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Academic Descriptors

Students will develop the following throughout the course:

Fine-tuning your Academic Skills

A reflection on what you already know about effective presentations. You will learn how sources can be integrated into presentations and the most effective way of using visual aids to support what you say. You will also look at how to deal with questions from the audience after giving a presentation.

Critical Thinking Skills

Looking at critical thinking skills for both academic reading and writing. You will consider what it means to read and write critically and learn the difference between descriptive and critical writing. You will then have practice in applying critical reading skills, using authentic academic texts. Finally, you will consider what it means to listen critically.

Discussion Skills

Learn and practise some useful techniques for taking part in academic discussions and practise pronouncing some key expressions. You will then have the chance to prepare arguments to take part in a live discussion later with other students.


Reading and hearing about some basic note taking skills which are useful for academic study. You will reflect on the value of note taking and then learn about some common issues students have when writing notes. You will then learn about different note taking methods and have a go at making notes using the most popular type, known as a mind map.

Listening to Lectures

In this session, you will learn some useful techniques for listening to academic lectures including the importance of doing pre-lecture tasks, and different ways in which lecturers present their ideas. You will also discover how lecture slides can help with understanding a lecture and how lecturers use them. You will then focus on the techniques used in lectures, the use of signposting language and also how evidence is used to support what is said.

Corpus Analysis

You will cover some of the most common areas of difficulty that speakers of English as another language encounter when using academic English. You will learn how to avoid these errors, and how to improve your academic English, using authentic occurrences of language as it is used by native speakers in various situations within an academic context.

Seminar Skills

You will learn about and practise some useful skills for participating in seminar discussions. You will see how participants use language to take turns in the discussion and effective ways to interrupt someone who is talking. You will then consider the value of active listening when participating in a seminar. Finally, you will do some preparation to take part in a live seminar discussion in the webinar.

Academic Writing

You will think about the challenges that you may face when writing an academic text in English, then will look at an essay writing process model and the language of essay titles. You will learn about different types of essay structures and how to choose the most appropriate one. You will then look at writing an effective introduction and conclusion, and practice planning an essay, including the introduction and conclusion.

Academic Reading

In this session, you will learn about different types of academic texts, and explore their similarities and differences. You will find out about active reading strategies and practise using these with academic texts. Following on, you will learn and practise some strategies for dealing with longer academic texts, such as a research article, and how to get a general understanding of the key points in them.

Project Work

This session will cover some aspects of academic writing which are particularly useful when writing an academic project. You will first look at how to select and evaluate sources for your project before looking at how different sources are combined to present ideas and arguments in a project. You will also look at how examples are incorporated, how to present and introduce visuals and also how data is described, compared and contrasted in written projects. Finally, you will review the content and structure of a project introduction and conclusion.