Skills guides

Skills guides

Our guides provide students with the opportunity to develop their study methods. They cover the foundations of university work, from independent reading and note-taking to referencing and essay writing. Click or tap the pair of diagonal arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of each guide to get started.

If any of the vocabulary is unclear, then have a browse of our academic glossary. And remember, students can always get in touch with the Academic Skills team for further advice. We also suggest taking notes using a pad and pen or pencil. Nothing improves understanding and recollection quite like handwritten notes.


The Approaching university study guide focuses on independent and online study. It offers advice to help students work in a productive and rewarding manner.

Want to learn more? If you’re new to university or Edinburgh Napier, you might like to visit our Get Ready site. New postgraduate students may also find the Open University’s postgraduate study skills guide helpful.

The Searching for literature guide offers advice on finding and selecting relevant and reliable research evidence. It covers search engines and databases, search techniques and strategies.

Want to learn more? We encourage students to search for literature using the library’s search site. For subject-specific advice, consult the university’s LibGuides.


The References and citations guide introduces the most important characteristics of author-date citations and references. As such, it will be most helpful for students asked to follow APA or ‘Harvard’ referencing guidelines.

Want to learn more? When it comes to referencing, the most important thing students can do is download the relevant school’s referencing guidelines. For more referencing related resources, visit our Resource bank.

The Academic integrity and handling evidence guide provides more advice on how to describe and respond to research evidence (also known as “sources”). It covers paraphrasing, handling multiple sources in quick succession, and academic integrity.

Want to learn more? MIT has a guide to paraphrasing that students might find helpful. Manchester University’s Academic Phrasebank is also a well-trusted resource for student writers.


The higher the level of study, the more likely it is that tutors will use phrases like ‘critical analysis’ and ‘critique.’ This Working critically guide helps students to think, read and write ‘critically.’

Want to learn more? Edinburgh Napier students can access Palgrave’s Critical thinking skills guide online. (Be sure to log-in using your university credentials.) It’s an extensive, reliable and trusted source of advice.

The Structuring essays guide considers how to write clear, well organised essays. It covers the writing of introductions and conclusions, and suggests language that can help to improve an essay’s overall intelligibility and sense of purpose.

Want to learn more? The University of Birmingham has a good and concise guide to essay planning and structure. Manchester University’s Academic Phrasebank can also help students to find the right words for introductions, transitions, conclusions, and so on.


If you have any questions, or would like personal study or writing advice, then send us an email:

academicskills@napier.ac.uk