University of Portsmouth's History Blog

‘Definitely my favourite year’: How to succeed in your final year as a History student

Returning for your third year as a History undergraduate? This blog was written by former History student Emily Fryer, and in it she reflects back on her final year of study and offers tips on how to work through it. Emily graduated in July 2018 with a first class degree.

Third year was definitely my favourite year, it is extremely rewarding. It feels like all the work you have put in during first and second years is coming together, and you are starting to see the results. I personally found the work load way more manageable than second year, mostly thanks to there being no more assessed seminars. There’s also so much choice, so hopefully the units you are doing are extremely interesting and engaging. The group research project is a great opportunity to go deeper into a topic you are passionate about, but maybe didn’t fit into any of your units in previous years.  Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of presentations I am sure that you will like this one, to bring a project from a group idea, investigate it in the archives, and produce a presentation was a process I thoroughly enjoyed.

When someone mentions third year, I’m sure you immediately think of one thing… your dissertation. I know I definitely found the prospect of having to write 10,000 words daunting at first, I found it much easier to break it up in my head. Three chapters, 3,000 words each, its like three essays. Much easier than trying to tackle 10,000 words head on.

Everyone will tell you this, but it truly is the best advice… start early! Use the 10% task as an opportunity to get most of your reading and research done, then you have a solid foundation to continue with the rest of your work.  A lot of what you write for it can be used in your first chapter too.  Another one of my top dissertation tips would be to meet regularly with your tutor, they can help steer you in the right direction and answer any questions that you may have. Lastly, even though it might be hard to motivate yourself as they aren’t assessed and there’s no formal deadlines, make use of the opportunity to hand in your chapter drafts and have them checked by your tutor. I found rewriting or editing chapters after feedback was so helpful.

Careers is something I wish I’d have given more thought to, but it just wasn’t my priority. To be honest, when I wasn’t reading or writing essays the last thing I wanted to do was look or apply for jobs. But, if you are someone like me who has no idea what they want to do after they leave uni, don’t panic. You’ve got years to decide what you want to do, but only one year to be a final year History student. However, I would advise you to keep it in the back of your mind as you go through third year. Make the most of the resources that are available, staff at the careers and recruitment centre are super helpful when it comes to applications or careers advice and they also have a good website.

Third year flies by so make the most of your last year in Portsmouth. It’s easy to get bogged down with uni work, but a good social life is key to being able to do your best work. If there’s somewhere that you and your friends have been talking about going for two years, now’s your chance to go. Take that break from the library and have lunch in Gunwarf. If you haven’t already been for a trip to the Dockyards or a night out on Albert Road I would definitely recommend it. Make time for yourself and your friends and your grades will be better for it.

Good luck and enjoy it!


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