The Fields’ guide to the internet: How to gain real knowledge online

January 29, 2021

At The Fields in Hatfield, we’re committed to creating a fun, enriching environment for students.

That means providing safe, secure and comfortable living spaces, with plenty of opportunity to socialise. But what about the serious business of studying? University is an intellectual adventure. It doesn’t always feel like that, especially when you’re cramming for exams. But your time as a student is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop your critical thinking skills and learn new things.

We thought we’d share our favourite online resources to help you on your journey.

The internet: blessing and curse

One problem is that many professors often take for granted that we come into classes with a good background in their area of specialisation. Some of them have been teaching for so long, they forgot what it’s like not to know anything about medieval history or microeconomics.

Don’t worry, the internet is here to help. But you’ve got to be careful. The net is an awesome resource for students, full of the best open access scholarship. But it’s also a minefield of disinformation and dodgy thought.

That’s why we’ve offered a list of some reliable resources you may find useful.

Remember, these are not meant to replace the syllabus your teachers give you. It’s always important to do the reading that’s prescribed to you if you want to do well and get the most out of your classes.

However, these resources can help you get a handle on some of the background you need to dive deeper into the details of a subject. Many of them are also a lot of fun.

This is not a comprehensive list. Just some of the resources we’ve enjoyed and found useful.

1. Wikipedia

The first entry may sound like we’re pulling your leg. Really, Wikipedia as a serious scholarly resource? What about the cliche of students lazily skimming Wikipedia and pretending to have done real research?

However, the problem isn’t Wikipedia itself, it’s how the site is used. The fact is that Wikipedia is an amazing resource – but it should only be a starting point. Wikipedia is a very useful way to get a basic understanding of a subject. Use it as a guide to push yourself further before more academic reading. And be sure to verify everything you learn with genuine scholarship.

2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophyis sort of like if Wikipedia were written by scholars for scholars. It’s a great resource for philosophy students, of course. But it also contains helpful clarification on complex subjects, which can be very useful for anyone studying politics, history or other fields which refer to abstract human thought over the ages.

3. Decolonising Science Reading List

The works on this reading list deepen and enrich our understanding of what science is and how it is done. Humanities students will find it interesting. Science students, in particular, may want to use the list to broaden their intellectual horizons.

4. MIT open online lectures

Free lectures and other resources by leading experts. Indispensable for undergrads in the sciences who want to review additional material.

5. The New Books Network

The New Books Network is a series of audio interviews with authors of newly published books. Subjects covered range from history to science to religion and beyond. In addition to providing fascinating new ideas and information, the interviews are a good way for students to understand the aims and methods of established scholars.

6. The Directory of Open Access Journals

You should have access to all the top journals through your university’s library. However, in instances where your access is limited, or if you just want to broaden your intellectual horizons, the DOAJ is a welcome resource.

7. Sean Carroll’s Biggest Ideas in the Universe

Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll discusses deep ideas about space and time.

For non-scientists who are interested in knowing more about our weird and wonderful world, it’s a fascinating introduction to the most mind-bending ideas in physics.

For students beginning their journey as science students, the videos provide an excellent big picture sense of the field. They’re accessible but rigorous.

The Field’s: Designed for students to flourish

The Fields in Hatfield Pretoria was built as a home away from home for students who need accommodation in Pretoria.

The Fields offers a wide choice of accommodation from bachelor apartments to three bedroom apartments, furnished or unfurnished.

There’s uncapped free WiFi so you can research (or chill) as much as you need. Plus, there are dedicated study areas for students to work privately or to collaborate.

Read more about what makes The Fields such an attractive choice to students in Pretoria.

Back to articles