Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsHello, and welcome to this Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study. This course is all about writing the kind of essay that you'd be expected to produce on a degree programme here in the UK. So together with my colleagues, Joan, Sarah, and Deborah, we'll be taking you through the different stages in the process of academic writing. So we'll start with analysing essay questions, and then we'll move on to doing background reading for your essay, and then writing a plan, writing a first draft, and finally, editing your essay. We'll also be looking at some of the language that you need to express yourself with clarity and precision. So we'll be looking at sentence structure, grammar, and vocabulary, too.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 secondsBefore we look at writing, we actually need to look at reading, because when students are given an essay title, they're also given a reading list to accompany this. Reading is essential in order to inform the writing that students do. When you get your reading list, this consists of a range of different resources-- for example, journal articles, books web pages-- and you're expected to use the information to inform your writing. It's important to show that the opinion that you're voicing is not simply your own idea, but that it's informed by the research in the field.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 secondsYou're also demonstrating the range of knowledge that you have about the field in terms of your reading, And we will be looking at this over the next few weeks. So how do you make the most out of the course? Firstly, try to make sure that you do all the exercises and do them in the correct order. Have a go at doing them without looking at the answers first. Secondly, it's really important to post to the discussion board. Put your ideas up there. Don't be scared. And give feedback to other students who post their ideas. It's also fine just to give them a like.

Skip to 2 minutes and 26 secondsThis week, we'll be looking at the features of academic writing, what makes academic writing different to other types of writing. We'll then look at an essay written by a student at the University of Reading here. And we'll analyse the structure of this essay. Finally, towards the end of the week, we look at different levels of organisation in a text and language, including basic sentence structure and word class.

Welcome to the course

Hello and welcome to ‘An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study’, a five week course produced by the International Study & Language Institute (ISLI) at the University of Reading.

ISLI has a world-wide reputation for academic excellence and student support, and provides a range of courses for international students to improve their English language skills for university study. You can find out more information on the ISLI website.

The team

You will be guided through this course by lead educator Jonathan Smith, Director of Technology-enhanced Learning at ISLI. Additional contributions to the course content have been made by experts Dr Sarah Brewer, Associate Professor at ISLI; Joan McCormack, Associate Professor at ISLI; and Deborah Murphy, Director of Self-Access Centre for Language Learning (SACLL).

Jonathan will be joined by course mentors Anas and Ismail, who will be on hand to help support the discussions. They will answer questions where they can, but they will not be able to respond to everyone.

If you want to view the comments made by Jonathan and his team, click on their name to visit their profile page and click the ‘Follow’ button. By following other profiles, any comment made will appear in your activity feed which you can filter by ‘Following’.

The course

Over the next five weeks, you will build on your existing knowledge and learn how to research, write and reference essays similar to those you might be expected to write at university. You will explore how to develop your ideas, organise them into a clear and logical structure, and reference sources correctly. You will also be introduced to a ‘language focus’ activity each week, to help you practise your English language skills.

Each week is split into activities which include a number of videos, quizzes, articles, discussions and practical exercises. Here are some tips you may find useful to help you prepare for the course:

  • Take a look ahead to see what is coming up in the following weeks.
  • Keep a notebook to hand, whether it is pen and paper or one on your digital device. This will be particularly useful when you work through the practical tasks.
  • Each video also has a transcript which you can read by clicking ‘view transcript’ found underneath each video.
  • You can also slow down the videos by hovering over the video until this option appears in the toolbar.
  • If you want to look at an image in more detail, click on it to expand.

You are encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas with each other in the comments area found at the bottom of almost every Step. You can also ‘like’ and reply to comments made by other learners.

The program

Did you know this course is part of an exciting program: ‘Writing in English for University Study’?

This program consists of three courses which follow on from one another, to help you develop your academic English essay writing skills.

Once you have completed An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study, you will be eligible to sign-up to the third, optional course in the program. This course consists of a set of revision Steps, followed by a Tutor-Marked Assignment (TMA) with the University of Reading, for which a fee is payable.

To complete the TMA, you are invited to research, write and submit a 500 - 600 word essay. Your essay will be marked by a tutor from the University of Reading’s International Study and Language Institute, who will give you personal feedback to help you further develop your academic English writing skills.

You can find out more on the program page.


Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

1. Unlimited access to the course

Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

2. A Certificate of Achievement

To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

Find out more


If you have not done so already, please take a moment to complete our pre-course survey to help us understand more about who’s taking the course and what we can do to improve it.

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An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading