of your deadlines.

Where do I find information about my studies?

1. e-Vision

This is the student portal where you will find general information about your studies, and administrative tasks relating to this, such as your programme of study details.

2. Blackboard Learn (BBL)

This is Brunel’s virtual learning environment where you can find learning resources, and activities that you can use for studying on your modules. You can also get information about your studies from your TPO (Taught Programme Office).

How do I find reliable sources to use in my assignments?

Use the library's databases to help you find appropriate sources. You can get support from your Academic Liaison Librarian (ALL) with finding sources, how to use the library's databases, and with referencing. Find out who your ALL is via the following link.

What is the expectation for university writing?

Depending on your programme, you will undertake a range of academic writing activities such as essays, reports, presentations, etc. Your tutors may have different requirements and expectationsfor each writing task.

Academic writing, regardless of the subject, has a set of conventions that you are expected to follow. Academic writing is formal, critical, concise, objective, avoids using emotive and judgmental language, and presented in a clear and logical structure.

Consider writing as a process done in stages: planning, researching/reading, writing drafts, editing/proof-reading. Following these stages will help you manage your writing and clarify your thinking and ideas, so you are better able to express yourself to your reader.

How can ASK help me in my first year of study?

ASK can help you with further developing your academic skills (academic writing, stats or SPSS, or Maths and numeracy) through individual appointments, central workshops and events that are run.

There are three types of support within ASK:

Writing and learning: The ‘Introductory Series’ workshops introduces students to the fundamentals of writing skills needed at university. This includes writing for assignments, referencing, and so forth. More information can be found on our central timetable. 

Statistics and SPSS: Online short videos and materials are available to get students up to speed with statistics at university. These includes sessions on Probability, Independence, and so forth that can help you prepare for using statistics at university.  We also assist with statistical software (SPSS and Excel), statistics required for your course, and questionnaire design and quantitative analysis.

Maths and Numeracy: ‘Back to Maths’ event will take place early in term 1. Click the following link to access the Back to Maths event on Blackboard:

Back to Maths (BBL login required)

Peer assisted learning (PAL) is also a great way to learn the skills needed at university while meeting and networking with students in your course. You can find more information about PAL via this link.

For further information about the ASK service, events and workshops, please visit ASK at:

Second Year FAQs

What can ASK help me achieve in second year?

Generally, there is more writing required in second year. This means writing longer and more reports or assignments. In addition, the degree of critical writing is usually higher. ASK can help with how to structure reports and essays, how to raise your writing from being descriptive to more critical and strategies to manage workflow to meet deadlines. ASK can also offer support with Maths and Statistics to help you keep up to date with these skills.

Is second year harder?

Generally, there is more writing required in second year and the degree of critical writing is usually higher.

Can I contact ASK while on placement?

You can contact us to discuss any aspect of your writing and learning while on placement. We can talk to you about time management hacks, reflective writing, placement report writing or presentations, and more.

How can I prepare now for my Final Year?

Now is the time to make sure that you are up to speed with your writing skills, time management skills and that you have been practicing your critical thinking and writing skills. You will need them for third year. Most people can sharpen up these skills in a relatively short time and ASK can support you to do this

My placement asks for a report. How do I do this?

Report writing follows a few basic principles, and often includes some aspect of ‘Reflective Writing’. ASK can talk you through what the common features of reports are and how to ensure that any Reflective Writing you need to do is on point.

How can I become a PAL leader?

PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) is a great way to pick up some really good skills and experience for working life. PAL leaders work in pairs to plan and facilitate sessions for first year students. PAL sessions are informal and of a workshop style devised to be fun and interactive to encourage group work and discussions. Find out more about PAL via this link.

I have to re-sit an exam or resubmit a paper. How can ASK help?

ASK can help with exam preparation by discussing exam preparation techniques, such as strategically focussing your revision program, time management and tips for maximising your time in exams as well as dealing with exam nerves. ASK advisers can provide support, advice and tips for re-submitting a paper or dissertation, dealing with feedback and managing deadlines.

Third Year FAQs

I am about to start writing my final year dissertation and I don’t know how to start. What support do you offer?

The ASK team offers a wide variety of support for undergraduate students about to embark on their dissertation, such as individual appointments in academic writing, statistics/SPSS and Maths and numeracy.

Additionally, ASK runs an event specifically designed for final year students. In term 2, ASK runs Undergraduate Dissertation Week (UGDW), a dedicated week of workshops specifically focused on all aspects of dissertation structure, research and writing. You can find more information about UGDW on our Blackboard pages here.

