UCL News


Hands on tuition

9 May 2006

UCL students looking for help with writing and structuring their work have been flocking to see John Hands, the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at UCL.

John, who is based in the UCL History of Art building, is onsite two days a week during term time to help both graduate and undergraduate students improve their written work.

As a professional writer who has published three novels, one non-fiction book, and several research reports, John is well placed to advise students on how to get the most out of their assignments. "UCL students are really bright and I feel greatly privileged to be here, but they often don't know how to express themselves clearly in writing or to plan and structure their work effectively, which is where I come in", explained John.

John offers one-to-one tuition specifically designed for individual needs: "I encourage students to send me their written work or plan before the meeting so that I can identify and mark the elements that need strengthening.  I then spend an hour showing them a tool kit of techniques that they apply to improve their work."

As well as offering advice on structure and clarity John can give valuable advice on style, particularly for those trying to get their papers published in journals: "Once we've addressed matters of structure and clarity, then we can tackle effective style. I always say 'let's write it well because there's a lot of competition out there'. There are a lot of people out there with lots to read, so it's imperative to make sure your work stands out from the crowd."

The sessions are open to students from all disciplines and have been taken up by science, engineering, medical and life science students as well as arts-based scholars. Most are referred to John by other students or their supervisors and almost all are very positive about the experience: "It's very rewarding to help people realise their potential and get such good feedback."

John is the author of three novels: 'Brutal Fantasies', 'Darkness at Dawn' and 'Perestroika Christi', all published in the UK by HarperCollins, and he is currently working on a non-fiction book about evolution.

To make an appointment to see John, or to find out more about the Royal Literary Fund, use the links at the bottom of this article.