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The University of Southampton

PRES0016 Academic Writing (Pre-sessional LLM)

Module Overview

The LLM Pre-sessional academic writing module is part of an integrated programme designed to enable you to learn and practise the academic writing skills you will need to succeed in your future LLM degree. The module is intended to give you a basic understanding of how to research, understand, plan and structure answers to the different types of law essays, both as coursework and in the context of examinations. The module will provide practical examples of essay titles and worked answers to essay titles. It will focus on both style and accuracy in writing and on the critical selection and organisation of content. This module is non-credit bearing and forms part of the Pre-sessional LLM Programme in which you study academic speaking, academic listening, academic reading and academic writing. You also develop your independent learning skills through Independent Study sessions, and learn about online resources for law, study skills and language development. The writing module is taught in conjunction with the reading module as these skills often overlap; for example, your knowledge of how to write coherent paragraphs will be an important tool when reading and processing information from your sources. As a result, you will be expected to practise a range of skills in the same class. The writing module follows the University of Southampton Pre-sessional LLM Programme Reading and Writing syllabus.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Plan and structure your writing appropriately for different tasks including ‘Discuss’ and ‘Problem’ question essays
  • Paraphrase, summarise, synthesise and use quotations to reference correctly from your sources
  • Use both legal and general academic language appropriately and effectively in written work
  • Produce essays with appropriate legal content and reasoning
  • Employ critical writing strategies to convey your evaluation of information and ideas obtained from your sources
  • Use learning strategies to continue to build grammatical accuracy and vocabulary range


A. DEVELOPING A CLEAR AND COHESIVE ESSAY STRUCTURE 1. Using titles, outlines and topic development strategies effectively when planning. 2. Providing a clear introduction and conclusion in the ‘Discuss’ essay. 3. Dividing body paragraphs appropriately and, in the case of the ‘Problem ’ question, using subheadings to structure your writing. 4. Ensuring points are logically ordered, suitably linked and well-supported at paragraph and essay level. 5. Meeting assignment word counts. B. USING OUTSIDE SOURCES EFFECTIVELY IN ESSAYS 1. Producing clear, distinct and appropriately balanced use of quotation, paraphrase, summary and synthesis in written work. 2. Incorporating Oscola in-text references accurately and providing a corresponding reference list in Oscola format. 3. Balancing effective source use with original input. 4. Avoiding plagiarism and ensuring compliance with University Academic Integrity policy. C. PRODUCING ESSAYS WITH APPROPRIATE CONTENT 1. Ensuring all parts of the task are covered. 2. Providing relevant factual information/ data commentary and description where necessary. 3. Writing critically to support and strengthen an argument, using appropriate legal content and reasoning. 4. Using an effective analytical rather than descriptive approach. 5. Showing evidence of own voice and original insight. D. USING ACADEMIC LANGUAGE APPROPRIATELY 1. Ability to explore topic fully and use accurate vocabulary choice, both legal and general. 2. Ensuring style and register are appropriate, academic and consistent. 3. Incorporating appropriate synonym, word order and word form changes in paraphrases or summaries. 4. Conveying meaning effectively. E. DEVELOPING GRAMMATICAL ACCURACY AND RANGE 1. Using punctuation accurately and consistently. 2. Showing evidence of range of appropriate simple and complex structures and clauses. 3. Ensuring meaning is not impeded by grammatical issues. 4. Adopting beneficial proof reading strategies to check for common errors (sentence fragment/ pronoun use/ S-V agreement etc).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

You will experience a wide variety of teaching and learning methods including: full class teaching; individual, pair and group work in class; set tasks to be completed outside class and self-directed independent study. You will have weekly tutorials with your class tutor to discuss your progress and will learn how to access the University’s law resources, both in libraries and online.

Independent Study5
Total study time12

Resources & Reading list

University of Manchester – Academic Phrasebank (pages for introducing work, referring to the literature, being critical, describing methods, reporting results, discussing findings, writing conclusions, general functions).

R R Jordan (1999). Academic Writing Course. 

A Gillett, A Hammond and M Martala (2009). Successful Academic Writing (Inside Track Series).. 

LLAS webpage for exam preparation [online]..

University of Portsmouth [online]..

J Godfrey (2013b). The Student Phrase Book: Vocabulary for writing at university. 

C Sowton (2012). 50 Steps to Improving your Academic Writing: Study Book. 

N Caplan (2012). Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers. 

J Godfrey (2013a). How to Use Your Reading in Your Essays. 

A Oshima and A Hogue (2006). Writing Academic English. 

J McCormack and J Slaght (2012). Extended Writing and Research Skills Course Book. 

S Cottrell (2011). Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument. 

S Bailey (2011). Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. 

A McNair and F Gooch (2013). Language for Study Level 3. 

C Fletcher (2013). Skills for Study Level 3. 

J Swales and C Feak (2004). Academic Writing for Graduate Students. 

R Pears and G Shield (2013). Cite them Right. 

UEfAP website (Andy Gillet) [online]..

Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) [online]..

D Hopkins and P Cullen (2007). Grammar for IELTS with Answers. 

S Bailey (2011). Academic Writing for International Students of Business.. 

University of Southampton Library -Harvard Guide.

A Pallant (2012). English for Academic Study: Writing Course Book. 

University of Nottingham AWL highlighter [online]..

Academic Writing in English (AWE) Finnish Virtual Language Centre.





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 50%
Examination 50%
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