I haven’t come up with a research question yet, can ASK help me with this?

No, it is necessary to have discussions with your dissertation supervisor within your department regarding developing (and getting signed-off) your research question.

Does ASK help with getting ethical approval requests done through BREO?

Ethical approval for conducting research lies with Brunel Research Ethics Online (BREO) team. You can find more information about ethics approval via this link.

For technical queries relating to BREO contact:

Where do I find out information about the word limit of my dissertation and how to structure it?

Each academic department will give specific instructions regarding the length and structure of the dissertation and there can be significant differences with these depending on the discipline studied. In the first instance we recommend carefully reading your module handbook, as well as any other supplementary guidelines sent by you lecturers and/or Taught Programme Officers (TPOs). ASK Advisers can, however, advise on the structuring of sections of your dissertation, such as the introduction, literature review, methodology and discussion sections.

Is the literature review for my dissertation different to ones I have done earlier in my studies?

For many dissertations the literature review provides an opportunity to justify the importance and validity of your research question in the context of published research. In this sense, the literature review may be similar to previous ones you may have written in terms of critically evaluating evidence and incorporating research into your writing, but there is an additional purpose in which it provides a rationale for your specific research project. ASK Advisers offer a lot of targeted to support to final year students with all aspects of their literature reviews, including 1-2-1 tutorials, online resources and workshops, especially in Week 18 during Undergraduate Dissertation Week.

I have my research question signed off but how do I get started with conducting and organising research?

Organising your research is a crucial step towards writing up a successful dissertation and ASK Advisers have plenty of expertise in this area, while working closely with your Academic Liaison Librarian who can also help with aspects of this process - especially with navigating the online research databases that you will need in order to access peer review journal articles.

Look out for specific workshops on organising and incorporating research in your writing throughout the term and particularly in Undergraduate Dissertation Week. Academic Skills Advisers do also meet with individual students to discuss approaches to organising their research.

Can ASK help me with my reference list?

Your Academic Liaison Librarian (ALL) can help with your reference list, as well as with using assistive software such as RefWorks. You may find the folowing link to the library’s referencing page helpful also.

I have to give a presentation on the key findings of my dissertation. Can ASK help me with this?

ASK Advisers run workshops on presentations skills, so do check out the timetable of central workshops for the next available workshop. Additionally, you may find that one of the ASK Advisers ddelivers a workshop on this theme within your department. It may also be possible for an ASK Adviser to offer a dress-rehearsal of your presentation- either in groups or individually- and offer feedback Please email if you would like to meet with an ASK Adviser about this.

I have many deadlines and things to do in my final year of studies! Can ASK help me to manage my time effectively?

Absolutely! In addition to running specific workshops on this theme, ASK Advisers are able to work closely with students to help manage their time and timetable their academic commitments. You may also find the relevant resources page on our Blackboarn Learn pages also.

Postgraduate FAQs

Does ASK provide support specifically for Master’s students?

Most of our workshops are aimed at undergraduates, but are also useful for Master’s students as refresher sessions. All students are welcome at our workshops, regardless of subject or level of study.

ASK runs a Master’s Dissertation Week (MDW) at the end of Term 2, which is designed specifically for Master’s students. This week-long series of sessions focuses on the whole dissertation process.  Details for this will be sent to all Master’s students via email prior to MDW, and will be also be advertised on the ASK website, social media and BBL page. You can view slide from the last MDW event via the following link:

Master's Dissertation Week Blackboard page (BBL login required)

How is studying at the Master’s level different than undergraduate studies?

Your Master’s degree represents a higher level of study than an undergraduate degree, and you will thus be expected to work at a higher level.  You will need to demonstrate more in-depth critical analysis and understanding of your subject, and you will work more independently than you did as an undergraduate. 

What kind of support is available for my dissertation?

In addition to Master’s Dissertation Week, ASK offers central writing workshops throughout Terms 1 and 2 that are related to the dissertation. These workshops are designed primarily for undergraduates, but are also useful for Master’s students. In particular, we offer workshops on writing a literature review, writing an effective discussion chapter, as well as statistical/ SPSS workshops and office hours.

Details for these workshops can be found on the ASK tab on Blackboard Learn here.

You can also book an appointment via this link to get individual support for your dissertation writing. Please note that we cannot approve dissertation topics or offer content advice; only your supervisor can do that.