“Unfortunately, working with information, defining reliable and relevant sources, and active reading are skills that are not taught in high school; so, I consider this course the basis for most of the courses at SSE Riga,” points out SSE Riga student Maria Bohush.

Academic vocabulary and terminology, referencing, plagiarism, teamwork and presentation skills – the course provides essential tips that students should need for studies. So, it is no coincidence that Academic Studies and Critical Thinking is the first course in the Bachelor's programme.

As Course lecturer Christoper Rieber explains: “Particular attention is paid to how to read academic articles in English, how to form valid and sound arguments, and how to perform research at university successfully.”

“The course focuses students' attention on critical thinking and standards of evidence that are crucial to success at university. Discussions highlight the differences between high school and university work with an eye to helping students make the transition to the more independent, self-motivated style of learning that is necessary for success,” continues Christopher.

Second-year student Maria confirms: “At SSE Riga, you get to work with information all the time: writing reports for Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, for example, requires reading tonnes of papers on your topic and computing it together. To my mind, without the knowledge gained during this course, it might take months to do that kind of research. With it, on the other hand, you can write a quality paper in a much shorter time, as you already know what you are doing.”

The content of the Academic Studies and Critical Thinking course centres around the problem of climate change, a topic that newly-admitted students are especially keen to explore. Students work both individually and in groups to broaden their knowledge of the impact of climate change and prepare a final report on one aspect of the phenomenon. This also helps them to quickly bond and learn teamwork skills.

Students finish the Academic Studies and Critical Thinking course with a thorough understanding of the writing standards that are expected at SSE Riga. The faculty also emphasise such important skills as time management and note-taking that will aid students in taking on the workload at SSE Riga.

Maria encourages potential students: “During the course, you will learn to decide what data is relevant for your purpose, to assess critically what you have read, and, finally, to put all the information you've found in your own original paper, avoiding plagiarism. All these skills are essential for any writing one will do during their studies, that's why I think that particularly this course is an indispensable part of the programme.”

"I came in with expectations that we will mostly only learn about economics and finance. This course helped improve critical thinking and argumentation skills which are useful both in life and further SSE Riga studies. I think that the most valuable takeaway from the course is critical evaluation of your own arguments and how to find flaws in the arguments of others. Now I win (almost) every argument at home," adds another student Stanislavs Kulss.