SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

Academic Essay Writing

The full Academic Essay Writing course runs for 9 or 10 weeks and aims to give students a clear idea of how to approach writing an academic essay. As well as looking at academic conventions connected with academic writing, the classes will also introduce strategies to ensure that writing tasks are completed effectively. The course will be very practical and will involve writing practice in classes as well as some homework.

Areas covered will include:
  • Types of essay
  • Analysis of essay titles
  • Planning an argument
  • Structuring an introduction and a conclusion
  • Thesis statement development
  • Supporting arguments
  • Using and acknowledging sources
  • Text cohesion and signposting
  • Academic style and register


Courses are 9 or 10 weeks long (term 1 and 2) and 4 or 5 weeks long (term 2). Each class lasts 2 hours.

Scope and syllabus

The course covers key lessons on planning and organising an essay (3000-5000 words) using counter-argument, writing an introduction and conclusion, writing a thesis statement, referencing using direct and indirect quotation, paraphrasing and summary writing, avoiding plagiarism, academic style and useful expressions in academic essay writing. In term 1 to 2, 9 and 10 week courses run, while in term 2 there are shorter 4 and 5 week courses available. Teaching takes the form of small classes of 10 or so, with personalised workshop activities as well as general input sessions. Students are expected to do some writing in the course, but homeworks should not be too time-consuming. Most writing exercises take place in the class. For the smooth running of the course, full attendance and completion of homework tasks is expected.


Times of different classes become available when the application form for each block is released. Block 1 application is released shortly before the start of term 1. Block 2 is released around reading week of term 1. Block 3 is available shortly before the start of term 2, for example. Please keep an eye out for when the relevant application forms become live.

Suggested reading

Arnaudet and Barrett (1990), Paragraph Development A guide for students of English. New York: Prentice Hall

Bailey, S. (2006), Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. London: Routledge

Day, T. (2013), Success in Academic Writing, Palgrave Study Skills. London: Macmillan

Greetham, B. (2013), How to Write Better Essays. Palgrave Study Skills. London: Macmillan

Swales and Feak (2004), Academic Writing for Graduate Students. Michigan: University of Michigan Press


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules