My typical day working on an assignment

Amy Nugent
Bill Bryson Lilbrary

What is student life all about… Lectures? Libraries? Parties?

Though I’d hope every student would be familiar with at least the first two of those, there is one truly inescapable part of the student journey that everyone will have to face at some point… Assignments.


Assignments are funnelled into two different categories here at Durham: formatives – which are great opportunities to express your ideas and get feedback, with their grades not contributing to your end-of-year mark, and summatives – which, for better or for worse, count toward your end-of-year mark. As a Liberal Arts student who is currently taking modules in English Literature, Management and Marketing (Business), and Visual Arts and Film, these assignments have come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from essays to reports to presentations. However, as with any studies, it’s just as important to give yourself a break and take care of yourself, and you might find yourself doing this in new ways when you start your journey here as a Durham student.

My day working on a 3000-word summative

9am – woke up and ate breakfast. Although I often get up earlier to attend 9 am lectures or seminars, I caught a lie-in today which I always like doing if I think I’m going to be spending a long time studying, or if I think I’m going to have a late night. Though sometimes I can stay up quite late, I’m not the kind of person who wants to study without much sleep – pulling all-nighters is not for me!

10am – though I’d usually be studying by this time either at home or in the library, I was instead doing some art for one of my extra-curricular projects. In general, I find art to be a lovely way to start the day, as it always makes me feel relaxed and gives me a nice small task to complete, which makes me feel more confident before I get to work on my summative.

11am – arrived at my lecture. After a very busy start to my week, I was relieved to not have too many contact hours on this day. I have been loving my lectures for this particular module so I was really looking forward to going.

12pm – headed to the library. Although I had pretty much studied exclusively in the main library in my first year, I prefer mixing it up now by studying in different spots. I didn’t stay long as I got distracted by the idea of lunch.

1pm – Lunch – is it ever a good idea to do your summative on an empty stomach? After eating, I decided to get on with my summative at home.

5pm – after working on my summative for a few hours and catching some breaks, I needed to get out of the house and go for a walk. I headed to my friend’s house for a catch-up. As they didn’t have the same assignment, it helped me to clear my head a bit rather than becoming fixated on my work.

8pm – with dinner over, and feeling nourished because of my break, I was back at my desk again. Instead of forcing myself to work for a certain number of hours in a day, I usually try to set myself a goal to reach to stop myself from getting distracted by looking at the clock.

10pm – at this point, I was feeling like I was at my limit and happy with what I achieved. In summative season, movies are my go-to for relaxing. I tend to go back to my favourites so I feel like I can switch them off when I get tired, rather than getting drawn into something new. Even better if you can watch with a friend or housemate to feel like you’ve put your summative out of your mind.

12am – sleep. I might have to do it all again tomorrow, but summatives don’t go on forever. The most important thing you can do is give yourself breaks for rest and your hobbies. I also like to make sure I’ve planned some easy meals in advance so I don’t have to think about going shopping or doing extensive meal prep (even better if you are living in catered accommodation and don’t have to worry about this at all!).

If you are interested in what kind of assignments you will get in your modules, check out the Durham University List of Modules by Department here

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Amy Nugent

Hi, I’m Amy and here at Durham I study Liberal Arts at Grey College. In my spare time I can be found dancing like there’s nobody watching, getting stuck into my latest art project, or writing kooky stories in one of Durham's many beautiful spots.

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