Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

The importance of reading

In this video, Dr Dan Jones, talks about the importance of reading and taking a critical approach in academic study.
OK. So extensive reading is a big part of doing a degree. This may get to explain why it’s sometimes called reading for a degree in the UK. I think reading can sometimes be a little overwhelming, particularly for international students. But you’re not alone in this. Even our home students do find some of the reading to be quite demanding as well.
Yeah. So there’s different types of text you’ll be required to reach whilst at university. These will be articles, textbooks, but probably the gold standard that you’ll be expected to read are peer reviewed journal articles. These are empirically driven. These are reliable, objective, and credible sources of information.
So understanding is a really vital part of reading. If you don’t understand, then you can not use that information when your lecturers may ask you to discuss and debate topics within seminars and tutorials. You may feel a bit uncomfortable at the beginning. And this is perfectly normal. But with support, and with persistence and practise, you’ll gain that understanding. And it will be a wonderful feeling when you get there.
I think there’s various different approaches you can take to your reading throughout your degree. But first and foremost, I think the most important thing is for you to enjoy your degree. If you enjoy your degree, then you will have the motivation to seek out additional reading and do all the reading that is required. Also though our lectures do set reading. And these are often split up into recommended reading and essential reading. What you’re reading for will depend on how you approach that reading, maybe how quickly you read it, or what sort of notes you take during it. And using these strategies and these considerations will enable you to approach your reading in the best way that you can.
So no matter the purpose of your reading, it’s really important to think critically with your reading. And this isn’t simply criticising a text. It’s more about questioning the text. And this allows you to come to your own informed and balanced opinion on the piece. Now some people find critical thinking easier than others. But it is certainly a skill that you can acquire like anything else.
So my three top tips. I think firstly, whatever you’re studying, make sure it’s something that you enjoy. If you enjoy it, then you’re going to be motivated intrinsically to go out and read further about the subject. Secondly, just read. Whatever you’re reading, whether it’s academic, that’s great, but additional reading will really help you. And thirdly, challenge yourself. And by challenge yourself, I mean read counter-arguments. Read opinions that you don’t necessarily agree with. This will start to open your mind and get you thinking critically about the subjects that you’re going to study.

Reading is a key part of your studies, because it’s one of the main ways you access knowledge in your field.

In this video Dr Dan Jones, talks about the types of text you’ll have to read. He makes a distinction between essential reading and recommended reading, suggesting that to a certain extent you have to make decisions about what to read, and the depth in which you read. He emphasises the importance of reading critically, which involves assessing the content of the text in relation to your prior knowledge of the topic, your experience, or other reading you have done on the topic. He recommends reading for enjoyment, reading extensively and reading for a range of different perspectives.

Now you’ve watched the video, we’d like to hear your thoughts.

  • Do you enjoy reading? Why/why not?

  • Do you prefer reading online or on paper? Why?

Share your thoughts in the comments area below. Don’t forget, you can also ‘Like’ and ‘Reply’ to comments made by others.

This article is from the free online

Study UK: Prepare to Study and Live in the UK

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now