SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

Reading Skills and Note-taking

The Reading Skills and Note-taking course runs for 4 or 5 weeks and aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness with which students deal with academic texts. Strategies will be introduced and practiced to enable students to gather and keep information more successfully. The course will be very practical and will maintain relevance by encouraging students to use material from their own academic studies as a basis for the classes. The course will be delivered online in term 1 of 2020. There will be a mixture of asynchronous self-study (for 1-2 hours per week approximately) and one hour synchronous live sessions using Collaborate on BLE.

Areas covered will include:
  • Reading selectively, handling a reading list
  • Reading for a purpose
  • Skimming, scanning and reading for detail
  • Paraphrasing and summarising
  • Identifying key ideas and following arguments
  • Selecting and prioritising information
  • Developing use of abbreviations, acronyms, signs and symbols
  • Laying out notes
  • Looking at note-taking strategies
  • Reading complex sentences
  • Reading critically, identifying counter-argument and ideological position

Scope and syllabus

This course is recommended for those who scored slightly lower in the reading subscore of their standardised English test, or who want to develop the basic skills of skimming, scanning, reading for detail, note-taking, paraphrasing and summary writing. Reading skills are closely related to reporting published works in writing. Students will be encouraged to engage with texts from their own reading lists. The reading and note-taking course is available in blocks 1, 2 and 3.


 The timetable will be available when the application form for each particular block is released. Please keep an eye out for the new application form for each block.

Suggested reading

  • Glendinning, E. Holmstrom, B., (2004) Study Reading: A Course in Reading Skills for Academic Purposes, Cambridge: CUP
  • Godfrey, J. (2013) How to use your reading in your essays. Palgrave Study Skills, London: Macmillan.
  • Mosback, (1976) Practical Faster Reading, Cambridge: CUP.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules