Academic English Workshops at Clare Hall

Dr Rosie Luff believes in the power of the written word and nowhere more so than in the genre of Academic English. The ability to choose the right words and arrange them into flowing prose and persuasive argument is a skill that gives students the edge, especially when it comes to being ranked in course work essays, examinations, and dissertations. Indeed, this is the case with any kind of academic exercise be it a grant proposal or a research paper. Writing is an art, and, like any other discipline, requires considerable effort to achieve effect. However, students are in Cambridge for only a very short time (c. nine months with some MPhils), and thus need to ‘hit the ground running’ with respect to developing their communication skills. With this in mind, Dr Luff has set up an intensive and stimulating workshop programme at Clare Hall which addresses the main issues encountered in student writing. Originally aimed at non-native English speakers, it has also proved popular with native English speakers.

The workshops are unique because they seek to rectify common errors identified in a large number of postgraduate essays and theses spanning the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, and Technological Sciences. They have been developed over a twelve-year period benefiting from the input of a wide variety of students. The prime aim of the Level 1 (syntactical) workshops is to make students aware of the main pitfalls to avoid in academic writing, specifically with respect to grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. The Level 2 (rhetorical) workshops explain how to synthesize, summarize and structure texts in conjunction with presenting a compelling line of argument. The end result is that students are swiftly empowered to write clearly, concisely and coherently.

Test your academic English skills by identifying the errors in the following sentence:

Without going into too much detail, during the recent excavations an eighteenth-dynasty mummy was discovered using advanced geophysical survey techniques, which brings up the likely possibility that a nearby cemetery is close at hand.

For further information please contact the Tutorial Office.