Academic English for PhD and Post-doc researchers

Course Description

This is an academic English course for any PhD candidates or Post-doc researchers/Research Fellows on the Cornwall campus for whom English is a second language. It aims to help develop academic writing style and expression, as well as the clarity and flow of ideas. It also develops your presentation skills and ability to talk about your work confidently. Part of the course is receiving feedback on samples of writing, and therefore participants will be expected to submit written texts of up to 500 words each week.The exact content changes depending on who enrols, but below is an indicative course outline. Researchers may also book 1 to 1 appointments for individual advice on pieces of work.

Timetable & Tutorials

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“The needs-based focus of the classes was very useful. I have been very happy with all the courses and the professionalism and sympathy of the teachers. I would not know how to improve the classes!” (Renewable Energy PhD)


Pop into the Languages Office in Tremough House, Penryn Campus.

Indicative course content


Approaches to writing

A PhD can be a challenge at the best of times but this session aims to address the main issues in approaching the writing of one. Considering the practicalities and organisational elements of writing, the session will also discuss the importance of self-reflection, supervisory meetings and 'talking-out-ideas' to the PhD writing process.

Session 2

Using academic style

This session aims to help you develop your ‘voice’ as an academic. It looks at some of the common features of academic English, and introduces the vocabulary, expression and style of academic writing.

Session 3

Organising a literature review

The aim of this session is to guide you in organising and structuring a literature review.  It gives an example of a synthesis matrix for organising literature and articles from your reading.

Session 4

The language of referencing

This session presents the vocabulary and expressions commonly used for citation, in particular academic reporting verbs and structures. It focuses on the ‘function’ of texts/quotes and how this is reflected in vocabulary. E.g. is the author highlighting, suggesting, arguing, refuting …?

Session 5

Paraphrasing and summarising

Strategies for paraphrasing and summarising effectively. How to identify the key themes and ideas in a text and then to ‘nominalise’ - change the grammar of vocabulary - to help restructure sentences.

Session 6

Being Concise

This session follows on from the summarising session, and offers tips on how to be concise and to avoid unnecessary vocabulary, expressions, and repetition.

Session 7

Writing an abstract and a methodology

How is an abstract structured? What should be included? And, what useful expressions are commonly used. This session focuses on the grammar, in particular the tense use, in methodologies.

Session 8

Smooth Writing

This session look at different techniques and ways of joining ideas together to create a text that flows: Cohesion; balance & parallelism; linking vocabulary.

Session 9

Editing your work

It is often difficult to spot your own mistakes, but there are techniques you can use. This class presents these techniques and also helps you to analyse your own work and identify any ‘signature mistakes’.