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English Language Support: Academic Writing - Paragraphs

Academic writing - Paragraphs

Just attending this short course will provide many opportunities to analyse and then produce effective, well-constructed and appropriately styled paragraphs.   

Developing your own written academic competence is a continuous process, so hopefully you will also be motivated to extend and develop your independent and personal learning strategies. To help you to do this, we have put together some simple tips you might like to try and some resources you may find useful, too. 

Tips and techniques

Tips and techniques to help you with writing successful paragraphs:

Whatever you are trying to learn, it’s useful to: (i) find good models to base your own language on

(ii) repeatedly practise producing your own original language

(iii) get feedback on the language you produce

Here are some suggestions about how you can ensure that you are constantly developing your own paragraph writing:

  1. Everything you read as part of your studies can be an excellent model of what constitutes a good academic paragraph*, always bear this in mind. In the beginning, you may find it useful to highlight in different colours, the topic sentence, the supporting details, the reference to the literature, the writer's evaluative comment, the transitions between paragraphs etc
  2. Not all paragraphs have the same role, make sure to revise the conventions of writing introductory and concluding paragraphs, which are very different from those in the main body. 
  3. Set aside 30 minutes every day to read one academic paragraph from *your own discipline for the sole purpose of analysing how it is constructed as above in 1. This principle of ‘little but often’ really works! Your module tutors will often provide model texts to help you, don’t be afraid to ask.

  1. Organise your own English study groups with friends to provide greater motivation.

  1. Make full use of the excellent language learning support the university offers to answer any questions you need professional help with.

*this course will explore the generic academic paragraph. Obviously, there are variations in terms of genre and subject specific conventions depending on your discipline which it is your responsibility to explore with the help of the support available to you.

Recommended books in the library

Why not visit the library and browse the shelves for what you are looking for? Here are a couple of possibilities: 

The title says it all! 

Academic writing: from paragraph to essay  

This contains a whole chapter on paragraph writing (and a host of other useful topics, too) and it is designed for independent study- a good starting point: 

Academic writing: a handbook for international students  

Recommended websites

As with all resources, you need to make sure that they are reliable and trustworthy. Most universities produce materials to support students with their academic writing skills. Here is the Hull University one which former students have found particularly clear and useful:  Click here to watch 


As it says, this is a bank of resources so provides links to a huge number of relevant sites dealing with all aspects of English language learning including academic writing:  EAP resource bank ( 

Languages for All

Sign up for Languages for All and get free extra English practice with the language learning application, Rosetta Stone. 

Click here to start.