Help with academic skills and English

This section contains useful information and links for students wishing to improve their English, reading, writing or academic skills.

On this page...

Courses from the Learning Centre

The Learning Centre, which is part of the University's Student Services hosts short courses, ranging in length from 2–12 hours, that support students' reading, writing and academic skills. These courses are offered throughout the year, and are available to most students of the University.

For more information, please see the course website.

Units of study

Postgraduate students

EDPJ5024 – English in Academic Settings
Postgraduate students can enrol in the unit of study EDPJ5024. The aim of this unit is to improve academic writing and develop knowledge of the underlying theory of academic writing. It targets international students and students from non-English speaking backgrounds. In the practical sessions, students work on their own academic-writing tasks.

This unit of study is usually made available in:

  • Semester One (March commencement)
  • Semester Two (July commencement)

For more information about this unit of study visit the Arts and Social Sciences (Postgraduate) handbook or contact the unit of study coordinator: Dr David Hirsh.

Online guides and activities

Good places to start

The WriteSite is a resource developed by the University of Sydney to help students improve their writing. It contains three reaching modules: grammar, sources (including referencing) and essay structure. A UniKey ID and password are required for access to the site.

The UniLearning website is an online tutorial developed by the universities of Wollongong, Melbourne and Western Sydney. It has an easy-to-follow navigation system and interactive exercises (including referencing) with automated feedback.

The University of Canberra has an Academic Skills Program that provides some useful information on learning, writing and studying at University.

Help with academic writing

The St Cloud State University provides a comprehensive Online Literacy Program although it is important to note that the referencing system used by St Cloud State University differs from the system preferred by the Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

The latest version of the Oxford English Dictionary is available online at

Help with library skills

The University of Sydney Library provides online tutorials in:

Useful books and readings

  • Blanton, L. L. & Lee, L. (1998). Writing workshop: Promoting college success. Albany: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.
  • Clancy, J. & Ballard, B. (1986). Essay writing for students: A practical guide. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire.
  • Creme, P. & Lea, M. R. (1997). Writing at university. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Jordan, R. R. (1999). Academic writing course. Harlow: Longman.
  • Leki, I. (1998). Academic writing: Exploring processes and strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lovell, D. (2001). Macquarie student writer's friend. Sydney: Macquarie Library.
  • Oshima, A. & Hogue, A. (1997). Introducing academic writing. White Plains, NY: Longman.
  • Oshima, A. & Hogue, A. (1999). Writing academic English. White Plains NY: Longman.
  • Redman, P. (2001). Good essay writing: A social sciences guide. London: Open University/Sage Publications.
  • Swales, J. M. & Feak, C. B. (1994). Academic writing for graduate students: A course for nonnative speakers of English. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Swales, J. M. & Feak, C. B. (2000). English in today's research world. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Zwier, L. R. (2002). Building academic vocabulary. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.