Students in a laboratory conducting experiments

Scientific study

Studying science, engineering or technology

Science writing has different characteristics. In humanities writing, there is not only one answer; in science there is sometimes one answer, and we need to put more evidence, especially data. - Xinying

As an international student coming to study in the UK, you will probably do your studies in either the Arts or the Sciences. Although daily life may be quite similar for students in either the Arts or the Sciences, there are some significant differences. For example, the kind of academic writing assignments that you will be asked to do or the ways in which are taught on your course may be different. For this reason, students planning to study science, technology or engineering need to be especially aware of what might be expected of them.

In these activities you will identify some of the particular skills needed by students studying science, technology or engineering-based subjects. You will also consider what kind of writing tasks you might need to do as a student in these disciplines.

Activity 1Identifying skills and abilities needed for scientific study

In this activity you are going to identify some of the specific skills and abilities you might need as a student in a science, engineering or technology-based subject area.

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Examine this list of skills and abilities and select the check boxes next to any which you think are important for students studying in science, technology or engineering fields. Then read the feedback.

numeracy and ability to deal with statistics
skill at using frequent quotes to support arguments
good control of language and spelling
good command of scientific and technical vocabulary
a precise and informative writing style
ability to use metaphor and simile
familiarity with SI units and use of scientific symbols
ability to interpret and produce charts and graphs
a rhetorical writing style (writing that supports a specific point of view)
ability to use references appropriately and correctly

Activity 2Writing tasks in science, technology and engineering

What particular kinds of writing task can students in science, technology or engineering expect to do? Of course, you may be asked to write essays from time to time but you will also need to produce more specialised kinds of writing and show competence in scientific or technical skills. This is especially the case if you are on a postgraduate course.

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Study this list of different writing tasks that students of science, technology and engineering subjects may be required do and read the different descriptions. Select a type of writing from the list on left and then the appropriate description from the list on the right. When you have selected and matched up all of the items, check your answers and read the feedback.

Would you like to review the main points?