How to Study From Home for Postgrads

Summer has gone now and I'm back to university, but this time as a postgraduate student. If you’re a Masters student like me, I’m sure you will agree that our timetable is pretty intense; with virtual learning and the majority of the semester being online, we can expect several hours of online lectures.

However, whether you’re a undergraduate or a postgraduate student, it can be difficult to manage how much time we spend on our computer. This includes online lectures, combined with readings, which have also been made digital; many students even prefer to write their notes on their laptops. Lots of societies are also introducing virtual events to compensate for the lack of face-to-face events. As a postgraduate student, you only have one more year at university and you may feel pressured to enrol onto any additional modules and join as many societies as you can. This can be harmful to us as we are exposed to too much screen time.

As postgraduates, we benefit from having years of experience studying. You should know how you best study by now; although with the current pandemic, you may not be able to access all the resources you need. Therefore, I have put together a list of tips which are also aimed at reducing your daily screen time and keeping your mental health in check whilst at home.


1.    Set a daily schedule weekly planner on a tablet Study smart. Plan out a study schedule and plan for study breaks. Use a diary or a whiteboard, whichever you have access to and prefer. A whiteboard can be hung on the wall, so if you live with anyone, they’ll know your schedule. Using a diary or whiteboard are also good ways to avoid having to check your online calendar.

2.    Take a break  

Woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring Photo by Jared Rice from Unsplash Since the semester is online, spend your break going for a walk or exercising and getting some fresh air; this will help you generate energy and stimulate blood flow to the brain and even get some vitamin D. You can take a break by cooking up a healthy meal and exploring your inner chef.  

3.    Prioritise  

Prioritise your mental wellbeing, take time out for yourself and ensure you sleep at least 7 hours. Sleeping enough ensures that you can function properly, which means you can study better and be more awake during online lectures. Also, prioritise what you take on; studying at postgraduate level means that there is a lot of reading and a lot of assignments. Whilst additional modules and societies will make you look more attractive to employers, make sure you have enough time to take them on. This also goes with tip number 1 in terms of studying. Think about what you need to do today and get that done first.  

4.    Use a specific study space  

Original Photo by Leilani Steinberger Ideally a place that is quiet where you can concentrate. If that place is at home and you live with people, it lets them become familiar with your study space and lets them know not to disturb you. If you don’t have a desk or the space for one, don’t give up there! Buy a mini lap desk or a foldable table from Ebay or Amazon; they are often cheap and you can place them anywhere. If it is difficult to study at home, go to the library where you’re guaranteed a quiet workspace. I recommend checking the local library opening times as they may vary due to differences in COVID rates. 

5.    Handwrite your notes Handwriting helps us to retain more information, therefore it is better than typing. It is also a good way of spending less time on your laptop; however, it can be more time consuming. I use Oxford campus notebooks. You can write your notes up and then scan them through on to the Scribzee app. I highly recommend this if you prefer to have your notes backed up and organised online, but you also prefer to write your notes out.  For assignments, they have to be typed out so prepare for long hours of assignment work with the night light setting which will reduce eye strain and help you fall asleep, even if you are on your laptop late at night. 

6.  Stay in contact with your personal tutor and lecturers Woman with curly hair waving and saying hi to someone through her laptop. Photo by Yan from Pexels

Your lecturers and personal tutor are there to help. Reach out to your lecturers if you feel like you are struggling or need help with any modules, and update your personal tutor regularly. Developing a good rapport with your tutors will be useful for the duration of your study and they can help provide you with a reference upon completion of your degree.  

Whilst it is difficult to reduce spending time online as technology is becoming increasingly easier and quicker, some of the tips outlined above can help reduce screen time and make it easier to study from home. As it is your last year studying, above all, try to make the most of it and enjoy yourself in the process!