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Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Courses in Academic English

To help you improve your skills in communicating about your research in English, the Graduate School has an in-house Academic English Lecturer.

About the courses

The courses are compact, interactive workshops, aimed strictly at providing help with English for research purposes. They are not intended to replace the much longer writing and presentation courses offered in the various local and national research schools, or the Academic Language Centre. In most cases little or no preparation is required, but see the individual course descriptions.  

Dates and times may sometimes be arranged in consultation, and it is always possible to put in a special request for a course to be offered, as long as you can get together a minimum of 4 participants. 

Course overview

Dr. M.C. (Maria) Sherwood-Smith is available for personal advice geared to your particular language problems, and also offers a selection of mini courses and seminars. The focus is on the aspects that non-native speakers tend to find particularly difficult when writing about their research in English.

Course; 7 sessions
An important part of scientific work consists of communicating research results to the international scientific community and to society at large. This course provides rules and guidelines for three different modes of communicating results.

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Five-minute talks

Mini course; 2 sessions
The main focus in this short course is on content and structure of a very short talk/lightning presentation, but the skills learned here can also be applied to longer presentations.

  • Participants are required to attend both sessions.    
  • Maximum number of participants: 6    


One two-hour session 
 Attending a conference is a great way for PhD candidates to expand their research horizons and their network… but can also be rather daunting. How can you talk to that important professor? And what if you don’t know anybody at the reception?


Mini course; 3 sessions
This short course focuses on the communicative aspects of writing about your research: how to ensure that you make your writing as easy as possible for the reader to follow and understand. This will considerably improve your chances of publishing in top journals.     

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Mini course; 2 sessions, together with Prof. Christine Espin
Academic life does not consist exclusively of writing articles and teaching – in order to get your article published, arrange for hotel accommodation at that conference, or get a job in the first place, there are a lot of requests, applications, and other kinds of text writing involved. You email journal editors; you are asked to ‘write a profile of yourself’ for your Institute’s web page; you have to have an English CV, and so on.  

  • Participants must attend both sessions. 
  • PhD candidates only  

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Unless otherwise stated, courses are open free of charge to regular PhD candidates and Research Master's students of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. PhD candidates from other Leiden University faculties or institutes may also join, but only if there is room; moreover, these students are required to pay a fee per session.  

Further, in the interest of an optimal learning experience, the instructor reserves the right to adjust the composition of groups to include representatives of the different Institutes as much as possible – so first come, first served will not always be possible.  

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