Academic Skills


One of the main ways your knowledge will be tested at University is through writing. Even though you may think that you can already write, this site takes you through the steps to producing good academic writing and it might be worth comparing it to what you do now. Time management is a major element of good writing so it may well be worth looking at that topic first. There are several features of Academic Writing which you need to consider:

  • Use formal English
  • Avoid giving your opinion unless asked to
  • Always back opinions with evidence
  • Check the validity of source material
  • Follow an argument logically
  • Be emotionally neutral
  • Avoid use of the 1st person unless writing a reflective assignment (e.g. based on experience)
  • Make a decision based on evidence
  • Use arguments to develop a perspective
  • Be objective
  • Think, compare, contrast & evaluate
  • Show an awareness of complexities

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Essay writing is the most common form of assessment in higher education. Essays for different subjects may have slightly different guidelines, so you should always consult your handbook or your tutor if you are unsure. You may also be asked to write a Report; these may vary by subject but for general guidelines go to Writing a report later in this section. Another type of writing you may be asked to do is Reflective Writing.

The advice on essay writing follows the RAWE approach which asks that you give equal weight to four elements:

Before you begin to write you will already have done the bulk of your research and you then need to apply your knowledge to the question. Of course research and application can overlap as the critical thinking process enables you to make connections.

Writing your essay

After you have done your research and thought through your approach, you need to write. Find out how to write your essay

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