English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2 University assignments

At British universities, students are asked to carry out written tasks called assignments and submit them to their tutors by a set date. Assignments are part of the assessment process and, while most assignments are completed at home, some will take the form of a formal examination.

Like any other piece of writing you have written so far, assignments are written for a reason and follow a specific structure. The key is to understand these reasons and learn which structure you are expected to follow.

Students are asked to write assignments for a number of reasons:

  • to demonstrate that they understand the subject matter they are being taught
  • to show that they can explain key ideas and information in their own words
  • to show that they can use what they have learned to solve real life problems
  • to demonstrate that they can evaluate, compare and contrast different views
  • to gain feedback from their tutors on their understanding and use of course content.

Depending on the specific purpose of each assignment, university students are asked to write a range of assignment types. For example, they use summaries and definitions to simply describe what they have learned from their readings. They use essays to discuss what they have learned and to show that they can use their learning to make sense of real world situations. Finally, they use reports to describe or analyse a situation and provide recommendations.

The next section looks more closely at assignment types, their purpose and structure.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371