Writing Advisory Service
The Writing Advisory Service (WAS) is a service provided by the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) to help improve the writing skills of both home and international students. These appointments are for fully registered, degree-level students at the University of Sheffield and for students studying in the Department for Lifelong Learning.
University of Sheffield International College and full-time ELTC students are not eligible for this service.
It is always helpful when producing some written work to try it out on a reader. WAS provides you with the opportunity to discuss your writing in a one-to-one situation for an hour at a time with a specialist writing tutor.
There is an online booking system for writing advisory appointments. You must register with the new online booking system to book a WAS appointment. This is completed online (follow the link below). Students can book up to 6 appointments during the academic year depending on availability (for example 3 in the Autumn semester and 3 in the Spring) but you may be able to book more appointments in special circumstances.
If you'd like to see what happens in a Writing Advisory tutorial, watch this short video.
Please note: The booking system only displays appointments up to two weeks in advance, so please check regularly to view the latest availability.
Appointments for Distance Learning students can be booked through our Online Language Support Hub.
Please be aware that WAS appointments appear in the calendar up to 2 weeks in advance and you will only be able to view appointments that are available. Appointments are available but get booked quickly - see 'Booking tips' below.
Booking tips New appointments usually appear in the Calendar every day so remember to check it regularly. Also, students sometimes cancel appointments so the appointment becomes available again - keep checking the Calendar! Finally, at certain times of year, we add appointments very late. This is because of staffing changes. We're sorry about this but please be aware that we're doing our best!
Making an appointment
- Appointments last for one hour
- You can only book one appointment at a time
- Bookings can be made online
- Appointments are subject to availability
- Please check where your appointment is, as some appointments are not at the ELTC.
- Please let Reception know that you have arrived for your appointment - do not go straight to the room your appointment is scheduled to take place in.
- You must inform the ELTC if you cannot come (see Cancelling appointments below). If you arrive more than 15 minutes late for your WAS appointment without informing us, your appointment will be cancelled and you will NOT be able to make appointments for a month.
What we do
You can discuss any of the following areas of difficulty which you might be having with your writing:
- logical organisation and linking of ideas
- paragraph structure
- sentence length and structure
- punctuation and spelling
- referencing both within the text and in a bibliography
- vocabulary (but not too subject-specific)
- register: formal vs. informal language
- overall structure of an essay, report or thesis (in general rather than specific terms)
What we do not do
Our tutors cannot provide help with content and ideas as these should be discussed with your supervisor. Our tutors look at academic work only.
You cannot hand in your essay in advance for a tutor to read. We are not a proofreading service. It is an opportunity for you to clarify the way you express your ideas through face-to-face discussion with a reader. We try to point out general areas for improvement rather than check every word.
WAS tutors will NOT read your work off a laptop or any data storage device: data stick, floppy disk, zip disk. You MUST print your work (double line spaced) before you come to your appointment.
ELTC cannot accommodate children during Writing Advisory appointments. If you are unable to arrange childcare, please re-schedule your appointment.
Our tutors are qualified and experienced language teachers. While we understand that it may be helpful to have a teacher who is familiar with your subject area, we do not have subject specialists in all areas - besides, they can't help you with your content. A general principle is that your work should be understood by an educated, non-expert (like our teachers!).
Because our tutors teach on various ELTC programmes, they have complicated timetables so you may not be able to see the same tutor more than once.
What to bring with you
You should always bring some writing (printed, double line spaced)with you even if it is an extremely rough draft.
If you have a deadline, be sure to bring your work (or sections of it) as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to make corrections and revisions.
How much writing will we be able to discuss in one session?
The quantity we are able to discuss will depend on the amount of advice which is necessary. It may be possible to look at a 2,000-word essay in one session but it won't be possible to look at an entire thesis. Appointments are 60 minutes long to allow both students and teachers to concentrate properly: longer appointments are not necessarily more effective!
If you are doing a PhD, you will be unlikely to receive enough appointments to share all your work with WAS tutors. Therefore, you should select the sections you most want to discuss and concentrate on these.
How we can help you
You receive feedback and consultation on one piece of writing and you have a chance to raise queries and problems concerning it.
In addition, you should aim to apply the advice you receive to your future writing. Try to make use of the suggestions you receive to improve your writing skills generally.
If you have any complaints about our service, please let Reception know.
If you make an appointment but are not able to attend then you MUST cancel (unbook) your appointment using our online booking system at least 24 hours before your appointment. This will allow another student to take your place; you can then book another appointment or put yourself on the waiting list. For last minute cancellations due to special circumstances e.g. illness, please contact the ELT Centre to cancel as soon as you can. If you fail to cancel you will be temporarily banned from making appointments.