Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Academic Reading, Writing and Speaking in English for Postgraduates

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology

DESCRIPTION This study-unit comprises content at postgraduate level in the three major areas of academic literacy as follows:

- Academic reading, in particular as regards sourcing, accessing and evaluating appropriate source material and storing it in a database;
- Academic writing, in particular as regards the writing of long essays, dissertations and theses, but also comprising related word processing, proofreading and editing skills;
- Academic speaking, in particular as regards giving and actively participating in presentations and research seminars.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to familiarise students with the appropriate reading, writing and speaking skills necessary for research-based or taught postgraduate study. As such, it aims to provide students with the practical and evaluative academic reading and writing skills necessary for the production of long essays/dissertations/theses, and with the academic speaking skills necessary for the presentation of papers and active participation at conferences and research seminars.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

This study-unit is not knowledge-based, except insofar as its attempt to ensure that the skills learnt are discipline specific wherever appropriate. This element is most marked in the writing component and least marked in the reading and speaking components where it is not so much the skills learnt as the thematic content that tends to have a disciplinary orientation. Most of the learning outcomes are therefore more correctly located in 'Skills'.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Create a bibliography for their dissertation/thesis topic constituted of sources appropriate for academic work at postgraduate level in general and their discipline in particular;
- Identify different types of academic journals and different types of journal articles with a focus on their general evaluation as well as their appropriacy in terms of possible avenues for publication;
- Source and access reading material more efficiently using the resources available through the UOM library and otherwise, in particular those that have become available more recently;
- Build a database; write in-text citations and create a reference list using Refworks;
- Produce an outline of their literature review (in the form of a list of headings and subheadings) and a draft section of it (in the form of approximately 400 words of running text);
- After feedback, produce an edited and proofread version of the outline and draft section of the literature review previously submitted showing, where necessary, corrected grammar, spelling and punctuation, and improved academic style in particular in terms of levels of formality and avoidance of wordiness;
- Articulate appropriate general aims and research questions for their research project;
- Identify what would generally be considered as the defining characteristics of appropriately written component parts of extended dissertations/theses including abstracts and IMRAD subsections, as well as some of their more common pitfalls;
- Give 20-minute academic presentations using PowerPoint, showing an ability to gauge the appropriate time: material ratio and answer questions from the floor;
- Ask appropriate questions and participate actively during academic presentations and research seminars.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts:

- Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. London: Sage.
- Feak, C., & Swales, J. (2009). Telling a research story: Writing a literature review. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Murray, R. (2011). How to write a thesis (3rd ed.). Berkshire: Open University Press.
- Van Emden, J., & Becker, L. (2010). Presentation skills for students (2nd ed.). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Supplementary reading:

- American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Anderson, K., Maclean, J. & Lynch, T. (2004). Study speaking: A course in spoken English for academic purposes (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Bazerman, C. (1994). The informed writer: Using sources in the disciplines (5th ed.). Retrieved from
- Brown, A. (n.d.). Postgraduate resources: Academic writing. Retrieved June 10, 2011, from
- Cottrell, S. (2011). Critical thinking skills (2nd ed.). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Davis, M. (2004). Scientific papers and presentations (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
- Glaser, J. (2009). Understanding style: Practical ways to improve your writing (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. London: Sage.
- Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, M. A.: Harvard University Press.
- Meadows, A. J. (1997). Communicating research. San Diego: Academic Press.
- Robinson, M. S., Stoller, F. L., Costanza-Robinson, & M. S., Jones, J. K. (2008). Write like a chemist. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Sprague, J., Stuart, D., & Bodary, D. (2008). The speaker’s handbook (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
- Weissberg, R., & Buker, S. (1990). Writing up research: Experimental research report writing for students of English. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Group Learning, Lecture, Seminar & Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation See note below Yes 20%
Examination (1 Hour and 30 Minutes) See note below Yes 35%
Portfolio See note below Yes 45%
Note: Assessment due date will be notified by the Faculty/Institute/Centre/School.

LECTURER/S Conrad Aquilina
Paul A. Falzon
Luke Galea

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.