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Authoring a doctoral thesis is a challenging undertaking for anyone, even more so if English is not your first language. Learning to use the language of academic research is an ongoing journey, which is closely bound up with your developing knowledge of your field. 

A range of language support and resources are available during the course of your doctorate at no extra cost, including three in-depth writing programmes focused specifically on doctoral-level thesis writing. These programmes are offered by the Graduate School in conjunction with the University's International Study and Language Institute (ISLI), and are detailed below. 

Further academic language input is additionally available, including:

  • a series of one-off Language for Research sessions delivered as part of the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) in the spring term
  • the Academic English Programme's open sign-up courses
  • the Academic English Programme's Academic Language webinar series.

 

Programme 1 – Core Language and Skills for Research Writing

This course takes a practice-based approach to strengthening your sentence and paragraph-level research writing skills.

Using the textbook Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers by Nigel Kaplan, each week will focus on a different aspect of research language, including, for example, clause types and combinations, verb forms, language for stance and positioning, and information flow.

Classes will involve analysis of target language features within the context of authentic research texts, controlled grammar exercises, and short weekly writing tasks for which you will receive feedback in the following lesson.

This course can be useful for researchers with both lower and higher levels of academic writing proficiency, for the former to develop greater accuracy and control, and for the latter to increase linguistic range and flexibility.

 

Programme 2 – Doctoral Thesis Writing: Structure and Language

This course looks at all key components of a doctoral thesis, with focus on the purpose, structure and key language needed for each section.

Extracts from successful doctoral and published research writing are analysed to develop understanding of useful organisational patterns and important language features for introducing your work, reviewing the literature, describing methodology, discussing results, concluding and writing your abstract.

The programme runs in two parallel subject streams:

  • science/life sciences
  • arts, humanities, social science and business.

 

It will be useful to students who haven't previously studied in an English language context, as well as to students who have completed an undergraduate or master's degree in English.

This programme is well suited to students across science and social science subjects using quantitative or qualitative methods within their project, but may be less relevant to some styles of thesis writing used in subjects such as law, literature, and film and theatre.

 

Programme 3 – Writing and Editing your Thesis with Corpora

This course will equip you with computational tools and techniques to independently increase the accuracy, appropriateness and confidence of your research writing.

You will build a collection of texts – research articles in your own disciplinary field – that can be accessed electronically (a "corpus", plural "corpora") and use it to critically examine the academic language of your field.

You will also make a corpus of your own writing so that you can compare features of it with those of published writing.

You will learn how to use software to help you independently answer questions you have about grammar and usage in written discipline/field-specific academic English, and to discover how expert writers in your area of research express themselves. This programme is aimed at doctoral students who have some written work already completed, such as at least one substantial draft chapter or research article.

 

Dates and booking

Programme dates for 2021–22 are available below.

Places can be requested via the RISIS web portal in the same way that you request places on RRDP courses.  Look out for courses starting "ISLI –" in the listings.

Programmes count as one RRDP session if all classes are attended, but cannot count as more than one in any single academic year no matter how many thesis writing programmes are taken.

 

   

Autumn term 2021-22 

 
Programme 2 -
Doctoral Thesis Writing: Structure and language
 
(Science/Life Sciences)
09:00 - 10:30 
09:00 - 10:30
Wednesday 13 October 2021
Wednesday 20 October 2021
Wednesday 27 October 2021
Wednesday 10 November 2021
Wednesday 17 November 2021
Wednesday 24 November 2021
(6 x 90-minute sessions) 
Programme 2 -
Doctoral Thesis Writing: Structure and language
 

(Social Sciences & Business) 
11:00 - 12:30

Wednesday 13 October 2021
Wednesday 20 October 2021
Wednesday 27 October 2021
Wednesday 10 November 2021
Wednesday 17 November 2021
Wednesday 24 November 2021
(6 x 90-minute sessions) 
Programme 3 -
Writing and Editing your Thesis with Corpora
(All subjects) 
10:00 - 13:00
Thursday 21 October 2021
Thursday 28 October 2021
(2  x 3-hour sessions) 

Spring term 2021-22 


 Programme 1-
Core Language and Skills for Research Writing
 

(All subjects) 
10:00 - 13:00
Wednesday 26 January 2022
Wednesday 2 February 2022
Wednesday 9 February 2022
Wednesday 23 February 2022
Wednesday 2 March 2022
Wednesday 9 March 2022
Wednesday 16 March 2022

(7 x 3-hour sessions) 
Programme 3 -
Writing and Editing your Thesis with Corpora
(All subjects) 
10:00 - 13:00
Thursday 20 January 2022
Thursday 27 January 2022
(2  x 3-hour sessions) 

Summer term 2021-22 

 
Programme 1-
Core Language and Skills for Research Writing
 

(All subjects)
10:00 - 13:00
Thursday 21 April 2022
Thursday 28 April 2022
Thursday 5 May 2022
Thursday 12 May 2022
Thursday 19 May 2022
Thursday 26 May 2022
Thursday 9 June 2022

(7 x 3-hour sessions) 
Programme 2 -
Doctoral Thesis Writing: Structure and language

(Social Sciences & Business) 
09:00 to 10:30
Wednesday 20 April 2022
Wednesday 27 April 2022
Wednesday 4 May 2022
Wednesday 11 May 2022
Wednesday 18 May 202 2
Wednesday 25 May 2022
(6 x 90 minute sessions) 
Programme 3 -
Doctoral Thesis Writing: Structure and language
 
 
(Science, Life Sciences)
11:00 to 12:30
Wednesday 20 April 2022
Wednesday 27 April 2022
Wednesday 4 May 2022
Wednesday 11 May 2022
Wednesday 18 May 202 2
Wednesday 25 May 2022
(6 x 90 minute sessions) 

 

For further information, contact Dr Joanna John by emailing j.john@reading.ac.uk.