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Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS): Past events: Academic Writing Day

Academic Writing Day for Postgraduate Researchers:

Develop your confidence as a writer

14 February 2018, 9.00-12.30, Kimberlin Library


Guest speaker: Dr. Adrian Wallbank (Royal Holloway, University of London), author of Academic Writing and Dyslexia: A Visual Guide to Writing at University (2018)



Sessions overview

1.Plenary session: Argument, Agency and Originality: Exploring your Academic ‘Voice’ (Dr. Adrian Wallbank)

This plenary session investigates issues surrounding argumentation, rhetorical strategies and stance in academic writing and discusses perceptions of agency in the light of close, comparative analyses of the discourse and rhetorical features of submitted work. This talk seeks to broaden our understanding of these difficulties by considering what contribution critical theory can make to analyses of PhD submissions and EAP pedagogies for international student writers. My intention is to explore the extent to which academic writers can articulate a stance and an argument given difficulties not only associated with Bakhtin’s well-known theory of heteroglossia (1992), but the fascinating implications of Baudrillard’s conceptions of simulacra and simulation (1981), Docherty’s more recent investigation of complicity (2016), and contemporary debates about obscurity and ‘post-truth’.  In light of these difficulties, I will discuss and illustrate some tried and tested, practical techniques for articulating an argument that you can use in your own writing.


2. Parallel workshops:Workshop 2APicture This: Re-Thinking Academic Writing for Dyslexics (Dr. Adrian Wallbank)


In this workshop, Dr Adrian Wallbank explores some of the main challenges dyslexic academic writers face when writing a thesis and present some of the bespoke visual strategies he has developed for helping dyslexic writers process, structure and articulate their thoughts. Developed by a dyslexic, for dyslexics, the workshop examines how meaningful visual templates, icons and prompts can be used to harness the ‘big picture’ strengths, multidimensional thought processing and visual learning preferences of dyslexics so that you can play to your strengths and write up your PhD with confidence.

Workshop 2B Mind Mapping Your Thesis Using MindGenius (Dr Emily Forster)

People often use mind maps in the initial planning stages of their work. However, with Mindmapping software you can use this technique to help you with all aspects of your writing. This session will introduce you to MindGenius software available in the university. It will show you how can use it to create an overview of your whole thesis, collect the resources you need together in the mind map and how you can use it to help with the writing process. You will also learn how to export your work to Microsoft Word and edit the work you have created into a final piece.

Please click this link to watch a recording of this workshop. Due to copyright issues, this video is only available to DMU students and staff.

3. Round-table discussion and Q&A: Top Tips for writing a good quality PhD thesis (Dr Adrian Wallbank, Dr Emily Forster, Dr Arina Cirstea).

Presenters shared some tips based on their own experience of completing a PhD thesis, as well as their work with doctoral researchers to support their writing development. There was also an opportunity for participants to ask questions.

Guest speaker


Dr Adrian Wallbank is a Teaching Fellow and Programme Leader for Academic Writing and Communication in the Centre for Academic Skills (CEDAS), Royal Holloway, University of London. He will be sharing insights from his most recent publication, Academic Writing and Dyslexia: A Visual Guide to Writing at University (Routledge, January 2018).


Presenter details

Dr Emily Forster is a Lecturer in Learning Development (Centre for Learning and Study Support, DMU). Emily works with students from across the university, in tutorials, drop-ins and workshops, but has particular links to the faculty of Business and Law. She has responsibility within the team for provision for disabled students. Her research interests are developing inclusive teaching in Higher Education and her PhD was on the transitions to adulthood of disabled young people.

Dr Arina Cirstea is a Lecturer in the Centre for Learning and Study Support, (DMU). Arina supports the academic writing development of students at all levels. Her role within the CLaSS team focuses on enhancing the English Language provision for both international and home students. She is also interested in developing multimodal resources to enhance learning. Her PhD explored the intersections between gender, spirituality and urban geography, and she continues to have an interest in strategies to mitigate the impact of textual and spatial power structures on individual development.

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