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Academic Writing and Referencing for your Education Degree

Academic Writing and Referencing for your Education Degree

Jane Bottomley | Steven Pryjmachuk | David Waugh



If you are embarking on a university-based education degree, including initial teacher training, the books in this series will help you acquire and develop the knowledge, skills and strategies you need to achieve your goals. They provide support in all areas important for university study, including institutional and disciplinary policy and practice, self-management, and research and communication. Tasks and activities are designed to foster aspects of learning which are valued in higher education, including learner autonomy and critical thinking, and to guide you towards reflective practice in your study and work life.


Academic Writing and Referencing for your Education Degree provides you with a sound knowledge and understanding of:

  • what constitutes good academic writing in education
  • a range of strategies for writing successful essays and reports
  • the importance of clarity and coherence in your writing about education
  • how to improve your academic style, grammar and punctuation, and formatting and presentation
  • referencing conventions in the field of education, and of how to avoid plagiarism.


David Waugh is a former deputy headteacher who has worked in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) from 1990 at the University of Hull, where he led the PGCE course and became Head of Department.  In 2008 he was appointed as a National Strategies Regional Adviser for ITT.  He is currently Director of the Primary PGCE at Durham University, where he is also subject leader for English. He has published extensively in primary English, as well as developing e-learning resources for National Strategies for English, mathematics and mentoring and coaching.

Jane Bottomley is a Senior Language Tutor at the University of Manchester and a Senior Fellow of the British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes (BALEAP).She has been involved in the development of a number of content-based academic study skills courses at the University of Manchester and has published widely in this field. 

Steven Pryjmachuk is Professor of Mental Health Nursing Education in the School of Health Science's Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Manchester and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His teaching, clinical and research work has centred largely on supporting and facilitating individuals – be they students, patients or colleagues – to develop, learn or care independently. In December 2014, Steven was elected as vice Chair (2015-16) and Chair (2017-18) of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK, an organisation representing 65 Higher Education Institutions providing education and research on mental health nursing.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover 1
Half-title i
Series information ii
Title page iii
Copyright information iv
Table of contents v
Acknowledgements vi
Meet the series editor and authors vii
Introduction viii
A note on terminology ix
Chapter 1 Academic writing: text, process and criticality 1
Academic writing at university: a new start? 1
Academic writing for education undergraduates 3
The writing process 4
Approaching a writing assignment 5
Analysing a writing assignment 5
Discussion: unpacking essay titles and questions 7
Planning 7
Reading and information gathering 8
Writing essentials 11
Writing critically 11
Stance 11
Argument 12
Nuance 12
Expressing stance 13
Discussion: writing critically 14
Discussion: summarising your argument 17
The importance of evidence 17
Writing essays 18
Essay structure 19
Introduction (the ‘beginning’) 19
Main body of the text (the ‘middle’) 19
Summary and/or conclusion (the ‘end’) 19
Reflective essays 20
Writing short reflections for journals or portfolios 24
Discussion: reflective writing 25
Writing in exams 26
Discussion: answering exam questions 27
Writing dissertations 28
References 30
Chapter 2 Coherent texts and arguments 31
Planning for coherence 31
Editing and redrafting for coherence 35
The truth about writing! 35
Putting yourself in the reader’s shoes 35
Discussion: editing and redrafting for coherence 37
Writing essay introductions and conclusions 37
Cohesion and paragraph structure 38
General and specific information 40
Old and new information 41
Referring back in the text: repetition, variation and pronoun use 42
Referring back in the text: useful words and phrases 44
Linking ideas 47
Developing a coherent argument and expressing criticality 50
Discussion: developing a coherent argument 52
Paragraph 1 52
Paragraph 2 52
Paragraph 3 52
The language of criticality 52
Discussion: identifying stance 53
References 55
Chapter 3 Referring to sources 56
Terminology 56
Why should I reference? 57
How should I reference? 57
The Harvard system 57
Example (main text) 57
Example (final reference list) 58
Referencing styles 58
Using the Harvard system 58
In-text conventions in the Harvard system 59
Multiple references 59
Direct quotations 59
The use of ‘et al’ 60
Compiling your final list of references in the Harvard system 60
Referencing books 60
Referencing chapters in edited books 61
Referencing journal articles 61
Theses and dissertations 62
Conference proceedings 62
Newspapers and magazines 63
Organisational or ‘corporate’ authors 63
Common problems in referencing 63
Authors with multiple outputs in the same year 63
Secondary citations 64
Electronic sources of information 64
Variations in referencing 65
Using sources critically 67
Discussion: critical use of sources 70
Academic malpractice 73
Chapter 4 Language in use 75
Academic style 75
Clarity 76
Discussion: clarity 76
Strategies for achieving clarity 77
Formality 79
Discussion: identifying formal style 80
Discussion: word choice 81
Strategies for making your writing more formal 83
Grammar, spelling and punctuation 85
Common areas of difficulty in grammar and spelling 86
Quantifiers 86
Grammatical agreement 86
Commonly confused words 86
Common areas of difficulty in punctuation 88
The apostrophe 88
Hyphens 89
Brackets 89
Punctuation and sentence structure 89
Full stops 89
Commas 90
Colons 92
Semi-colons 92
Focus on fragments and run-on sentences 92
Focus on ‘hanging participles’ (sometimes known as ‘dangling participles’) 93
Focus on relative clauses 94
Refining grammar and punctuation 94
Parallel structures 95
Chapter 5 Preparing your work for submission 99
Are you ready to submit your work? 99
Have you done what you were asked to do? 99
Have you stuck to the word count? 100
Are you clear about the submission process? 100
Editing and proofreading your final text 101
Editing your final text 101
Systematic treatment of names and titles 101
Systems for highlighting language 103
Discussion: systems for highlighting language 104
Proofreading 104
Formatting 106
Line spacing 106
Discussion: line spacing 107
Paragraph formatting 107
Discussion: paragraph formatting 108
Formatting tables and diagrams 109
Presentation 110
What should my essay look like? 110
1) It should have a title page 110
2) The word count should be written on the document 112
3) Your pages should be numbered 112
4) It should be written using an appropriate font 112
5) The font size should be readable and appropriate 112
6) It should look professional 112
7) It should follow printing guidelines 112
Finding advice and support 113
Appendix 1: English language references 115
Dictionaries 115
Grammar books 115
Other resources 116
Appendix 2: Grammatical terminology 117
Appendix 3: Key phrases in assignments 120
Appendix 4: Academic levels at university 121
Answer key 122
Index 132