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Skills for Higher Learning: Introduction to Academic Reading and Writing

Develop your academic writing skills and learn how to build effective research strategies and reading techniques.

Student writing assignment on laptop

Discover everything you need to produce and edit a piece of academic writing

Academic writing is a formal writing style that is necessary for certain situations. Whether you’re writing assignments for a course or a cover letter for a job, the clear and structured style of academic writing is required in many situations.

On this four-week course from Whitireia New Zealand, you’ll learn how to unpack academic writing conventions and expectations through a step-by-step guide to enhance your writing skills. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to produce quality writing for higher education and beyond.

Explore the features, conventions, and style of academic writing

Academic writing has features that make it different from less formal writing such as in an email or a text. To write academic pieces, you’ll need to understand these conventions.

This course will take you through the different features and types of academic writing, from its clear structure and balanced style to its use of evidence and references.

Develop academic reading techniques and research strategies

When studying, you want to make the most of your time. That’s why it’s good to be efficient and effective when you read and research.

You’ll look at the best techniques for academic reading such as how to skim and scan and when to do more detailed and critical reading.

You’ll also explore the process once you’ve finished your writing, including referencing your sources correctly, proofreading, and editing your piece.

Learn from the education experts at Whitireia New Zealand

Whitireia is known for its focus on foundational education and has been running multiple pathway programmes that support students in higher education.

With their expertise in academic writing, they are uniquely positioned to help you grow your skills to produce quality writing for higher education.


  • Week 1

    Introduction to academic writing

    • What's happening this week

      Kia ora and welcome! In this first activity, we will give you an overview of the course, and give you a heads up about what lies ahead!

    • What is academic writing?

      In this activity, we will look at what academic writing is.

    • Types of academic writing

      Now let's explore the various types of academic writing, including essays and reports.

    • Introduction to the writing process

      In this activity we will introduce the writing process before we get into the nitty gritty in week two!

  • Week 2

    Academic reading strategies

    • What's happening this week

      Kia ora, welcome to Week 2! Are you ready to improve your strategies for reading, and evaluating what you read? Tutor Cody introduces our topics for Week 2 next.

    • Reading preparation

      Now we will look at being as prepared as possible so you can get the best out of your reading sessions.

    • Skimming and scanning

      Skimming and scanning are great strategies to learn for reading effectively.

    • Detailed reading

      Detailed reading is intensive reading that focuses on the important parts of a text. Let's look at what detailed reading is and how you can get better at it.

    • Reading critically

      We just looked at how detailed reading involves reading texts critically. Now let's take a deeper look at what reading critically means and how it's done!

    • Evaluating sources

      It is important to evaluate information critically, as not everything you read will be reliable and true.

  • Week 3

    Academic writing skills

    • What's happening this week

      Kia ora, welcome to Week 3! Are you ready to improve your writing skills? Tutor Cody introduces our topics for Week 3 next.

    • A guide to good writing

      Your ideas are better understood by the reader when they are written clearly. Here we investigate commonly used writing conventions and a range of other tips and tricks for good writing.

    • Punctuation

      Punctuation is about getting rhythm into your writing. It's important to the flow and can make a big difference to interpretation.

    • Paraphrasing and plagiarism

      Don't copy someone else. Show you understand your material with effective paraphrasing.

    • Writing critically

      Writing critically is about putting forward an argument and providing evidence to back yourself.

  • Week 4

    Referencing, proofreading and editing

    • What's happening this week

      Kia ora, welcome to Week 4! Are you ready to learn how and why to reference well, and how to minimise errors in your writing? Tutor Cody introduces our topics for Week 4 next.

    • Referencing

      Referencing can be a little overwhelming when you get started, but it is a really important part of producing good quality academic work! This article introduces you to the art of referencing!

    • Attention to detail matters

      Don't confuse your readers. Make sure your writing is clear with good editing and proofreading.

    • Editing and Proofreading

      Editing your work can be tough, but it's vital. So is proofreading. Learn what to look for when editing and proofing your work.

    • That's a wrap!

      We conclude our course with top tips for better results in assignment writing. Then, Tutor Cody summarises learning across your four weeks and points to what could be next for you.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Identify the features and types of academic writing
  • Evaluate sources of information critically
  • Produce well structured academic writing
  • Apply the process of editing and proofreading

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone starting their higher education journey, in the middle of their studies, or planning to study in higher education in the near future.

What software or tools do you need?

To take part in this course, you’ll only need a mobile device and internet.

Who will you learn with?

Kia ora! I'm Cody and I teach Academic Writing and Academic Researching Skills at Whitireia and WelTec in New Zealand. Looking forward to helping you build your academic confidence!

Who developed the course?

Whitireia New Zealand

Established in 1986, Whitireia is a wholly-owned Crown entity subsidiary company of Te Pūkenga, known for its high student success rates and culturally diverse student body.

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

Still want to know more? Check out our FAQs

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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