Academic Writing Day for Postgraduate Researchers: Develop your confidence as a writer

Academic Writing Day for Postgraduate Researchers: Develop your confidence as a writer

This Academic Writing Day, held on 14 February 2018, provided participants with  a theoretical and practical overview of alternative techniques that can enhance various stages of thesis writing process, from pre-writing to drafting and editing.  The event opened with a talk from our guest speaker, dr. Adrian Wallbank (the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS) at Royal Holloway, University of London), including insights from his most recent volume, Academic Writing and Dyslexia: A Visual Guide to Writing at University (2018).

The plenary was followed by two hands-on workshops, packed full of practical tips. The event closed with a round-table discussion in which presenters answered questions based on their experience of completing a PhD thesis as well as providing support to PhD researchers.


Sessions at a glance

Adrian Wallbank’s plenary session, Argument, Agency and Originality: Exploring your Academic ‘Voice’ investigated issues surrounding argumentation, rhetorical strategies and stance in academic writing and discussed perceptions of agency in the light of close, comparative analyses of the discourse and rhetorical features of submitted work. In his workshop, Picture This: Re-Thinking Academic Writing for Dyslexics, Adrian went on to explore 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. Emily Forster’s session Mind mapping your thesis using MindGenius introduced participants to how mind mapping software can be used to create an overview of a whole thesis, store resources as well as a tool in the writing process.


Participant feedback

The event, described by a participant as a ‘powerful, rich, relevant conference delivered in an engaging style’, was initially fully booked (50 registrations), and was attended by 35 postgraduate students and several members of staff with an interest in this topic. The majority of participants who returned a feedback form rated the event as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’, with significant learning points. For example, one participant noted: ‘As a dyslexic student, I found the session so informative. It was great to hear from an academic who thinks the same way as me’. Another participant reflected that in the wake of the event, they became aware ‘that dyslexia is not a problem but a type of thinking’. The practical strategies of using MindMapping software introduced in one of the workshops have also been mentioned as useful in the development of research.


The event has been recorded using DMU Replay technology. Videos and links to further resources are available on the event page.

The Mentors Guide to …Managing Pressure

The Mentors Guide to …Managing Pressure

CLaSS Lecturer Beverley Hancock-Smith provides and overview of this session as well as future developments related to this topic.


Twenty staff mentors and students took part in our inaugural “The Mentors’ Guide to….” Session on Tuesday 10th April 2018.

With overwhelmingly positive feedback from both staff and students, the session will now become a regular feature in our Library and Learning Services (LLS) Open Programme Workshops.

The session

With exam season upon us and final assessment dates looming, the summer term can be a particularly stressful time for students.

As part of the Healthy dmYou initiative, students were offered the chance to gain valuable advice and guidance about managing pressure and coping with stressful situations from our Dare to Be mentors.

Linking in with the Exam Success open programme workshops, which took place in the Library, our Dare to Be Mentors shared their experiences and offered valuable advice and guidance..

Dare to Be Mentors

Our eight mentors were existing DMU staff members, alumni and honourands. Between them, they had a wealth of experience and ideas to share. We were delighted that Paul Morrison, Education Segment Lead for Hewlett Packard, was one of the mentors taking part in this session.

Students had the chance to speak with mentors in whole group and small group discussions, gaining advice, guidance and practical solutions to managing pressure and stress ahead of exam season.


The idea to offer group mentoring sessions throughout the year came directly from our Dare to Be student mentees. Dare to Be is a mentoring scheme open to all DMU students. It aims to improve student confidence, self-belief and motivation.

As part of mentee training, many students took the opportunity to attend one of our group mentoring sessions to gain experience of the mentoring relationship first hand.

Feedback from these sessions was overwhelmingly positive. So much so, that some students suggested we run group mentoring throughout the year and not just as part of Dare to Be training… so we did!

A lasting legacy

Video clips of the advice given by mentors on a wide range of topics will shortly be made available on the Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS) website.

Upcoming sessions

“The Mentors’ Guide to…” will run during LLS Open Programme weeks in the Library. They will be themed to complement the suite of workshops already on offer during the week.

For further details on the Open Programme Workshops and “The Mentors’ Guide to…” sessions, visit the CLaSS website.

LLS Dissertation Conference 2018

LLS Dissertation Conference 2018

28 February 2018


The annual LLS Dissertation conference,  ‘Get Your Dissertation or Extended Report Sorted!’, took place this year on 28 February. CLaSS internal placement student, Hasan Ates, attended the event in his dual capacity as a member of the organising team, on the one hand, and as a student interested in developing his dissertation writing skills, on the other. His reflections are presented below.

Students and staff alike had a great time attending the Dissertation Conference on Wednesday, with over 90% of attending students rating the event as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’! They enjoyed the multiple workshops hosted that day as well as the Keynote speech by Jane Adams and the ‘Ask the Marker’ Panel Q&A.

The day started off well! Lecturers from Library and Learning Services (LLS) held workshops which were essential for any student who wants to do well in their dissertation, final year project, or extended report. Over half of the students who offered us feedback attended the ‘Planning and Structuring your dissertation or final year project’ workshop and most described it as ‘Good’ or ‘Very good’ and stated that the demonstrations were great!

The Director of LLS, David Parkes, welcomed participants and introduced the keynote speaker, Royal Literary Fund Fellow Jane Adams. He also signposted the services LLS offers to students.

Jane Adams, RLF Fellow at DMU

Jane Adams then gave us a wonderful talk about how it feels to write a dissertation or any other extensive piece of work. She gave us tips about what we should do to move forward with our writing. She gave us advice such as taking short regular breaks in-between writing sessions as well as taking longer breaks for a day or two before continuing with your work. Jane demonstrated the need for quality writing time instead of quantity. You can find the link to Jane’s talk here, or click this link to take you to David Parkes’ mind map of Jane’s talk.

Ask the Marker Panel

Following Jane’s talk, we had our annual ‘Ask the Marker’ Panel session. This is the part of the day students said that they had enjoyed the most! We had 5 lecturers and dissertation markers on a panel answering questions by the audience. Students were able to ask any question they wanted to and were able to gain a valuable insight into the thought process of a Marker. Many students rated this session as ‘Excellent’ and stated that they had learnt new ideas and will use them in the future. Click here for the link to the recording of the Panel.

We ended our day with a final batch of parallel workshops which will help students develop their skills for completing their dissertation, final year project, or extended report. 92% of the students who attended ‘How to sound ‘critical’ in your writing’ had positive feedback of the session and one student noted that the session was ‘Clear, concise and straightforward’.