Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

Academic communication skills are at the core of all university study in Australia. They are the key to success in a university environment.

This unit is designed to develop the communication skills needed for successful study in ACU degree programs. The unit offers practice in four macro skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and dedicated study of academic language, within the context of a range of topics and issues relating to study at university. This unit will develop students’ understanding of the university environment. Students will develop strategies to assist them in becoming active learners within the university community. The aim of this unit is to instruct and support students in their understanding and use of academic language and conventions, and to develop the skills required for effective communication in their further study.

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 - Describe individual study goals and develop strategies to achieve them (GA4, GA9)

LO2 - Communicate concepts using spoken academic language, both individually and as a member of a group (GA7, GA9, GA10)

LO3 - Demonstrate academic listening and reading strategies to analyse a range of spoken and written texts (GA4) 

LO4 - Construct coherent, medium length written academic texts relating to university study (GA4, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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:

  •         Introduction to university settings, policies, and systems.
  •         Individual study plans that assist in developing students’ understanding of the expectations of university study. The study plans will also identify individual areas of concern from the student and teacher perspectives and outline specific strategies to improve these areas.
  •         Understanding the language of university study. This will include academic terminology, and language features such as aspect, nominalisation and hedging.
  •         Understanding the language and structure of academic writing at the paragraph and short text level. This will include topic sentences, supporting sentences, cohesive devices and discipline specific styles.
  •         Communicating effectively in a range of speaking contexts at university.
  •         Language and communicative strategies to succeed in group projects and assignments.
  •         Poster presentation skills.
  •         Strategies to assist in the understanding of reading and listening material used in the other Term 1 units.
  •         Test-taking strategies. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Multi-mode. 5 hours per week on campus and 5 hours per week of facilitated learning based on individual study plans to be completed in class or online. 

Duration: 10-week Term

This unit facilitates an active and multi-modal approach to learning. Workshops include expert input, but are student focused and collaborative, and are designed to maximize opportunities for students to interact within the academic community well as with each other. Students are required to actively participate in workshops and assigned learning activities to achieve the learning outcomes. Students will be encouraged to build on previous learning experiences in order to identify and develop areas for growth. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks are scaffolded and in part designed to prepare students for the type of assessments encountered in an undergraduate university setting. The tasks are designed to assess students’ understanding of academic communication in a range of university contexts and their readiness to develop to more complex aspects of Academic Communication Skills in the second term.

The Individual Study Plan is to assist both students and teachers to develop understanding of the students’ expectations of university study and to provide students with an opportunity to begin to work through barriers to success. Teachers will assist in developing plans that address the specific needs and concerns of each student.

The paired poster presentation provides the students with an opportunity to work together to meet goals. Students will be guided through the process and taught strategies to assist with meeting expectations of developing an academic presentation and how to effectively navigate group assessment tasks.

The final examination allows for assessment of students’ overall proficiency before moving on to the next level (Academic Communication Skills 2). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Individual Study Plan

Students will identify and describe the goals and strategies for achieving academic success in Foundation Studies and in their degree program. 




Paired Poster Presentations

Group work is a common assessment task in undergraduate programs. This task requires students to work together in pairs to present basic a common problem and solutions clearly and in academic style. 


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA7, GA9, GA10


(Reading, Listening, Writing – timed short texts)

The exam is designed for students to demonstrate their understanding of writing, reading, and listening skills and strategies taught in the unit and to assess preparedness for progression to Academic -Communication Skills 2. Students will be assessed on their ability to respond to and construct a medium length text.


LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA9

Representative texts and references

Australian Catholic University. (n.d.). Academic Skills Unit.

Brick, J., Herke, M., Wong, D., & Davies, L. (2016). Academic Culture: A student's guide to studying at university. South Yarra, Vic: Palgrave Macmillan

Vicary, A. (2014). Grammar for writing. Reading, UK: Garnet Publishing.


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