Writing Overview

Producing written work as part of a university exam, essay, dissertation or other form of assignment requires an approach to organisation, structure, voice and use of language that differs from other forms of writing. Understanding more about the discipline and specific features of academic writing can help you develop confidence and make improvements to your written work that will be of benefit throughout your degree course and beyond.

Have a look at the Academic Writing Mindmap to self-assess your own writing and follow the links below to find out more.

Academic Writing Overview

Try our Academic Writing Overview Prezi to find out more.

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Top Tips
  • Assignments at university are expected to be written with a particular style, tone and vocabulary that differ from everyday communication in a number of ways. Academic style has developed as an international language that allows ideas and arguments to be organised and communicated in a clear and effective way.
  • Each element of academic writing has a set of conventions that you can learn and apply to any piece of writing. Because of this, academic writing is actually easier than other forms of writing. Once you know how to follow the expected patterns, you can always ensure your writing is good.
  • When writing your assignments, it is important to work on the Language and Register, the overall Structure of the writing, and how the writing uses Flow and Connectivity to clearly express ideas in a readable manner.
  • Use the tips below, but remember to check what your department expects. The information below is generic to all academic writing, and there are always exceptions!
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  • Be as concise as possible – remove any unnecessary words.
  • Changing words forms and word order in a sentence can help you to be more concise.
  • Break down very long sentences or multiple independent clauses into shorter ones.
  • Check what is expected from the assignment – if it is a reflective piece then the conventions will be different.
  • Be objective! Show your opinion subtly without making sweeping or unsupported statements
  • Avoid waffling – stick to the point!

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