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Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is designed to prepare you with the academic language and skills needed for university study. The unit offers instruction and practice in the four macro skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing), within a range of topics and issues related to study at university in the discipline of Health Sciences. Academic vocabulary and language structures will be explored and you will receive instruction and guidance on the skills required to carry out academic tasks, such as researching and referencing. The aim of this unit is to instruct and support you in your understanding and application of academic conventions, and in developing the academic language and literacy required for undergraduate studies in the Health Sciences.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Differentiate between informal language and formal academic language structures and vocabulary. [GA9] 

LO2 - Recognise the structure and purpose of various writing genres, and identify different viewpoints.[GA8] 

LO3 - Predict, identify and record information relevant or appropriate to a specific task. [GA8] 

LO4 - Conduct guided research and reference appropriate academic sources using library resources and databases. [GA8] 

LO5 - Communicate academic content and ideas demonstrating clear oral expression. [GA9] 

LO6 - Demonstrate accuracy in simple academic writing by applying the grammar, vocabulary and stylistic features of formal written expression. [GA9] 

Graduate attributes

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 


  • Introduction to the academic learning community 
  • Academic language skills and styles 
  • Introduction to research skills and evaluating sources 
  • Academic vocabulary  
  • Sentence structure 
  • Essay structure and content 
  • Writing paragraphs 
  • Introduction to referencing: citations and reference lists 
  • Reading and understanding academic texts  
  • Identifying points of view 
  • Summarising and paraphrasing  
  • Note-taking: listening and reading 
  • Common language difficulties 
  • The language of presentations 
  • Oral communication skills 
  • Exam taking skills and strategies 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit takes an active learning and inquiry-based approach in order to encourage analytical thinking and the ability to identify academic conventions and language patterns and their functions. In addition, this approach promotes independent learning and skills development, and students may then apply the acquired knowledge and skills to their own academic work. Facilitated peer learning also assists skills development, and exposes students to a variety of opinions and styles, and supports them on their path to independence in further studies.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks are scaffolded (or staged) in order to support students in their understanding and application of the academic language skills and conventions required in a university setting. The tasks are designed to build on knowledge and skills from workshop activities and the previous assessment task, and for students to demonstrate their level of proficiency in reading, speaking, listening and writing in a health sciences context. 


The presentation is scheduled first and designed to provide scaffolding for the research, content, language structures and organisation of information required in the essay (Assessment 2). The essay assessment requires students to further develop the ideas from the presentation, and to demonstrate their ability to express content in a formal essay structure utilising the appropriate register and accuracy of language required for written expression in academic contexts. The final exam (Assessment 3) provides a means by which to assess the students’ language and academic skills under exam conditions. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Presentation (individual) 

The Presentation requires students to present one advantage and one disadvantage they are proposing to include in their essay assessment task (Assessment 2). This provides scaffolding for the essay and early feedback on content, and on research and referencing skills.. Students must also demonstrate their ability to clearly and accurately explain content and concepts using appropriate language and oral communication skills. 


LO1,LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA8, GA9 

Essay ( advantages and disadvantages) 

The essay genre is a common assessment type in undergraduate studies. This task allows students to demonstrate their understanding of essay structure, basic research and referencing skills, and supports students in the development of the language accuracy required in written work. The advantages-disadvantages genre has been chosen as it allows students to identify and evaluate different perspectives within a specific structure. 


LO1, LO2 LO3, LO4,LO6 

GA8, GA9


(Includes listening, reading and writing). 

The exam is designed for students to demonstrate their level of language proficiency and academic literacy in a real time setting. Students will be assessed on their ability to respond appropriately and accurately to academic tasks and apply skills covered in the unit and required for language proficiency and further studies in the discipline of Health Sciences. 


LO3, LO6 

GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Academic Skills Unit. (2017). ACU study guide: Skills for success (3rd revised ed.). North Sydney: Australian Catholic University.  

Bailey, S. (2015). Academic writing: A handbook for international students (4th ed.). London: Routledge. 

Brick, J., Herke, M., & Wong, D. (2016). Academic culture: A student’s guide to studying at university (3rd.). Melbourne: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Hewings, M. (2007). English pronunciation in use. Advanced. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. 

Oshima, A., & Hogue, A. (2014). Longman Academic Writing Series 4: Paragraphs to Essays. (5th ed.). New York: Pearson Education 

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