English Writing for Academic Purposes

English Writing for Academic Purposes

Learning to Write and Writing to Learn

English Writing for Academic Purposes may sound like a very serious and esoteric course. Oftentimes, students wonder about this course: Is this course really helpful for doing academic research? I could write my thesis or dissertation by copying the moves and steps commonly seen in published research papers, so is it necessary for me to take this course?  In fact, what graduate students need is not just pure English writing training; what this course teaches is more than English writing.

Writing and publishing research papers is a must for every graduate student and a good ending for every research project. Although each discipline has its own writing characteristics, there must be certain cross-disciplinary rules and features. In addition to the structure of academic papers, this course teaches academic grammar and vocabulary. When the course instructor talks about certain grammatical points, for example the passive voice or modal verbs, he or she will emphasize, instead of what they are, when and how to use them in academic articles to meaningfully communicate ideas. Also, by reading academic articles in various fields and analyzing their writing structures and skills, students can effectively master the reading skills needed to efficiently read academic articles, making literature reviews a much less time-consuming task.

Completing a research paper is only half of the journey towards academic publication. The next step is how to present research outcomes clearly so as to exchange ideas with colleagues and how to market research to apply for research funding or seek corporate collaboration so as to extend the influence of research outcomes. In addition to publishing research papers, giving oral or poster presentations is an essential survival skill for graduate students not only in school but also in the workplace. Therefore, this course provides skill training in academic presentation, as well as academic writing. Through practice and peer observation, students will develop their oral performance skills in terms of speaking, designing slides, handling Q & A sessions, and designing posters. The ultimate goal is to equip students with skills to command the stage and elucidate their research outcomes.

In addition to academic writing and presentation skills, this course cultivates students’ potential for cross-disciplinary learning and communication. Students in this course come from a wide swathe of fields of study. Through classroom discussions and peer reviews, they not only learn to respect one another’s opinions and criticisms but also identify and address their writing weaknesses. Given the opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning and communication, students broaden their professional horizons and deepen their awareness and understanding of other disciplines. This ability to learn and communicate across disciplines will be a great asset for students when they enter the workplace and face a world of diversity.

This is not just an English writing class; this is a course that teaches students how to read, write, market themselves, and communicate with others. English Writing for Academic Purposes is here for students who intend to write good research papers and develop cross-disciplinary learning and communication skills.

Course Objectives

This course will train students to learn how to write an academic journal research paper. The course will consist of an introduction to academic English and to the framework of each part of an academic paper. Students will also be trained how to make an oral presentation of their research.

Course Content

  • Features of academic writing
  • Writing general-specific texts
  • Problem, process, and solution
  • Data commentary
  • Writing summaries
  • Writing critically
  • Moves and steps in research papers
  • Presenting your work

Course Intended Learning Outcome (CILO)

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

CILO 1: Identify features of academic writing and apply their knowledge of academic writing organize their ideas into a logical and coherent text

CILO 2: Develop critical reading and writing skills

CILO 3: Recognize the moves and steps in constructing research papers

CILO 4: Develop proof-reading and self-editing skills

CILO 5: Make effective written and oral presentations of one’s own work

Teaching and Learning Activities (TLAs)

  • Students will develop writing skills through guided practice and peer-review. (CILO 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  • Students will analyze structural features of research papers, relevant to their own disciplines. (CILO 1, 2 and 3)
  • Students will compose a draft of the introduction section of their research a general topic, making use of the moves and techniques that they have learned from the course. (CILO1, 2, 3 and 4)
  • Students will practice tailoring their written and oral presentations to their target audience. (CILO 1, 2 and 5)

Assessment Methods

Types of Assessment Weighting CILOs to be addressed Descriptions of Assessment Tasks
Assignment 40% 1, 2, 3, 4 Two main types of writing assignments will be given in this course: writing assignment and paper analysis. The writing assignment will be related to academic writing skills and structures, such as summary, critique, data commentary and SPSE. Students will also do moves and steps analysis of research papers in their discipline.
Term paper 20% 1, 2, 3, 4 Students will apply the knowledge of the moves and steps in constructing research papers in writing the introduction section and the abstract of their research on a general topic.
Final exam 5% Students will be tested on the features of academic writing, and moves and steps of constructing a research paper.
Oral presentation 15% 5 Students will apply the presentation skills covered in the class and give a 10 minute presentation of their term paper.
Poster presentation 10% 2, 5 Students will make a poster presenting their term paper.
Classroom participation and attendance 10% 4 Based on students’ participation in class discussions and CEIBA, and their attendance.

Textbook and Reference Materials


  • Swales, J. M., and Feak, C. B. (2004). Academic Writing for Graduate Students ( 2nd ed.). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Reference Materials

  • Gillett, A., Hammond, A., and Martala, M. (2009). Inside Track: Successful Academic Writing. Person Education Limited.
  • Hamp-Lyons, L., and Heasley, E. (2006). Study Writing. Cambridge University Press.
  • McCarthy, M. and O’Dell, F. (2008). Academic Vocabulary in Use. Cambridge University Press.
  • Powell, Mark. (2002). Presenting in English: How to Give Successful Presentations. Boston, MA: Thomson-Heinle.
  • Weissberg, R., and Buker, S. (1990). Writing Up Research. London: Prentice Hall.