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Transkills: supporting transition to University



  • This course has been designed with the specific needs that many MML students have in relation to writing essays. However, it is not a 'remedial' course; all students should be stretched by this material, even (and sometimes especially) the brightest.
  • One of the key ideas which has informed the design of the course is that students will learn to become better writers through being better readers, i.e. that by learning to evaluate texts critically, they will be more self-critical of their own work. So the course uses a range of writing samples, taken from real undergraduate essays, which students are encouraged to read critically. Most parts of the course move from (a) the theory, to (b) exercises in which students read samples and evaluate them, and finally to (c) opportunities for students to reflect on their own work, or to practise writing, in the light of what they have learned.
  • You (or the students) may not agree with every point! The different perspectives which have emerged when I have taught these seminars make them very interesting. I have found it more useful to allow space for this debate than to press any particular point, as to my mind probably the most important benefit of this course is simply to create opportunities for students to reflect on the practice of writing outside of a normal supervision context.

Dr Joanna Page. Some material adapted from the Royal Literary Fund's Essay Guide and the American University in Cairo's Ten Steps to Writing an Essay.


  • Each session is designed to last 90 minutes, with the exception of the Revision & exam techniques seminar for Part IA (which I usually run for 60 minutes).
  • I run the seminars for the whole year group in MML, approx. 6-8 students together. They work best when there are at least 6 students present.
  • My own teaching notes and crib sheets are included in case they are of use.


Part IA (Michaelmas Term): What is an essay? - Introduction to writing skills - What supervisors want - Reading for supervision essays - Focusing on the question - Starting to plan - Constructing an argument

Part IA (Lent Term): Why do we write essays? - Writing introductions - Writing conclusions - Writing the main body of the essay - Engaging with primary texts or sources

Part IA (Easter Term): Revision styles - Focusing on the exam - Essay writing for exams

Part IB (Michaelmas Term): Five writers: which one are you? - Developing an argument - Using core statements - The introduction - The conclusion

Part IB (Lent Term): Speaking vs. writing - Features of academic writing - Writing to persuade - Approaching the Year Abroad Project - Referencing