Study Academic Writing Skills with our Oxford Summer School 2018 | Students aged 16-18
Class Summary

The ability to write a clear, coherent, and persuasive essay in good English is crucial in many areas of academia and beyond. This workshop is designed to assist students in the development of this key skill. Under guidance from ORA’s expert teacher, students will hone their abilities through such activities as:

  • discussing what makes a “good” essay, including grammatical constructions and paragraph presentation
  • study of academic writing conventions, such as formatting a bibliography and how to avoid plagiarism
  • writing short essays for assessment, and peer-reviewing them as a class

The Academic Writing Skills workshop is the perfect choice for any student looking to add that extra polish to their course work, personal statement or exam essays.  The workshop complements any of the morning subjects on the Broadening Horizons course, helping improve students’ writing skills for a broad spectrum of subjects.

Essay styles and best practices vary widely around the world; the skills that make for a good essay by the standards and norms of one country’s academic environment might not hold in another. Therefore, any student from outside the UK who is considering moving to an English school or going to university in the UK would be well advised to give themselves a head start by learning the style that British teachers, lecturers and admissions tutors will prefer.

The skill of writing a good essay is hard to master, but once learned, is immensely valuable. Having good ideas is only half the battle; presenting them in an engaging, persuasive and mature way is the other half, and it is equally crucial. The conventions of academic English, such as the strict avoidance of the first person, the differing use of tenses in History and English essays, or the correct tone for a scientific report, can be mystifying and ignorance of them can lose a student a significant number of marks until they have been grasped. Through this workshop, students will learn these conventions so that they can write essays in the preferred academic style.

As with all ORA courses, this workshop is based heavily in collaboration, discussion and constructive criticism. Students should be prepared to give helpful feedback to their peers and receive feedback in turn. Understanding how best to implement and learn from feedback is a crucial skill for anyone wishing to improve in essay writing, and will be a focus of this course. Students will learn how to give feedback respectfully and how to respond to feedback well.

Other skills addressed will include planning and structuring an essay, editing and proofreading, and the correct use of footnotes, references and bibliographies. Students will also learn the fine detail of good academic language, and how to use language that sounds sophisticated without obfustication.


While this course is targeted at students with minimal or no experience of writing essays in English, a minimum level of English is required. Students should speak and write English at CEFR level C1 (equivalents to IELTS 6.5-7.0) or above. If any student is unsure about their English level for this course, they can request a free English test to assess their suitability for this course. Students with English below level C1 are recommended to take our IELTS Preparation course, which is suitable for students at CEFR level B2 and above.