Features of academic writing

Many students starting an undergraduate degree are uncertain about what they need to do to produce a good piece of written work at university. They often ask:

  • What is academic writing like?
  • How does it differ from the types of writing I do in my everyday life?
  • How does it differ from the types of writing I did at school?

Postgraduate students returning to academic study after some years in a job also worry about academic writing. They often comment that they have done little writing since completing their first degree, or that the types of writing they have done at work are very different from the academic assignments they are expected to produce in their postgraduate programmes.

In an attempt to address some of these questions and concerns, we have identified what we consider to be the key features of academic writing. We have grouped these features under six headings: