Course Basic academic and professional English writing for natural sciences and technical sciences

ECTS: 2.5

Course leader: Morten Pilegaard

Language: English

Graduate school: Course collaboration

Course fee: 3,000.00 DKK

Status: Course is open for application

Semester: Spring 2024

Application deadline: 08/02/2024

Cancellation deadline: 22/02/2024

Course type: Classroom teaching

Start date: 13/03/2024

Administrator: Anne Fabricius

The course Basic academic and professional English writing for natural sciences and technical sciences is being offered by the Graduate School of Natural Sciences/GSNS and Graduate School of Technical Sciences/GSTS, Aarhus University, 2024.

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: Contact hours: 16; 2.5 hour per contact hour for preparation, 6 hours for assignments: 40; grand total 62 hours

Criteria for participation:
Course participants are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of lectures, show active participation in on-site or on-line discussions and complete a minimum of two written assignments.

To achieve the learning outcomes and competences specified above, the student has to acquire the following qualifications: (A) knowledge about 1) the conventions of specific academic text genres in natural sciences and technical sciences, including research papers, posters and conference abstracts; 2) the basic textual and discourse features of such genres including their cohesion and coherence; 3) efficient and effective processes for writing papers and responding to reviewers; 4) the main differences between grammar and language usage in general between native English and non-native English scholars and the typical errors made by non-native researchers publishing their papers in English; (B) proficiency in 1) the production and revision of specific types of academic text genres and text types in accordance with prevailing conventions for presentation, argumentation, summarizing, etc., in the field of natural sciences and technical sciences; 2) tracing and correcting inexpedient language features, including unidiomatic English and typical grammatical errors made by non-English native writers of academic English.

Aim: The aim of this course is to impart knowledge about and give course participants an introduction to academic text production in English within the field of natural sciences and technical sciences, applying textual and discourse strategies and methodologies in accordance with the current conventions of written academic English in natural sciences and technical sciences.

Learning outcomes and competences:  At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  1. Knowledge about guidelines and conventions governing the structuring of research papers in natural sciences and technical sciences.
  2. Knowledge of principles of cohesion and thematic structure in general and in research papers within the field of natural sciences and technical sciences in particular.
  3. Knowledge of some of the main differences between native and non-native English language speakers’ use of syntax and grammar.
  4. Ability to avoid common errors of syntax and grammar in English-language texts written by native English and non-native English researchers and scholars within the field of natural sciences and technical sciences.
  5. Ability to produce structurally and linguistically appropriate posters, abstracts and papers within the field of natural sciences and technical sciences.

Course contents:

Day 1

  1. Presentation of participants and course
  2. Reporting guidelines and conventions in natural sciences and technical sciences focused on reports and research papers.
  3. Writer-, reader- and process-oriented writing: techniques, tools and practical advice.
  4. Aids in writing for natural sciences and technical sciences including introduction basic English self-study materials, drills and answer key focused on English grammar.

Day 2

  1. Text and context: research paper, conference abstract, poster, response to reviewers and funding applications.
  2. Text types: cause-effect, argumentation, comparison/contrast, paraphrasing/summarizing and other text types.
  3. Grammar: From clear line of thought to clear presentation: Cohesion and coherence: paragraph structure; controlling and supporting ideas, transitions; given and new information.
  4. Conference abstract: Structuring and writing persuasive, crisp conference abstracts. How to get selected!

Day 3

  1. Grammar: Grammar pitfalls. ‘Problematic’ word classes. Contrastive differences between English native and non-native users’ grammar and language usage. Grammar drills.
  2. Poster: Building successful posters: the tricks of the trade.
  3. Research paper I: abstracts. Structure and language of abstracts; differences between conference abstracts and research paper abstracts; message condensation and compression.
  4. Research paper II: materials & methods, results sections of research paper. Structure and language in descriptive text types. Cause-effect, comparison/contrast.  Analysis of sample texts and students’ own texts.

Day 4

  1. Research paper III: introduction and discussion sections of research paper. Structure and language in expository and argumentative text types (argumentation; strengths/weaknesses (generalizability, bias, etc.). Analysis of sample texts and students’ own texts.
  2. Own texts: Plenary with discussion at students’ discretion and individual questions and counseling students’ papers in progress.
  3. Odds and ends & introduction to supplementary exercises for post-course basic Written English self-study.

Teaching methods: Activities and materials: The course will consist of a mixture of lectures and presentations, followed by exercises and discussions – either conducted as on-site or on-line sessions according to current university policies and - all based on relevant texts in natural sciences and technical sciences. Course materials will consist of texts, slides, drills and a collection of exercises and answer keys for in-course use and training on self-study basis for three months post course; students with work in progress are invited to have one or more sections of their texts discussed in plenary.

Literature: A comprehensive compendium of texts, including slides, research papers and scholarly presentations will be available on-line

Instructors: Morten Pilegaard

Venue: Arhus University, Aarhus

No show fee:
Course participants on our transferable skills courses, who do not show up at the course or cancel their course participation after the course cancellation deadline (without providing a doctor’s note), may have to pay a no-show fee, unless someone from the waiting list is able to take part in the course instead.

The no-show fee is DKK 1,200 (the price of one ECTS). The no-show fee has been introduced due to many late cancellations, thus preventing people from the waiting lists to have a seat at the courses.


  • Participation in the course is without cost for PhD students from Aarhus University

Due to an Agreement between Danish Universities coming into force as of 1 January 2011, participants from other universities than Aarhus University will have to pay DKK 1,200 per ECTS. In principle this also applies to external parties, but exemption can be granted under specific circumstances.

Please be aware that your registration for the course not necessarily equals your admission for the course. You will receive an e-mail after the registration deadline regarding whether you are admitted for the course or if you are registered on the waiting list. Please note that seats are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Course dates:

  • 13 March 2024 08:30 - 12:30
  • 20 March 2024 08:30 - 12:30
  • 04 April 2024 08:30 - 12:30
  • 10 April 2024 08:30 - 12:30