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ACOM103 Academic English for Health Sciences 1

Teaching organisation

Education Pathways

Unit rationale, description and aim

When pursuing undergraduate studies in health sciences, it is important for students to develop accuracy and appropriacy in their language and in the skills required for academic research and assessment.  This unit is designed to extend students’ learning from ACOM 103 Academic English for Health Sciences 1 and ACOM 105 English Language Communication Skills. It is designed to prepare students for tertiary learning in English in the context of higher education in Australia, and support students’ equitable participation.

The unit offers instruction and practice in the four macro skills (speaking, listening, reading and academic writing) in a range of topics and on issues related to studying at university in the discipline of Health Sciences. Students will extend their understanding and use of academic vocabulary and language structures, further develop the skills required for effective research, and the skills required to extract and synthesise information for academic tasks.

The aim of this unit is to instruct and support students in the development and application of academic language and literacy skills for tertiary studies in 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 - Use effective organisational, teamwork and problem-solving skills in group work (GA7, GA9, GA10)

LO2 - Critically evaluate information based on independent searches of library databases and academic sources (GA4, GA8, GA10)

LO3 - Synthesise information from auditory and written texts, and reference sources accurately (GA4, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Use a range of accurate grammatical, semantic and stylistic features in oral and written expression (GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively

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

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

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively


Topics will include:  

  • Skills Review 
  • Identifying and evaluating academic sources, using a range of library resources and databases
  • Pronunciation and Fluency  
  • Paraphrasing, Summarising and Referencing Skills 
  • Academic Language: Cause and Effect 
  • Critical Thinking and Reading 
  • Language of Evaluation 
  • Essay Structure – Cause & Effect  
  • Listening skills  
  • Academic Language: Hedging and Cohesion  
  • Group Presentation Skills  
  • Describing Graphic Information 
  • Reflective Journal (group work) 
  • Learner Independence 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit takes an active learning approach in order to support students in the exploration of content and the problem solving required in undergraduate studies. Workshop instruction and activities are designed to promote further independence in research, the evaluation of information, the execution of academic tasks, and to enhance academic language proficiency. Collaborative and cooperative learning supports the inquiry and problem-solving objectives and provides a context in which to develop teamwork skills.

Face-to-face mode

This unit is delivered face-to-face on campus in a 3-hour weekly workshop. The workshop format is designed to allow students to explore content and language, and subsequently engage with content and apply skills in a classroom setting. It is aimed at maximising the students’ opportunities for interaction and communication with the tutor and with their peers, and provides practice and feedback on impromptu language use. Face-to-face mode is supported by online resources and activities available on the Learning Management System.

Online Mode

In online mode, a 3-hour synchronous weekly workshop is utilised. The workshop is broken up into sections, combining flipped classroom approaches (individual and group) with tutor-led activities and peer work. This promotes independent learning and online learning activities, but provides a supported online experience for offshore pathway students. The tutor-facilitated components would be dedicated to extending student understanding, more personalised learning and “hands-on” activities. The aim is to maximise the students’ opportunities for interaction and communication with the tutor and with their peers, and provides practice and feedback on impromptu language use.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment will be equitable for students undertaking either face-to-face or online classes. 

Assessments are scaffolded or staged with learning activities, and build on skills acquired in ACOM103 in semester one. The tasks are designed to assess students’ understanding and application of academic language and conventions, and their accuracy and clarity of expression, and mirror the types of assessment they will be required to complete in their undergraduate studies in Health Sciences.  

The scheduling of the essay and presentation have been swapped, with the group presentation scheduled first. This is based on student and staff feedback on the continued need and time required to support the development of formal academic writing. 

In order to properly assess proficiency of language and academic skills, the inclusion of an exam is necessary. Successful achievement of the learning outcomes indicates that students have the academic and language skills required to commence their undergraduate studies. They must be able to demonstrate and apply these skills independently and in a timed and impromptu context. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group Presentation 

Group work is one type of assessment students will need to undertake in their tertiary studies. This assessment task requires students to work as a part of a group to research and organise information, and assesses their ability to work as a team and to communicate clearly and appropriately in an academic context.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Essay (cause and effect) 

The essay genre is a common assessment type in undergraduate programs. This task allows students to demonstrate independence in their research, and their ability to evaluate, organise and synthesise information in a written context. Students will also be assessed on their ability to write clearly and accurately using formal academic language and conventions. The cause and effect structure has been chosen because of its relevance to health-related communication and academic tasks.  


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA8, GA9, GA10

Final Examination

The exam is designed for students to demonstrate their level of academic literacy and language proficiency in a real-time setting, and to assess their academic preparedness for undergraduate studies in Health Sciences. Students will be assessed on their ability to respond appropriately and accurately to a range academic listening,  reading and writing tasks. 


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Academic Skills Unit. Accessed through Canvas: Unit: Academic Skills Unit ( 

Available online: ACU study guide: Skills for success (revised 2021). 

Bailey, S. (2018). Academic writing: A handbook for international students (5th ed.). Routledge. 

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

deChazal, E., & McCarter, S. (2012). Oxford EAP. Upper intermediate B2. Oxford University Press. 

Oshima, A., & Hogue, A. (2017). Longman academic writing series 4: Essays (5th ed.). Pearson Education. 

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