• University of Reading

A Beginner's Guide to Writing in English for University Study

Learn how to use English for study at university or college and develop your writing skills, vocabulary and grammar.

318,067 enrolled on this course

A Beginner's Guide to Writing in English for University Study
  • Duration5 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $59Find out more

Learn how to write using academic English in preparation for university study.

Academic writing can be very different from other types of written English. This course has been developed to help you learn the basics of academic writing and develop your English language skills.

You’ll develop some proficiency in key areas of ‘academic’ grammar, learn about the stages in essay writing, and produce an essay of your own. You’ll also explore how to organise an essay, write in an academic style, and use tools to evaluate your own writing and other learners’ writing, so that by the end of the course you’re able to write a good, basic academic essay.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Hi. Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Academic Writing for university. My name is Steve Thomas. And I teach EAP, English for Academic Purposes, here at the University of Reading.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 seconds This course is all about writing. We know there are lots of people like you from countries all around the world who would like to take a degree in English. But you’re worried that your English isn’t good enough. Well, this is a beginner’s guide. So your writing skills only need to be good enough for a pre-university course. That’s about IELTS 4.5. But even if your writing skills are stronger than this, we still think this would be a useful course for you. Together with my colleagues Anne Vicary and Sebastian Watkins, we’ll be showing you the very first piece of writing that a student did on our course a few years ago.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds The student’s name is Xiao And he’s currently take a PhD at the University of California in Los Angeles in the United States. If you follow this course closely, we think you’ll be able to make the same kind improvements that Xiao has. It won’t make you an expert writer, but what it will do is give you a solid base for you to build on in the future.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds So come and join us at the University of Reading and improve your academic writing skills.


  • Week 1

    What is academic writing?

    • Welcome to the course

      Hello and welcome to A Beginner's Guide to Writing in English for University Study! Find out more about what we'll cover over the next five weeks and how you'll learn.

    • What is academic writing?

      Find out more about what academic writing is and the skills required to write well for academic purposes.

    • Developing an essay

      Time to have a go at some academic writing. We'll look at an example of some academic writing and see how we might approach writing an essay.

    • Summary of the week

      Time to look back on what we have learnt this week and put it all together.

  • Week 2

    Essay structure and organisation

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Find out more about what we'll learn this week.

    • How to structure an essay

      Academic writing is structured in a particular way to make the points clear and easy to understand.

    • Developing your own essay

      Get started on your own essay, which you will develop over the next few weeks.

  • Week 3

    Using academic language

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Learn more about what we'll cover this week.

    • Language focus - Part 1

      Let's look at some of the key areas of language that are important for academic writing.

    • Language Focus - Part 1B

      Learn how to write in an impersonal way about people or things in general and how to refer to different quantities.

    • Language focus - Part 2

      Learn more about the different language skills used in academic writing.

    • Language Focus - Part2B

      Let's look at what a clause is, the different clause structures and understand how they can be used.

  • Week 4

    Preparing your essay

    • Welcome to Week 4

      This week we will apply the new skills we have developed over the last few weeks. Find out more about what's in store.

    • Preparing your essay

      Writing a good essay requires planning and preparation. Find out how to prepare for your essay.

    • Writing a first draft

      Writing a first draft gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback and improve your final essay.

  • Week 5

    Writing your essay

    • Welcome to Week 5

      In this, the final week, you will write your own essay and provide feedback on others.

    • Submit the first draft of your essay

      You will submit the first draft of your essay for peer review and comment on first drafts by others.

    • The final essay

      Now you have reflected on your first draft, and perhaps made some changes, it is time to submit your final essay.

    • Course summary

      Well done! Let's look at what you have achieved over the last five weeks.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Compare one aspect of life now with life in the past in one well-constructed paragraph
  • Explore organisational structure of essays: identify and name the different sections of an essay
  • Explain one aspect of your home town in one well-constructed paragraph, focussing on language accuracy
  • Develop and write the first draft of your essay
  • Contribute and receive feedback on first essay drafts
  • Reflect on feedback received and improve your draft to create and submit a second draft of your essay

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at non-English speakers who have studied some English. You should have a minimum level of IELTS 4.5 or equivalent.

Who will you learn with?

I’m an English for Academic Purposes teacher & materials developer at the University of Reading. My research interest is different modes of thought & reasoning across different language & cultures.

I am the Director of the Academic English Programme at University of Reading, helping international students to achieve their full academic potential.

I'm Associate Professor in Technology-enhanced Learning at the University of Reading. I also teach on pre-sessional courses in English language and study skills.

Hi there! I'm Anne and I teach English for Academic Purposes at the University of Reading. I'm particularly interested in the teaching of grammar and writing. Looking forward to the course!

I work at the University of Reading, as a tutor in English for Academic Purposes. I've taught academic writing for many years now, and always enjoy seeing my students make progress.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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