Based upon many years of teaching study skills and hundreds of lecture slides and handouts I have pooled together a series of resources to support general and generic skills that relate to media and communications studies. I have published an open access text book, and a series of videos that as well as introducing the mechanics of writing and presentations, also shows how students can work on and engage with the critical and contemplative elements of their degrees whilst retaining motivation and refining timekeeping skills.

The Book

All the tips, ideas and advice given to, and requested by, MA students in Media and Communications, are brought together in an easy-to-use accessible guide to help students study most effectively.

Of course the nuts and bolts of reading, writing, listening, seminars and the dreaded dissertation and essays are covered too. In addition advice on referencing, citation and academic style is offered for those with concerns over English grammar and expression.

Aimed primarily at postgraduate students, there is significant crossover with undergraduate work, so this book will also prove of use to upper level undergraduate readers whether using English as a first or second language.


The complement the book, and of particular use during remote working, I have developed a series of short (generally 5minute long) videos that introduce the key concepts from the book. These videos are free to use and can be embedded within other websites of LMS platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle.

General Study Skills

Managing your time at university

Getting the most from online learning

Apps to help you study

Understanding questions and thesis statements

Understanding questions

Writing thesis statements

Reading lists and critical reading

Six steps to better reading

Critical reading

Summarising and paraphrasing

Seminar and lecture skills

The art of listening

Making notes in class

Getting the most from groupwork

Giving presentations

Planning presentations

Preparing slides for presentations

Giving presentations

Writing an assignment

Planning your work

The shape of essays (Six ideas)

Academic conventions

Key tips to improve your writing

Writing a good essay opener

Synthesising texts

Using attributive verbs

Hedging your bets

Summarising and paraphrasing
Doug Specht is a Reader in Cultural Geography and Communication, a Chartered Geographer (CGeog. FRGS), and Assistant Head of School in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Westminster.

His research examines how knowledge is constructed and codified through digital and cartographic artefacts, focusing on development issues in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, where he has carried out extensive fieldwork. He also writes and researches on pedagogy, and is author of the Media and Communications Student Study Guide.

He speaks and writes on topics of data ethics, development, education and mapping practices at conferences and invited lectures around the world. He is a member of the editorial board at Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, and the journal Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. He is also Chair of the Environmental Network for Central America.