If you’ve enrolled in postgrad study, chances are you have a pretty impressive academic record behind you already. Still, a Masters Degree or Doctorate is quite challenging; they are, after all, the very highest qualifications you can achieve.
The structure of the work will vary – Coursework students will have a schedule of lectures, assignments and exams, while Research students will have a far more open-ended and independent journey ahead of them – but there are a number of critical skills and resources every postgrad student will require.
Though you may have studied at university before, don’t assume that you won’t need any kind of assistance, or that you shouldn’t seek it out. The University is home to a small army of librarians, Learning Advisors, Student Peer Advisors, Graduate Research staff and other support teams, all experts in their field and just waiting to help you. Get in touch with them. Use them. You’d be silly not to.
The University’s libraries are your best academic resource, and they’re situated at every UON campus – and online! Between them, they house thousands of theses, journal articles and publications, as well as a vast collection of music, images and other creative works.
They’re also home to a collection of brainy and eccentric librarians, who will happily assist you in locating relevant sources and citing them correctly in your own work.
Where are they?
At Callaghan campus, there are two libraries, one on either side.
The Auchmuty Library is on the west side (just across from the Shortland Building), and includes individual and group study spaces, a learning lounge, information commons, wi-fi and survival stations, as well as a café. It also includes, of course, a massive multi-storey archive of books, journals and other resources; according to urban legend, the lower stacks are haunted, so it’s best to carry a flashlight and a jar of salt with you at all times.
On the east side, the Huxley Library (inside the Hunter Building) keeps resources related to Education, Nursing, Medical Radiation Science, Fine Art and Photography. It, too, has an information common with computer labs and study spaces, including a dedicated postgrad study room on the bottom floor! Here you’ll find both Macs and Windows PCs (depending on your allegiance), and a clutch of enclosed study nooks made from soft, fuzzy materials. It’s like a big hug from a teddy bear while you work.
At City campus, NeW Space hosts the university’s newest library on Level 1 – if you look up and to your right as you enter the lobby, you can’t miss it. The library has group study rooms, collaborative areas, computer work stations, lounges, quiet study spaces and 24-hour common areas. The glass walls give you a commanding view of the city as well, so be sure to look up from your book occasionally and reacquaint yourself with the outside world.
Central Coast campus is home to a gorgeous library – it’s the giant multi-storey building that faces the quad, near the car parks on The Boulevard. Ourimbah’s library is shared between the University of Newcastle and TAFE NSW, and houses resources for both, so there’s a wealth of information for you to access; there’s also a tasty little café, Blue Gum, in the front foyer.
Sydney campus has a library as well, with resources tailored specifically to the schools of Accounting and Finance, International Business, Management and Marketing.
No ghosts here. Yet.
If you’re an online student (or just don’t like sitting in a giant book mausoleum – it’s not for everyone), many of the university’s resources are also online! Just go to the Library page on the UON website and look for the ‘Access’ panel down the left side; there you’ll find a number of search options.
Library Catalogue: Search through library records and a selection of databases. You can also narrow your search to a particular format/medium, such as books or articles. A good place to start if you’re gathering info.
Databases by Title: The University has more than 430 different databases across every field you can think of! (Depending on how imaginative you are, I suppose). They’re alphabetised; you can search them all at once, or narrow the list to a particular school.
Subject Resource Guides: This is especially handy. Select your school or discipline and you’ll see a list of relevant books/articles, databases, tips, study guides and other resources.
NOVA: This option is under ‘Researcher Support’ rather than ‘Access’, but it’s useful for coursework students as well. NOVA is the University of Newcastle’s online digital repository, where every thesis and journal article is filed at the end of the submission process. There are currently over 30,000 in storage, and you can use an advanced search to filter out the ones you’re looking for.
A lot of new students find it helpful to read up on other work being done in their field; sometimes, reading completed theses can simply give you an idea of how best to structure them, or the best tone to adopt. Make good use of it, and remember – one day, when you complete your thesis, it’ll end up here too.
Located on the main quad, Ourimbah’s library features a central atrium and modern design. Tremendously haunted, though. Just riddled with ghosts. Oh my, yes.
If you’re a research student, get to know your Senior Research Librarians. They’re experts in accessing and referencing academic sources in their respective faculties; they run regular workshops on these topics (including the use of Endnote – an absolute must), and can organise one-on-one consults if you need.
Finally, did you know that, as an off-campus student, you can borrow books from any campus and have them posted to you for free? Pretty awesome, right? There are a couple of conditions – you need to be living at least a certain distance from any UON campus, and they must be sent to an Australian address – but otherwise, shipping is covered and the return date is extended to allow for travel.
Regardless of your discipline or level of study, there are certain academic skills you’ll absolutely need to get to the finish line: effective and efficient reading, analytical writing, sustained argument, a critical literature review. If you haven’t been a student for a while, or if English is not your first language, that may all sound pretty terrifying. Or perhaps you just want to know how to write more clearly, or how to keep improving your English language fluency.
If you need to brush up on these skills, Learning Development is your very best friend on campus. They’re part of the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and their job is to help you develop academic writing and speaking skills. They can also help you with maths and statistics.
Learning Advisers run workshops and individual consultations throughout the year. And it’s all free! You’ll find a list of all their services here on their website. Check out their schedule of workshops, have a look through their online resources and tip sheets, and book yourself in for a face-to-face or phone consult. For coursework assignments, they can also give feedback via e-consult or email.
Those of you that are studying a PhD or Research Masters degree will quickly become familiar with UON Graduate Research. They’re the team that administrates all postgrad research degrees at the university – they take care of everything from recruitment to scholarship applications, rules and regulations, confirmation, progress reports and, of course, the final submission and assessment of your thesis. Essentially, they’re the overseers of your candidature, so it’s important to know who they are and how to get in touch with them.
UON Graduate Research is located in Block C, Room G30 of the Newcastle Institute for Energy Resources (NIER) complex, north of Auchmuty Library in the far north-western corner of Callaghan campus. They’re open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm.
It’s a long and perilous journey on foot – if you’re walking there, we recommend you plan in advance, pack the necessary food, water and supplies, and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Or, you can just call them on (02) 4921 6537 or email them at
Just take a right at Mount Doom. Can’t miss it.
Last year, Graduate Research launched a new initiative called the Student Peer Advice (SPA) and Support Scheme. If you’re a research student and need help during your candidature, who better to ask than other research students who’ve been through it all ahead of you?
Student Peer Advisors are postgrad research students employed by the university to give support and guidance whenever you need it. They can help you with anything from software (like NVivo, Endnote and Excel) to adapting to a new academic culture, professional networking, and more.
You can book a one-on-one session with a SPA online, here. Did we mention it’s free?
It’s like your own personal Pai Mei.
Hey, that’s us! NUPSA provides all kinds of things for postgrad students at UON (you can get a full overview on our website, here), including academic workshops that build your skills and prepare you for graduation and beyond. Throughout the year, we work with different University teams to teach you everything from time management to preparing for a job interview, dealing with stress, self-advocacy, conflict resolution, assertive communication, public speaking, mindfulness and meditation. All the good stuff.
We advertise all of our workshops – along with our social events, club meetings and other activities – on our event calendar. Get into the habit of checking this each week regularly, so you don’t miss out on anything important.
We also (wherever we can) run our workshops as online webinars, so those of you studying at satellite campuses or off-campus can jump in and participate! And these are recorded and made available to download on our online workshop page at any time, because we love you thiiiiiiis much.