Academic English Programme: course content and length

Academic Writing Essentials and Practice


This course will help you develop a wide variety of writing skills, including how to plan your essays, write introductions and conclusions, and how to construct clear and concise paragraphs to help you deliver your message most effectively. You may also cover paraphrasing and summarising skills, and how to refer to sources most effectively. The lessons will be tailored to your needs as far as possible.

Each class will be split into 2 parts of broadly equal length; 50 minutes of teacher 'input' and 50 minutes of classroom writing practice.

This class is aimed at intermediate level writers. Students wishing to cover more advanced level skills should attend Essays: Criticality, Argument and Structure.

Dissertation and Thesis Writing


This course will enable you to effectively write the different sections of dissertations and theses, and identify standard patterns of organisation along with typical language features. It is ideal for Masters and Phd students. 

Essays: Criticality, Argument, Structure


This advanced course is specifically designed to help you with the most common writing genre at university; essay writing. The most frequent complaint of lecturers is that student essays lack criticality. This is aspect of essay writing is highly interrelated with developing an argument, essay structure, and language use. This course will enable you to understand how to write good essays.

The content is challenging and aimed at more advanced level writers. Students wishing to cover more intermediate level skills should attend Academic Writing Essentials and Practice.


Academic Language and Writing - a guided self-access course


This is a guided self-access course using our new learning software, the Epigeum EAS course. You will attend a one-hour classroom based workshop each week, and be expected to do up to two hours of guided online learning in preparation for the following week. The course will take you through the essentials of academic Reading and Writing step by step. Our teachers will help you deal with any problems and set you practice tasks.



The aim of this class is to provide you with the opportunity to practise your speaking skills in an informal atmosphere and so increase your confidence, fluency and accuracy. You will be given a short article, usually selected from the BBC news website, to read in preparation for the following week, when the topic of the article is used as a starting point for discussion and conversation. You will work together in pairs or groups of three while the teacher listens and gives feedback on language use, either immediately or at the end of the lesson. Feedback covers grammatical accuracy, appropriate use of vocabulary and minor pronunciation errors. The teacher may also help you to express your ideas in more natural-sounding English. The course provides a basis for you to improve your academic skills, such as summarising, contributing in seminars and debating.

Academic Grammar

This class focuses on grammatical structures that will be useful in your academic studies. It will cover essential areas such as sentence structure, passive voice, relative clauses and conditionals. It will also look at a variety of grammatical structures that can help you improve the academic style of your writing.

This course will focus on intermediate / advanced aspects of academic grammar. For a more basic refresher course, please see Grammar for Writing. 

Using Sources Successfully and Avoiding Plagiarism

This four-week writing course focuses on the skills and language needed to be able to confidently use and reference the sources you have read in your written work. In UK higher education it is extremely important to accurately attribute ideas to their original sources: if you do not know how to do so, you risk unintentionally plagiarising. The course is a very practical guide to how to avoid plagiarism, how to summarise and paraphrase texts, when and how to include direct quotations, how to report scholars' arguments, and how to reference your sources both with in-text citation and in the bibliography or list of references. You will be given lots of useful examples and undertake tasks which help put into practice key concepts. This course is suitable for students at all levels of study from undergraduate to PhD.


Academic Vocabulary

A large vocabulary is essential for effective and efficient reading, and contributes to effective writing, listening and speaking. It is therefore a vital component of language study at university. This course will cover some of the most useful academic vocabulary, presented through academic texts to help you develop your reading skills. It will enable you to develop strategies to continue to expand your academic vocabulary after the course has finished. Students are invited to submit texts from their degree courses on which to base the lessons.


This course will enable you to

recognise your pronunciation errors and provide you with practice opportunities to improve them.

Features you will address include connected speech, syllables, segments (vowels and consonants), stress, English rhythm, intonation and fast speech patterns. This work should help you to deliver more effective presentations and to interact more confidently with other English speakers. You will be encouraged to discuss any difficulties/problems you may be experiencing with regard to your own pronunciation. You will have the opportunity to work with a range of varied materials designed to consolidate the areas of pronunciation which have been studied in class.

Listening and Speaking

This course is designed to help you develop your listening and speaking skills. You will be given the opportunity to listen to lectures and improve your note-taking skills, and then enter into lively seminar debates connected to the topic of the lecture. Feedback will be given on your performance and suggestions made for how improve your seminar techniques.

Social English

This is a practical non-academic course suited to those students who have just arrived in the UK and have little or no experience of interacting with local people and native speakers. The course aims to improve students' speaking and listening skills in everyday conversational English and also to learn common idiomatic language used by native speakers. Each week the class focuses on a topic of interest or everyday situation and students practise speaking in pairs and small groups through a variety of interactive activities such as dialogue, discussion and roleplay. The course leads to increased confidence and greater understanding of the language of everyday social interaction.

New! Advanced Social English

This course is for returning students who have already completed an initial Social English course. It is also for new students who are already confident speakers with a knowledge of the basics of social English.

Presentation Skills

Giving effective presentations is an extremely useful skill for academic study as well as for you career. This course will cover all the essential aspects of giving excellent presentations and will offer plenty of opportunities for practice.

This is a short course of four weeks and therefore we have two entry opportunities - one on Week 2, and one in Week 7. 

Writing and Speaking Tutorials

The Academic English Programme gives you the opportunity to have an individual tutorial with an experienced academic English teacher. You are eligible for a maximum of two tutorials per term if you are an international student (including EU) at the University of Reading. You can ask to receive feedback on you any aspect of your writing or speaking, such as planning/organisation/language/grammar/style for a written assignment, or for a presentation you have been working on.

Please note that these tutorials are not a proof-reading/language correction service, and that your tutorial will be limited to 2-3 pages of your work, lasting a maximum of 30 minutes. We can provide a list of private proof-readers on request, but can take no responsibility for their service.

Tutorials are held in the ISLI in HumSS. You will be advised of the room number by email.

Please make your request for a tutorial via email, following these instructions carefully:

Put Tutorial Request as the subject of your email.

In the main body of your email, you need to put:

1. Family name:

2. First name:

3. Student number:

4. University of Reading email address:

5. Degree Programme at Reading:

6. Brief description of the type of help you require: If it is writing advice, please attach the 2-3 pages of writing you wish to discuss. Name your document with your name and the name of the 2-3 pages of your assignment before you attach it.

7. When you are available during the week:

Send your email to You will receive a reply from an ISLI tutor to arrange a tutorial time. Please note that we may not be able to see you immediately, so try to plan ahead if you know that you will need a tutorial.

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