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Academic English


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to second-year students enrolled in the BA programme in Philosophy (BA Plus-traject and Standaardtraject).


This course teaches the students how to present a philosophical argument in English. During the first half of the course, the students learn to write an academic paper in appropriate English, with attention to clarity, coherence, cohesion and information structure. During this first part of the course, they write an academic essay in English on a philosophical topic of their choice, they critically evaluate each other’s texts and they learn to edit and revise their own texts according to the expectations of English readers.

The second half of the course focuses on presentation techniques and verbal communication in English. After all, philosophers do not only publish their work in books and journals, they also share their insights at international conferences. Such a conference presentation will often be based on an academic article, but the structure of the article needs to be adapted for presentation, because spoken words are governed by different rules than written texts. The last tutorial will be a mini conference at which participants present the argument they previously put forward in their articles.

Course objectives

This course aims to increase the ability of the student to communicate in English on philosophical matters, both in writing and verbally. This skill is practiced by means of writing and editing assignments, through peer feedback in class, in presentation exercises and in a philosophical conference setting.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of :

  • the Academic vocabulary and the formal requirements of academic writing in English;

  • the differences in sentence structure and paragraph structure between English and Dutch;

  • the general expectations of English readers regarding the placing and sequence of specific types of information in sentences, paragraphs and entire documents;

  • the characteristics of English pronunciation and its specific challenges for Dutch speakers;

  • the role and function of visual aids in academic presentations;

  • the use of posture, diction, timing and interaction in presentations.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • write a paper on a philosophical topic that meets the grammatical and ideomatic requirements of academic English to such an extent that it can be converted into publishable English by a professional translator / proofreader without major adjustments;

  • discuss philosophical issues with colleagues in adequate English;

  • give a short presentation in English on a philosophical topic.


The timetable is available on the BA Wijsbegeerte website
BA Wijsbegeerte 2016-2017 (BA Plus-traject or Standaardtraject), tweede jaar.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars ( 2 hours per week)

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load: 5 EC x 28 hours = 140 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 14 × 2 hours = 26 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 13 × 3 hours per week = 39 hours

  • Time to write a paper, including reading/research: 40 hours

  • Time for preparing for final presentation: 35 hours

Assessment method

  • Written paper (50%)

  • Presentation (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (paper, presentation).
Class participation is a mandatory requirement for taking the tests and/or resit.


One resit will be offered, covering the writing of the paper. Satisfactory completion of the presentation is a prerequisite for taking the resit.


Blackboard will be used for uploading information about the course, course materials, and papers.

Reading list

  • A. Osmond, Academic Writing and Grammar for Students (London 2013).
    ISBN 978-1-4462-1091-8 (E-book: ISBN: 9781446281727).


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for and exams in the column under the heading “uSis-Actnbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Drs E.J. van Hulst


Not applicable.