• Centre for Academic Development

    Enhancing student success

    At the Centre for Academic Development, we work with staff across the University to improve academic outcomes for students.

    You can learn more about our different areas of work by exploring the sections below, but we would particularly encourage colleagues to familiarise yourselves with the extensive range of workshops we are offering for students next semester as part of an enhanced transition to university study programme. Any support in promoting these events will be much appreciated. 

    If you are interested in embedding academic literacies (including language) into module content, this is the time of year to have a conversation with us. Applications for departmental, languages, literacies and skills for Semester 1 of 2021/22 should be made by Monday 28 June. Further details can be found below. 

    Contact us

    Centre for Academic Development

    For more information about our services, contact:

    0203 4260116

  • Academic English modules and short courses

    If you have concerns about a student’s use of English, please refer them to the Academic English team as soon as possible after they arrive at Brookes. The team offers a range of credit and non-credit-bearing modules for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which can really make a difference in helping students communicate effectively in their academic work. Topics covered include:

    • essay writing
    • report writing
    • presentation skills
    • seminar skills
    • argumentation
    • research writing
    • academic style
    • academic language
    • citations
    • referencing.

    The efforts of faculty staff in promoting these opportunities can have a major impact on engagement so please do take the time to familiarise yourself with what is available. It may be that you have a cohort of students that includes many for whom English is an additional language, in which case you may want to explore the possibilities available through our Language, Literacies and Skills programme of embedded academic development.

    Academic English modules and short courses

    Departmental Language, Literacies and Skills: Embedding academic development

    Through this programme, we work with staff directly to embed academic language and literacies development at subject level on a range of issues from assignment briefs and feedback, to ways of teaching maths and stats, or working with WP or international students. 

    Our preference is to embed what we do into programme content, rather than bolt it on so that students get an experience that is subject-specific and relevant to their needs.

    Recent contributions have included:

    • designing and delivering an academic writing skills module in HLS aimed at improving academic performance among students with protected characteristics
    • developing assignment focussed guided reading materials for self-study
    • running PhD writing retreats with faculty colleagues
    • offering feedback on the inclusivity of assignment briefs for international students
    • running numerous workshops within modules on a range of areas that includes critical thinking, presentation skills, reflective writing, and reading.

    We are a limited resource with a set number of hours to offer each subject area, but if you would like to explore how we might help in your module or subject area, then please follow the link below. Applications for DLLS support in 2021/22 close on 28 June.

    More about Departmental Language, Literacies and Skills

    Embedding academic development

    Online workshops

    In Semester 2 of 2020/21, we ran a series of online workshops, which were well-received and attended by students. In 2021/22, we plan to substantially extend this programme, with a Semester 1 focus on meeting the needs of students who are new to the university. Full details of what is on offer will be posted on our workshops page but among the sessions we plan to offer are:

    Becoming an Independent Learner

    Time Management

    What to read and how to read it

    Effective note-taking

    Reading into writing: using your notes to write

    What does it mean to be critical?


    Planning and Structuring Presentations

    Using visuals in presentations

    Grammar Workshop: What makes a good paragraph?

    Grammar Workshop: When is a sentence not a sentence?

    Improving Academic Style

    Assignments: What do they want you to do?

    Making the most of feedback

    Planning an essay and staying on task

    Preparing for exams

    Writing with sources

    Introductions and Conclusions

    Editing and Proofreading

    Starting your dissertation

    Literature Reviews


    In addition to the above, we will be designing a series of pre-arrival workshops, but once students have arrived, they can access all the sessions via the Centre for Academic Development Moodle page. 

    online courses

    1:1 tutorials

    Available to all students either online or face-to-face, our 40 minute 1:1s offer confidential study skills advice to students at any stage in their academic journey. Study skills tutorials are available every weekday and currently take place online. 

    In these sessions, tutors work with students on a wide range of issues including building confidence in writing, criticality, planning, and referencing. 

    We also have a limited amount of maths and stats support available, something we hope to increase in scope in the future.

    All students are invited to give anonymous feedback when attending 1:1 tutorials and in Semester 2 of 2020/21, 89% of respondents gave the service a 5-star rating. Here are some of their comments:

    • “Really helpful and friendly.”
    • “I received helpful advice that was specific to me to help me with my lack of motivation during the pandemic.”
    • “She taught me how to look for the issues that needed [to be] changed rather than just telling me which helped greatly.”
    • “The tutorial was very helpful in clarifying my assumptions about how to present statistical data and the results of the analysis.”
    • “[The tutorial] forced me to reflect on the value of my research and its contribution to existing knowledge, through the lens of an independent reader. Overall, I found the session and her feedback extremely beneficial.”
    1:1 online tutorials

    Online resources

    With advice on everything from writing abstracts to getting some quality sleep (ZZZZs!), our online resources page is a constantly curated bank of resources to develop academic skills that is popular with students and can sometimes prevent staff from having to reinvent the wheel.


    Do let us know what you think! We hope staff will link to these resources through Moodle and module content to help deliver study skills where they are needed.  

    Online resources

    The Writing Hub

    The Writing Hub aims to enable Brookes to develop into a community of writers who support each other to excel. It encompasses staff and students, our academic writers across the disciplines, our present or future professional writers and those at every stage of developing their writing.

    Throughout the year we host lectures, discussion groups, podcasts and more but the Writing Hub belongs to everyone so we invite you to get involved and contribute to its development. See the Writing Hub page for more details.

    The Writing Hub