Study skills

Writing at University

There are several core skill areas involved in writing effective assignments at university level. This page contains resources to help students improve their writing in these areas. Many of these links are to pdf resources located in Google Drive.

Essay writing

Information on how to approach, develop and structure essays as the major form of academic assignment:

Writing clear sentences (365KB)
Sentence grammar and structure.
Writing effective paragraphs (345KB)
How to structure paragraphs as key parts of an essay
Developing an argument (384KB)
Most academic essays include some aspect of argument. Information and exercises.
Instruction words in your assignment
Some common keywords that appear in your assignment instructions, and what they mean.
Writing good introductions
Look at our 60 second study tips: Writing an introduction.

Academic assignment types

Information on how to approach, develop and structure the other main types of academic assignment.

Reflective writing (435KB)
Some courses require students to reflect on aspects of their practice and learning
Reflective writing with examples (423KB)
Resource from the University of New South Wales Australia
Literature reviews (469KB)
Purpose of the literature and the process of preparing one
Example of literature review (1MB)
A literature review from a journal article on an education theme.
Research proposals (390KB)
A run down of all the elements to remember to include in a research proposal
Critiques (426KB)
Purpose, guidelines and format of a critique.
Position papers (458KB)
Why students are asked to write them, and how to go about it.
Example of a Position paper (249KB)
King et al. (2010) position paper on the theme of disability education (5 pages)
Reports (406KB)
Knowing what to include in your science report and how to structure the information.
Scientific Report structure
Resource provided by the University of Waikato library on the structure of scientific reports.
Case studies
Information about case studies

Word use

Lists of words and phrasing that are core components of academic writing:

Linking words and phrases (398KB) ... or here is another list from
The kinds of relationships between ideas that writers need to signal, and the words and phrases that signal those links.
Verbs of attribution (95KB)
Verbs that writers can use to identify information provided by their cited sources.
Presenting a point of view (301KB)
Verbs that allow writers to introduce different points of views in different ways.
University of Manchester academic phrasebank 
A comprehensive resource providing useful sentence patterns to call upon in academic writing.


To support our thoughts and arguments in academic writing we need to cite other writers' ideas, but we must be careful that we do not plagiarize.  Information on how to paraphrase effectively:

Expressing voice in academic writing (384KB)
A series of annotated texts identifying the students' voices in their assignments as distinct from the voices of their cited authors.

Editing and proof-reading

Information on how to check your assignment and identify any problems with the structure, development or language use.

Editing and proofreading (397KB)
A step-by-step guide of things to do and consider as you polish up your assignment before submitting it for grading.
Essays - editing and proofreading (416KB)
A worksheet to focus your attention on the elements (from overall to specific) that your lecturers expect you will have addressed when proofreading your essays.
Reports - editing and proofreading (317KB)
A worksheet to focus your attention on the elements (from overall to specific) that your lecturers expect you will have addressed when proofreading your reports.
Using apostrophes (511KB)
A lesson on when you should and when you should not use an apostrophe.
A funky visual online dictionary that can help you check the accuracy of your words.
List of proofreaders (725KB)
Proofreading is not a Student Learning service; these are professional proofreaders (a paid service).