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CAES9820 Academic English for Science Students

Coordinator: Simon BOYNTON

Course Description:

This 6-credit English-in-the-Discipline course aims to develop students’ professional and technical communication skills for disciplinary studies in the sciences. There are three main components in the course: 1) Writing a popular science article 2) An oral presentation and 3) Independent language learning. Students will learn rhetorical skills for presenting and explaining scientific concepts to a cross-disciplinary and non-specialist audience in both written and spoken communication. Students will also be given an opportunity to design a personalised language learning plan, carry out the plan and reflect on their own independent language learning experience.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify and make use of the key characteristics of writing for a non-specialist audience, e.g. explaining complex ideas, stance, strength of claims, showing the credibility of the researcher
  • Write a popular science article for a non-specialist audience based on their disciplinary knowledge
  • Identify and make use of key characteristics of an academic oral presentation for a cross-disciplinary audience e.g. explaining complex ideas, effective use of voice to convey meaning, effective use of visual elements, paralinguistic features
  • Deliver an academic oral presentation appropriate for a cross-disciplinary audience
  • Plan, carry out, and reflect on a self-study programme to focus on language learning needs


  • Students are asked to select a science topic and do some background research on their topic. They are then asked to write a topic proposal for their topic which they will later write up in a popular science article.
  • Students are asked to write a popular science article on their chosen topic. Students are expected to use a range of rhetorical features of popular science articles in order to engage with the target audience. These features will be covered in the course.
  • Students are asked to deliver a 5-minute oral presentation on their popular science topic. Students will need to select key information from their popular science article and decide how to present this. They should use a range of rhetorical features of oral presentations in order to engage with the target audience such as effective use of visuals and voice. These features will be covered in the course.
  • Students engage in a Self-Access Language Learning (SALL) project. They are challenged to analyse their own language needs and develop corresponding goals and strategies. They are asked to develop a self-study programme to address their language needs, carry out this plan, and reflect on the experience in the form of a written reflection. Students are encouraged to reflect on and share their SALL experiences in class at various stages of the course.

Assessment Methods:

(with breakdown of percentage weighting of the various methods)

  • Other genres of writing (55%)
  • Oral presentations (25%)
  • Independent learning work (20%)