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Study skills

Self-help books on Study skills


There are so many popular psychology texts in the shops that it can be difficult to know where to begin. This set of book-lists was compiled by staff of the University Counselling Service to respond to those students who have asked us what they might read on this topic.

Our selection is not intended to be the 'final word' - we are sure that there are many other good and helpful books out there; in any case we recognise that what is helpful is very subjective and depends on personal circumstances.

Books are listed in alphabetical order by author. Copies of some of these books are available to borrow on a weekly basis from the University Counselling Service.


The descriptions given are intended to provide a summary of the contents but should not be taken to imply that the Counselling Service endorses the opinions expressed.

Study skills

Date of information: Jan 2006, updated June 2010

The Will Power Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters and What You Can do to Get More of it
Kelly McGonigal, 2011

The author brings together the latest research findings in neuroscience and social psychology. She is a health psychologist at Stanford School of Medicine where she teaches a course called "The Science of Willpower". The book's 10 chapters relect her 10-week course, written in an interesting and easy style.

Successful Study For Degrees
Rob Barnes, Routledge, 2004

A guide seeking to show how to study more effectively at first and higher degree levels. Aimed at students looking for more than just a basic study skills book, it is structured so that topics such as basic essay writing feed into chapters on dissertation preparation and writing.

How to Research
Loraine Blaxter, Christina Hughes and Malcolm Tight, Open University Press, 4th edition 2010

Discusses the practice and experience of doing research in the social sciences as well as in related subjects such as education, business studies, and health and social care.

Writing At University: A Guide for Students
Phyllis Creme and Mary R. Lea, Open University Press, 2003

This guide aims to help students to tackle writing assignments more confidently and competently. Suggests strategies and techniques that can be used to gain more control over their own writing.

The Procrastinator's Handbook: Mastering the art of doing it now
Rita Emmett, Walker & Co, 2000

Describes the circumstances that trigger and sustain putting off behaviour and what procrastinators need and want. Identifies the behavioural styles and patterns procrastinators use for putting things off, apply proven anti-procrastination tips and techniques for achieving goals, and develop strategies to move forward when stuck or reverting to patterns.

Getting down to writing - a student's guide to overcoming writer's block
Caroline Hall, Peter Francis Publishers, 1994

Addresses questions such as "Why is it so hard to get down to writing?" and "Can it be made any easier?" Written by a student counsellor familiar with the issues involved.

Academic Writing Course
R R Jordan, Longman ELT, 1999

Intended for students starting a tertiary level course in higher education, this book addresses a wide range of aspects of academic writing, from the details of accurate grammatical construction, pronunciation and spelling to appropriate style choices. Ten appendices form a bank of support material, cross-referenced from the main units. A glossary of examination and essay terms and an extensive key are also included.

Isn't It About Time?: How to Overcome Procrastination and Get on with Your Life
Andrea Perry, Worth, 2002

Groundbreaking work on a subject that affects us all from a top British professional. More than half the book is devoted to detailed and practical suggestions on how to become more effective and creative.

Overcoming Perfectionism
Roz Shafran, Sarah Egan and Tracey Wade, Robinson, 2010

A CBT self-help book describing techniques to help you overcome your problematic perfectionism.