Academic Writing in the Language, Literacy and Communication (llc) Programme School of Education Faculty of Humanities The University of Manchester

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Academic Writing in the Language, Literacy and Communication (LLC) Programme

School of Education

Faculty of Humanities

The University of Manchester

© 2007 Alex Baratta

Table of Contents

1. Academic Writing across Communities 3

2. The Purpose of Your Essay 5

3. Argument and Structure 7

3.1 Argument 7

3.2 The Additional Components of an Introduction Paragraph:

Background, Essay Map and ‘the Hook’ 9

    1. Structure 12

    2. The Conclusion 14

4. Knowledge and Understanding 16

5. Use of Sources 18

6. Analysis 19

7. Presentation and Language 22

7.1 Grammar 22

7.2 Style 23

7.2.1 Mistakes to Avoid 26

8. Final Considerations 27


When you consider the conventions of academic writing, you might think of the need for formal words, an objective tone, Standard English grammar and sufficient support for your points. These are indeed aspects of good academic writing. However, academic writing is not the same for every department and this is one reason why the handbook has been prepared for you: to help familiarise you with academic writing conventions in the LLC programme.

There are several different academic communities that exist; here at The University of Manchester, we have the following four communities:

  • Engineering and Physical Sciences

  • Humanities

  • Life Sciences

  • Medical and Human Sciences

Within each of these communities are many departments (or ‘schools’), within which are several programmes of study. In your case, you belong to the LLC programme, within the School of Education, within the Humanities community. The question is: what implications does this have for your essay writing?

The Humanities community generally produces essays which are a bit more personal, seen, for example, with a more frequent use of first person (more frequent than, say, the Science department). This is because Humanities deals with humans (e.g. investigating aspects of human life, such as how we use language) and this means that with a focus on people, and in some cases a focus on yourself within your essay, the writing may tend to have the more personal style mentioned above. This does not mean that you should use first person repeatedly, such as I think, I believe, in my opinion, as repetition is something to avoid in academic writing, regardless of department. Nonetheless, first person usage is not prohibited and its usage may also translate into less passive voice than you might expect and more active voice instead:

Passive: The way people in this region communicate has been recorded.

Active: I have recorded the way people in this region communicate.

In addition, this personal style can also lead to fewer nominalizations, which are the noun forms of verbs or adjectives. For example, entertainment is the nominalization of the verb to entertain and happiness is the nominalization of the adjective happy. Nominalizations, and passive voice, are perhaps more common in Science departments such as Chemistry and Physics, as together, these two linguistic features take away the need to mention a human subject (such as ‘I’), thus providing the more objective and impersonal essay writing that Science is well known for. For example:

Nominalization/Passive Usage:

The transcription (nominalization) of the speech was finished (passive) yesterday.

as opposed to.....

I finished transcribing the speech yesterday.

Below is an example of academic writing within the LLC programme, taken from a student’s essay from the Literacy and Social Development course unit. Here you can see a more personal tone, but for LLC, no less professional. In fact, the student received a score of ‘70’ for this essay:

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