Introduction to Postgraduate Academic Skills

Ideal for those seeking to bridge the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate study - this course provides a pathway on to our full MA for those students who do not have an existing degree. We will introduce you to the advanced academic skills required at Master's level, allowing you to build up your knowledge of academic reading, researching, referencing and writing as you proceed.

Open enrolment - start any time!


  • Fully online, asynchronous learning
  • Ideal for those seeking to bridge the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate study
  • Provides a pathway on to our full MA for those students who do not have an existing degree
  • 3-month duration (although it is possible to complete the course sooner)
  • Accredited by The Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL)
  • Upon successful completion, you will be eligible to apply for our full MA course
  • You will also receive an official ITOL-accredited certificate entitled ‘Introduction to Postgraduate Academic Skills’


This course is ideal for those seeking to bridge the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate study.

We will introduce you to the advanced academic skills required at Master's level, allowing you to build up your knowledge of  academic reading, researching, referencing and writing as you proceed.

This course is a precursor to our MA Voice Pedagogy - the cost is deducted from the fees should you continue on to the full MA.

The course is open to everybody!



If you're interested in our Introduction to Postgraduate Academic Skills, please register your interest using the form at the bottom of this page and we'll send you a prospectus.

Course Content

Studying at Master’s level is more intense than at undergraduate level.You should expect to be guided less and to think more for yourself, taking greater responsibility for planning and managing your time and having more control over your own studies.

To prepare you for the step up in intensity, this course offers a comprehensive introduction to all of the academic skills required when studying for your Master’s. You will develop search strategies for academic literature using online libraries and databases; learn how to read academic journal articles; and build up your knowledge of academic citation and referencing using the Harvard style.

You will experiment with tools to aid your learning, such as document management systems (e.g. Mendeley, Zotero) and academic stylistic devices. You will explore different styles of academic writing, as well as reflective theory and frameworks. There will be specific written tasks to actively develop and further your skills.

In addition to all of the above, our ‘Preparing for Academic Writing’ module in particular will also introduce you to the concept of academic integrity (or academic good practice), enhancing your knowledge of the importance of plagiarism, collusion and other examples of academic malpractice. Alongside this, you will build your academic skills and learn how to write academically.




  • The aim of the course
  • The learning outcomes of the course
  • The difference between postgraduate and undergraduate study
  • Intensity, workload and expectations
  • Characteristics of a Master's degree

Preparing for Academic Writing

  • Academic integrity, plagiarism and attribution: What is academic integrity?
  • What do we mean by academic good practice?
  • Assignments and academic integrity
  • Plagiarism: Claiming credit for someone else's work
  • Someone else completes your work
  • Making up content in your assignment
  • Reusing your own work
  • Collusion: Working with others on individual assessments
  • Citation and referencing: Harvard

Searching and Storing Journal Articles

  • Beginning your search journey
  • Should I use Google Scholar as a search engine?
  • Our reading lists
  • Accessing the university library
  • Accessing e-books at the University of Essex
  • Accessing journals
  • Advanced searches
  • Document management systems
  • Introduction to Mendeley and Zotero

Evaluating Evidence

  • Credibility of sources: Is it CRAAP?
  • The Hierarchy of Evidence
  • A closer look at the pyramid
  • How does this quality criteria apply to you?

How to Read an Academic Article

  • Getting started
  • Decision-making flowchart

Building Skills in Academic Writing: Part 1

  • About this section
  • Importance of attribution and attribution practices
  • PDF version
  • Article 1 and Article 2 (please read)
  • Group discussion: Let's discuss the articles
  • Video 2
  • Group discussion: Discussion 2
  • Video 3
  • PDF version
  • Compare and contrast two articles
  • Now contrast Musgrave with Shewell
  • Example of an opinion piece
  • The difference between descriptive and analytical writing
  • Lecture 1: Music Performance Anxiety – Definitions and Measurements
  • Lecture 2: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Causes
  • Time to Write

Preparing for Academic Writing: Part 2

  • About this section
  • What is reflection?
  • Reflective Practice article
  • Useful models: Dewey's Five Step Model, Kolb (1975), Schon's Popular Model, Brookfield's Critical Lenses
  • How to write reflectively
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of reflective writing
  • Time to Write

Course Schedule

  • To be certificated, you will need to have completed the course within three months from starting.
  • We are aware that people have different time commitments, and we, therefore, allow for open enrolment enabling you to tailor the course around your needs.


To complete the course, the essay is assessed and graded at level 7. Upon passing, you will be eligible to apply for our MA course.

The course fee will be deducted from the total cost of the MA, and the graded essay can be submitted formally as part of the MA.

The fee for this course is £500 (VAT inclusive).

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If you would like to learn more about the course please complete the form below or email us at

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Our Students


"I was delighted to discover such an inclusive course which was the perfect pathway to enable me to enter onto a degree pathway.

It also was the perfect opportunity to ease myself back into studying after such a long time and build up my academic skills to the level required."

- Carla Higgins

"Attending this course was a very valuable experience that helped me realise the areas of my knowledge that I needed to improve. It also helped me to reorganise knowledge and skills that I believe I had previously achieved. During the course I never felt neglected. On the contrary, I could see how much all the staff of Voice Study Centre that I interacted with were taking care of me.”

- Francesco Mecorio

"It really wouldn't be overly dramatic to say that this course has been a life-changing experience for me. Providing a unique opportunity for those who would be exempt from studying at MA level, this course is like a gift.
I gained the tools I needed to jump into the world of academia and I found the resources invaluable to my academic and career progression. For anyone feeling that going straight to MA is a stretch, or for those who never had the opportunity to discover their academic capabilities I could not recommend this course highly enough. I cannot wait to walk with Voice Study Centre through the next three years of study and beyond!"

- Nicki Rogers