You’ve just been given your first assignment. Not sure how to approach it? Confused about what you need to do, what topic to choose or just where to start?

OK, breathe! The Library is here to help.

To help you get started with your assignment, check out our Understanding the Assignment online guide available on Research & Learning Online (RLO) which has many useful resources to assist and support you.

Understanding the Assignment is aimed at providing strategies, tips and advice on how to break down your topic, gather your thoughts and ideas and how to tackle assignments effectively.  No matter what course you are doing, you are likely to have assignments to research and write during your studies.

There are four tutorials for you to explore:

  • Analysing the task requirements
  • Brainstorming and mind mapping
  • Developing research questions
  • Assignment direction words.

Each tutorial contains detailed explanations with a mix of self paced activities to help you build your skills.  Broken down into logical components of understanding assignments, activities include:

  • Identifying what is needed in different types of assignments
  • Considering how to break down the topic. What are the key phrases, what are the direction words.
  • Creating a mind map, as a way of helping you work out your thoughts and ideas
  • Developing good research questions
  • Interpretation of direction words such as ‘Describe’ OR ‘Discuss’ OR ‘Evaluate’

Remember to read the assignment instructions thoroughly and check the marking rubric (the assessment criteria) if available.

The RLO also has information about typical assignments within each discipline. You should also refer to these resources which will help you to understand what’s required in the form of assignments you will encounter during your studies.


About the author:  Caroline Knaggs is a Subject Librarian at the Law Library