Writing at university

To write in an academic style appropriate for university, you need to be able to draw on evidence to present an informed response, demonstrate an understanding of the key features of academic writing, structure your writing appropriately and use academic language and writing conventions. This topic shows you how.

Learning outcomes

In this topic you will learn about making an informed response in writing for assessment tasks, including how to:

Introduction

Students are required to meet certain expectations when it comes to writing in an academic style appropriate for university. This can seem like a daunting task, but the good news is, an awareness of what the expectations are, paired with strategies for fulfilling these expectations, can make it much easier to develop good academic writing skills and approach assessment tasks with confidence.  

It is important to always keep in mind that your assessment task descriptions and marking rubrics outline specific task expectations and should always be referred to first. For help understanding task descriptions and marking rubrics see Preparing for assessments. Some units also provide unit writing guides which should also be followed carefully.  

This topic explains the need for an informed response, outlines the key features of an academic writing style, highlights the importance of a well-structured response and outlines basic academic writing conventions and language use.  

The need for an informed response  

The first and most important thing to remember when writing at university is that an academic writing style always requires an informed response. This means that you need to demonstrate critical thinking when formulating your response, and ensure that your ideas and arguments are supported by evidence.  

Evidence

The term evidence refers to facts, information, ideas, theories and concepts that are considered valid and reliable within an academic context. To learn more about locating evidence see Finding information. When writing at university, it is essential that you demonstrate an evidence based writing style by using citations to indicate that the information you present is supported by evidence and to acknowledge the source of that evidence. See Citing evidence & referencing and the guides on Evidence-rich writing under Writing at University on the Learning Zone Quick Guides page to learn more.

Critical thinking  

You will often come across the terms critical thinking, critical reading , critical analysis and critical judgement as you progress through your studies. In an academic context, being critical means evaluating or weighing up ideas and information to determine how reliable and useful it is.  In order to demonstrate critical thinking, you are required to collect, evaluate, organise and logically present relevant evidence that appropriately supports the points you are making as you formulate your informed response. See the detailed information in the pages below and Writing at University on the Learning Zone Quick Guides page to learn more.  

Key features of academic writing  

It is important that the content of your informed response is organised and presented appropriately.  An understanding of the following key features of an academic writing style, which can be thought of as “big picture” considerations, is crucial in achieving this.   

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