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Thesis Writing Courses

There are two writing course options for MPhil/PhD students:

Option A is a 34-hour taught course. Participants should be registered on an MPhil/PhD course, be in the first year of their course and have yet to start the upgrading / transfer process. 

Option B consists of 5 individual tutorials, each for one UCL 'teaching hour' of 50 minutes (i.e. starting at 5 minutes past the hour and finishing at 5 minutes to the next hour). Participants should have successfully passed their upgrading/transfer and should be starting the third year of full-time study (fourth year of part-time study). Participants will preferably have completed Thesis Writing Option A.

Application. Students applying for Graduate School funding should complete both parts of the application form (including pages 3 and 4 for the Graduate School) in order to reserve their place on the course.

Option A:

Days Times and Dates 8.5 weeks of 4 hours per week

Term 1: Week commencing 14 October 2013 – week ending 13 December 2013

[*** No courses are available in Term 1; additional places will be provided on courses in Term 2 and Term 3 ***]

Term 2: Week commencing 27 January 2014 – week ending 28 March 2014

Monday 09:00-11:00 and Thursday 09:00-11:00

OR Monday 13:00-15:00 and Thursday 13:00-15:00

Term 3: Week commencing 5 May 2014 – week ending 4 July 2014

Tuesday 09:00-11:00 and Friday 09:00-11:00

OR Tuesday 13:00-15:00 and Friday 13:00-15:00

Option B: Days Times and Dates to be arranged between participant and allocated tutor

Costs (per term):

Option A
Option B
UCL £480 Other £600 UCL £350 Other £400

Course descriptions for Options A and B
Option A


Course for students registered on an MPhil/PhD course who require help with academic writing. There is a maximum of 12 participants per class.

Course Aims

  • to develop awareness of the theory and conventions of academic writing
  • to analyse the sequence of information in essays and chapters of a PhD thesis
  • to encourage students to develop their writing skills through guided practice and weekly tutor feedback

Taught Content

Each group is taught over one term for 34 hours. This consists of twice-weekly two-hour classes over a period of 8.5 weeks. Please note that courses continue during UCL Reading Weeks.

Course Outline

Option A is organised as follows, though some changes in content and timing may be made in order to reflect the exact needs of the students on the course (for example, fewer or additional topics may be covered):

  • Paragraph structure/ Unity and Coherence
  • Essay structure
  • Introductory and Concluding paragraphs
  • The stages in an introductory chapter
  • Literature Review
  • Methods and Materials
  • Results
  • Discussions
  • Abstract
  • Sentence structures and punctuation
  • Style
  • Argumentation

Homework is an integral part of the course. Students will also be encouraged to produce short pieces of continuous writing. This writing will be marked using a marking code (see below) from which the students will self-correct. Detailed comments will also be provided. Each class starts with a discussion on homework to further critical thinking. There is no final examination or assessment. Tutors will not be able to help with ongoing work which has not yet been submitted.


The two books used in the course are:

  • Oshima, A & A Hogue (2006) Writing Academic English. Harlow: Pearson Longman
  • Weissberg, R & S Buker (1990) Writing up Research: Experimental Report Research Writing for Students of English. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents

Participants are expected to come to the first class with Oshima and Hogue, Writing Academic English (2006)

Online resources

Guidance for the MPhil/PhD upgrade:


Guidance for writing PhD theses:


Option B

Course for students registered on an MPhil/PhD and who have successfully passed their upgrading/transfer.  The course consists of 5 individual tutorials over a period of up to 12 months arranged at times convenient to both student and tutor.

In the tutorials, suggestions are offered aimed to consolidate and extend the student’s academic writing, and reinforcement exercises provided to improve the structure and style of research students’ writing. 

Extracts of students’ work will be read and commented on for general structure.  A short section of the work may be marked in more detail for surface features (grammar, spelling, punctuation and vocabulary). 

Work should be submitted to the Thesis Writing tutor at least two weeks before the tutorial.  Students are expected to complete the recommended follow-up exercises and to submit them together with the next piece of written work.

Please note: Student writing cannot be proof-read.

24 hours' notice must be given to cancel pre-arranged tutorials, otherwise the tutorial will be forfeited.

The Marking Code

Tutors use this marking code when correcting your written work. Please note that tutors may not correct every mistake, but are likely to focus on the most important ones. When your written work is returned to you, you should make the necessary corrections and resubmit your work.



Full Form/



WO Word Order Change the word order/rearrange the sentence.
T Tense Think which tense should have been used.
SP Spelling Check the correct spelling of the word in a dictionary.
ART Article An indefinite or definite article is necessary (or NO article).
P Punctuation There is a punctuation mark missing, or you have put in a punctuation mark unnecessarily, or perhaps you used a wrong punctuation mark.
C Concord (1) The verb does not agree with the subject (2) The relationship between words which determines whether they should be singular or plural, masculine or feminine, and what the form of the verbal group should be
PREP Preposition You have used a wrong preposition.
WF Wrong Form Search for an appropriate derivational form of the word.
WW Wrong Word An inappropriate word or phrase has been chosen.
St Style This form/word/expression is inappropriate in this context / situation. Make it more academic / formal (or more colloquial).
? unclear I do not understand what you mean.
^ sth missing There is a word (or words) missing.
PARA New paragraph It is better to start a new paragraph.
! Simple mistake You should know what is wrong here.
(tick) good This part is well written.
(curving line) no need for a new sentence/ word The idea should be joined in a single sentence / should be one word.
(wavy line) Meaning is unclear This part should be expressed more accurately (clearly).


In order to benefit fully from Option A, we strongly recommend 100% attendance. If you have to miss a class, please inform the tutor beforehand, either by email to the tutor or by leaving a message at CLIE Reception.

For Option B, 24 hours' notice must be given to cancel pre-arranged tutorials. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the tutorial hour.

Staff-Student Consultative Exercise

There will be an opportunity for students in part-time English classes to give general feedback on the course to representatives of CLIE.

Academic support

If you have any questions about your course, please feel free to ask your tutor. Alternatively, you may like to contact the Course Co-ordinator, Mrs Daphne Thomas, in Room 115 at CLIE. Email: daphne.thomas@ucl.ac.uk

Administrative support

If you have any administrative enquiries, please contact the EAP Office, Room 121, at CLIE. Email: pteap@ucl.ac.uk

Page last modified on 13 dec 13 10:21 by James W Knopp