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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2019/2020

Critical Reading and Writing Skills

Type: Compulsory course (Philology)
Area of studies: Philology
When: 2 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: distance learning
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus


This is a two-module course which develops and refines academic English skills of those students who specialize in Arts and Humanities, namely, philology. By combining the basics of academic style, punctuation, and grammar with exploratory reading and writing, this course enables students to gain an awareness and understanding of the key features of writing about their research. By the end of the course, students will be able to write a good academic essay in MLA style. Pre-requisites: to fulfill the requirements of the course students need to have a good command of written and spoken English (required CEFR language proficiency level is from upper-intermediate (B2) to advanced (C1)).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • to introduce students to the basic principles of Critical Reading and Academic Writing and to raise their linguistic awareness, comparing conventions in Russian and English writing
  • to prepare students for further academic activities in English as part of their HSE bachelor’s programme (i.e., disciplines in English, Academic English course in their final year of bachelor’s studies, MOOCs etc.) and in a wider English-speaking academic environment
  • to develop and practise students’ skills in the areas of academic essay writing, essay organization, citations, and research
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • know the basic principles of English Academic Writing and the most important differences in-between Russian and English writing conventions
  • be able to engage in further academic activities in English
  • develop research and essay writing skills
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Course introduction.
    Why should one study Academic Writing? Recognizing one’s audience. Free writing assignment.
  • Critical reading as a precursor to critical writing.
    Note-taking, annotating, finding key points, understanding the context, identifying logical structures in argument within every paragraph and within the whole text. Organizing one’s glossary of terms.
  • What is a paragraph?
    Paragraph structure. Supporting one’s statements: evidence, what it is, why it is important, and how to provide it. Unity and coherence. Repetition of key nouns, key noun substitutes, consistent pronouns, logical order. Journal writing.
  • Style and register.
    Expressive means: morphological, lexical, syntactical. Academic discourse. Caution.
  • What is a critical review?
    Its functions, typical structure, and possible focus questions. Evaluating points of view.
  • Academic writing skills: sentence-level grammar.
    Types of sentences: simple, compound, and complex. Connecting words and transition signals. Punctuation.
  • Single-blind peer reviewing (students’ critical reviews).
    Single-blind peer reviewing (students’ critical reviews).
  • Using parallel structures and fixing sentence problems.
    Typical problems: sentence fragments, choppy and stringy sentences, run-on sentences and comma splices.
  • Logic and relevance. Common knowledge and plagiarism.
    Generic writing skills: paraphrasing and summarizing. Integrating quotations. Reporting verbs and phrases. Using (online) sources.
  • Explication.
    Reading in slow motion. Explication as argument.
  • Referencing systems. Documenting sources in MLA style.
    MLA in-text citations. MLA list of works cited. MLA manuscript format.
  • Single-blind peer reviewing (students’ explications).
    Single-blind peer reviewing (students’ explications).
  • What is an analysis essay?
    Essay structure. Developing an argument and drafting a working thesis statement. Writing a formal essay outline. From thesis to introduction. The purpose of introduction and how to achieve it. Types of introduction. Drafting the main body of the essay. Writing an effective conclusion.
  • Single-blind peer reviewing (students’ literary analysis essays).
    Single-blind peer reviewing (students’ literary analysis essays).
  • Editing the essay: revision and proofreading.
    From process to product: finalizing and polishing the essay.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Ungraded written assignments (free writing, exercises, peer reviews etc.)
  • non-blocking Quizzes
  • non-blocking Critical Review
  • non-blocking Explication
  • blocking Written Examination
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.15 * Critical Review + 0.2 * Explication + 0.1 * Quizzes + 0.29 * Ungraded written assignments (free writing, exercises, peer reviews etc.) + 0.26 * Written Examination


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bailey, S. (2017). Academic Writing : A Handbook for International Students (Vol. Fifth edition). London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1650435
  • Murray, N. (2012). Writing Essays in English Language and Linguistics : Principles, Tips and Strategies for Undergraduates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=438550

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • MacDonald, S. (2010). Professional Academic Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Vol. Paperback ed). Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=367965
  • Murray, R., & Moore, S. (2006). The Handbook of Academic Writing : A Fresh Approach. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=234234