Academic Writing 1 for GSNS Master Students


Course description

Academic writing is one of the more important skills any researcher should have. No matter how brilliant or innovate your research, it is of little value if you cannot communicate your insights clearly and convincingly in scientific articles, so that peer researchers can both verify and build on it. They say the best scientists are also the best writers! Fortunately, writing is a skill that you can learn, and the learning process can be a fun one if given the right tools.

In this 8-week course, you will learn how to improve your writing strategies, build up your text, structure your writing, and write in a clear and professional academic style. Learning takes place through e-learning modules on the ULearning platform, supplemented with several online meetings.

Learning objectives

In this course, you learn how to:

  1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses in your writing process, optimize your writing strategies, and show personal growth as a writer.
  2. Compose a writing plan and create a good overall structure in your scientific texts with an eye for storyline and argumentation.
  3. Write in a good academic style using correct English, with special attention for clarity and conciseness.
  4. Compose paragraphs with good topic sentences and internal structure, and readable sentences of appropriate length and internal order.
  5. Apply the principles of cohesion in your writing to create a text that is perceived as high-standard.
  6. Give critical yet constructive feedback on the written work of peers and use this process to improve your own writing.

By achieving these learning goals, you will gain confidence in writing and eventually become a more successful science professional.


You should either be working on a thesis report, or ready to write a minimum of 700 words about your own research, such as a literature overview or a short report of recent results. Usually, this requires that you have started a (major) research project at least two months before the writing course starts. The deadline for completing your thesis should be at least two weeks after the end of this course.

This course is suitable both for students who already consider themselves good writers and students who still struggle with writing. There is always something to learn!  

This course teaches how to write an academic text in the natural or life sciences but does not delve deeply into genre-specific details, such as how to write a Results or Method section. This makes this Academic Writing 1 course suitable for any type of paper, report, or proposal, and for any field within the natural or life sciences. Those interested in learning more about writing a scientific paper in the IMRaD structure (Introduction – Methods – Results – Discussion) can proceed in the future with the course Academic Writing 2: Writing a High-Level Scientific Report, which is under development.

Instructional method

You are trained through weekly e-learning modules on the ULearning platform consisting of theory, examples, short knowledge clips, and interactive exercises. Throughout the course, you will also engage in peer feedback, and receive feedback from your teacher. There will be 4 online meetings, each 1 hour long, in which you can get to know your teachers and peers and engage in discussion.

The course consists of 8 modules, spread over 8 weeks:

  1. The writing process and writing strategies
  2. Structuring a text by composing a writing plan
  3. Paragraphs: key sentences and internal structure
  4. Sentence readability and tools for cohesion
  5. Academic style and revision techniques
  6. Energizing verbs (active/passive, nominalizations) and secrets to concise writing
  7. Correct English (punctuation, spelling and grammar)
  8. Solidifying and deepening knowledge and skills  

This course is specially designed for master students in the natural and life sciences, and all provided examples will be from natural and life sciences writing. It will, therefore, feel different than general language courses that you may have followed before, and more applicable to your current needs as a science student.

I helped create this course while I was writing my master’s thesis. I’m now more aware of my writing pitfalls and have the tools to overcome them. My thesis is better for it! I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to write structured, critical, precise, and impactful texts. What you learn in this course will benefit you for the rest of your career!

Kyra (GSNS master student)

Group Size

18 to 25 participants

Course Schedule

The course dates and meeting schedule are given below. The average amount of time you will need to spend on the course is around 4 hours/week. Note that this does not include the time of doing the actual writing of your research report or writing task, but it includes the time needed to improve this writing or undertake specific assignments with it. If you do not have a writing task that you are already doing, this course may take you a little extra time.

Apart from the meetings and a few minor deadlines that may be mid-week (usually when interaction with peers is required in the second half of the week), you are free to plan your course work anywhere in the week as long as you complete the units of the week before the next ones are released (on Mondays).

Meetings are from 9:00-10:00h. 

Start Date

Monday Sep 4

Meeting week 2

Tuesday Sep 12

Meeting week 3

Tuesday Sep 19

Meeting week 6

Tuesday Oct 10

Meeting week 7

Tuesday Oct 17

Final deadline

Monday Oct 30

Registration will take place on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that if we do not get the minimum required number of registration to fill one group, the course may be cancelled, which will be communicated by mid July the latest. If we have enough students for multiple groups, these will be organized. 

Edubadge for academic writing


You will not receive any EC credits for this course, but if you complete the following elements successfully, you will receive an Edubadge:

  • Presence in all online meetings
  • Completing all ULearning units on time
  • Active participation in several peer feedback tasks (including timely submission)
  • Completing a final writing task (700 words)
  • Completing a short reflection report

An Edubadge is a digital certificate recognized by the Dutch education network (SURF) that you can put on your resume (CV) or on your LinkedIn page. Future employers can verify whether you have received this certificate and have access to the course description.


This course is free for all GSNS Master students. Coska will pay the course fee for you. We do have limited budget and would like to spend our money well on your education, so please do commit to this course once signing up and do not drop out. Your course fee would still have to be paid and this money would be lost. Allow us to contribute to your academic success by participating in this course seriously! 


Registration has closed.

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