The development, practice and assessment of relevant academic skills should be an essential feature of all courses, and at all levels. There should be a distinct focus on introducing level four students to the essential academic skills, with all students being expected to demonstrate the University's learning outcomes for Academic Skills Development by the completion of their level four studies.
At higher levels of provision, course teams will continue to promote and enable students' further academic skills development as is appropriate to the subject area. In particular, students will have opportunities to develop and gain feedback on their critical thinking skills, and on their academic writing and communication skills in preparation for their final year dissertation or project.
As a team, identify the academic skills that you would expect students graduating from the programme to have gained a proficiency in and employed within assessment or learning activities. Use the content on this page to support this activity. For Undergraduate programmes, map the skills to the levels of study within the programme, exploring how they are expected to develop through each level of study (consider the levels of competence students will exhibit at the end of each level).
Using the course storyboard your team have developed, identify where each of the skills identified in part one above will first be required by the students, where students will get opportunities to practice and gain feedback on their use of each skill, and where their competence in each skill might be assessed. In general each course should seek to:
The production of written English is an essential transferrable skill for all our students, as signposted in our entry requirements. However, it is only one of a number of transferable skills that students are able to develop and demonstrate through their studies. The ability to demonstrate fluent and effective written English skills is valued higher in some subjects than others, and the refinement of other transferable skills is often seen as of more value for many subjects.
In courses where students are mainly assessed through written submissions, there is a danger that a student with less developed written English skills will be repeatedly marked down regardless of their achievement in other aspects of their learning. Students with characteristics or backgrounds that make the development of written English skills a significant challenge could thus be disadvantaged when it comes to gaining higher marks and overall classifications. Even for those for whom there are no specific barriers to developing their written English skills during their studies, requiring them to do so alongside the other course learning will add to their study load and potentially place them at a disadvantage compared to their peers.
In developing courses, teams need to consider how the development and assessment of English skills will be integrated into the curriculum. While the focus can often fall on developing students’ writing skills, it is important that skills in academic reading and comprehension, and the effective understanding of subject specific terminology and written communication is included in the curriculum. In developing these aspects of their courses, teams need to consider how they will ensure that no students are disadvantaged unfairly by the approaches adopted.
For the purpose of the discussion here, when we refer to written English skills we refer to students’ abilities to employ English to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences . Such abilities would be expected to enable students to demonstrate their abilities to devise and sustain arguments, and to describe and comment upon particular aspects of their discipline. Key elements of written English skills can be classified into two distinct groups: functional skills including the ability to construct sentences, spell correctly, and adhere to grammatical conventions; and higher skills: employing appropriate terminology, synthesising information effectively, and effectively conveying argument and discussion logically through the structuring of written work. While expectations for the good functional skill usage is generally common to all subject areas, there tends to be more variation in expectations on what constituted good higher skill usage within different subject areas.
In order to support course teams in these considerations, we set out below a set of principles and accompanying guidance.
Students embarking on a course with less well developed skills in the use of written English, such as those for whom English is not their first language, will not be disadvantaged in comparison to their peers whose written English skills are already well developed.
A typical cohort of students on any programme will exhibit a range of abilities in each of the transferable/generic skills they will be expected to employ through their studies. It is unreasonable for us to require all students to attain the same level of written English skills without providing means by which this might realistically be achieved within the course delivery.
Most courses will need to integrate teaching and learning activity into their course delivery content to support students to develop and refine the higher writing skills that are required, and are likely to work with Learning Services staff in enabling students to seek further support and guidance to enable students to develop both higher and functional writing skills. Where the development of higher written English skills is an integral element of the course’s learning outcomes, the delivery and assessment of these needs to be planned carefully to ensure students have sufficient opportunity to learn, practice and receive developmental feedback on their progress before they are required to deploy them within substantial summative assessment activities.
While all courses will require students to employ written English effectively, there is great variety in the level of numerical skills that will be required. For some courses there will be a significant requirement for numerical proficiency and knowledge, and this will need to be recognised within the course's entry requirements - the course team will need to take care to bridge student's knowledge and skill level between that encapsulated in the entry requirements and that required for students to engage with the course's learning activity and assessment. For other courses there will be much less requirements for numerical proficiency within the curriculum. However, it is unlikely that any course will not need to require students to engage with numerical skills to some extent:
The provision of numerical skills within courses can be supported through the University's academic skills advisors team.
While we expect all students to demonstrate proficiency in expressing themselves academically (see the Academic Voice section), it is also important that they have opportunities to develop and practice communication in other voices and formats. Course teams are encouraged to consider the following aspects of communication skills, exploring the extent to which each should be integrated into their curriculum, and how this might be done in a progressive and supportive manner:
All courses shouid integrate opportunities for students to develop both generic and subject relevant technical academic skills. Depending of the subject area, these might include:
For Apprenticeship courses, all learners are required to demonstrate progress in both English and maths (usually collectively termed 'functional skills') through their studies. Ofsted like to include Information Technology (Digital Skills) amongst Functional Skills, but this is not a requirement for a level 2 qualification.