How to achieve success in your coursework through research

Daniel 150

Coursework makes up a significant component of the MPharm degree, and many students, especially those close to grade boundaries, find that this provides them with the opportunity to turn that 2:2 into a 2:1, or that 2:1 into a 1st class degree. What sets coursework apart from the rest of the degree content is that it’s not so much a test of your knowledge and recall, but a test of your research application; with the right approach everyone can improve their grades through coursework.

Thoroughly research your subject area
Don’t aim for the low hanging fruit (although mention this too!) what will get you the higher marks for your coursework is mentioning ideas concepts and studies at the cutting edge of the field, this means closing your textbooks and looking at research databases. Your university librarians will be able to help you with this, as you will have access to thousands of e-Journals though your library. Start with PubMed and google scholar to see what there is out there, then do a thorough literature review of your subject.

Your assessors want to see not just ‘Rang Ritter & Dale’ in your bibliographies, but Nature and the Lancet too, alongside many other journals.

Plan your work out first
Following your literature search you’re probably going to be bursting with ideas about what to write and where to take your coursework, but it’s always a good idea to take a step back and plan out your work. Start with an introduction of the topic using conventional sources, then as you delve deeper you’re going to want to mention the research you’ve discovered and what this means to your field of study. A good rule of thumb is to introduce a fact, statistic or point, back this up with evidence (and citation!) and then comment on its significance. Finally don’t forget to weave all these threads into a coherent conclusion to summarise your work. Do this for each of the topics and studies you’ve uncovered and soon you’ll have a substantial body of work.

Reference everything
Whether your assessors prefer Harvard or Vancouver style referencing, you’re going to need to get familiar with demonstrating where your ideas have come from. Your lecturers need to know that what they’re reading is based on solid evidence and research. When it comes to references you really can’t have too many, as long as it stays relevant. It’s good to have a wide variety of different sources, from different kinds of studies in differing journals, to textbooks, and websites also. Find out more about how to reference your coursework.

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