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Developing academic English: Develop your writing

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Your written assignments may include reports, short answers and essays, each with their own organisation and layout. You may also have to write an exam under timed conditions. The ability to write in clear, well-structured English can make a big difference to your assignment and exam marks.

For many subjects you will need to show that you can

  • structure an essay so that it has a clear beginning, middle and end (i.e. introduction, body and conclusion)
  • draw information and evidence from your course materials and other sources
  • write in your own words, using the vocabulary and expressions relevant to your subject
  • link your ideas in a logical way
  • produce sentences in grammatical English with accurate spelling so that your meaning is clear.

In these videos, find out about the challenges of writing and how other students have tackled them.

A checklist for academic writing

When you produce a piece of academic writing, it's helpful to think about four key areas:

  1. Use of source material - have you selected and evaluated the relevant information?
  2. Structure of the text - have you organised your response in an appropriate way?
  3. Academic writing style - have you used language that's appropriate to your audience and your assignment task?
  4. Grammar, spelling and punctuation - have you checked these to ensure that your work is well-presented?

These four areas can form the basis of a practical tool to help you develop your academic writing. It is a checklist that has been adapted from a framework called MASUS (Measuring Academic Skills of University Students) developed at the University of Sydney.

As you go through the rest of these pages, you will explore these four areas of the checklist in more detail. The activity below, from the University of Southampton, gives you some ideas of what you need to think about when revising your writing.

Activity

The activity below, from the University of Southampton, gives you some ideas of what you need to think about when revising your writing.

Revising your written work
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