This page is older archived content from an older version of the Emerald Publishing website.

As such, it may not display exactly as originally intended.

Writing in the Disciplines, Building Supportive Cultures for Student Writing in UK Higher Education

Writing in the Disciplines, Building Supportive Cultures for Student Writing in UK Higher Education.


Lisa Clughen, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Christine Hardy, Nottingham Trent University, UK


Writing in the Disciplines: Building Supportive Cultures for Student Writing in UK Higher Education examines and develops the praxis of writing at university from a sociocultural perspective. Chapters focus on key issues in writing environments from school through various disciplines at university, offering insights into the impact of such environments on student-writers and on the ways in which they construct writing differently.

The book draws on empirical research, practice and the existing body of knowledge, to offer practical activities developed by scholars in specific disciplinary contexts that can be used effectively with student-writers in other disciplines.

The overall intention is to improve the student experience and engagement with their studies through the optic of academic writing. It will, therefore, influence debates about academic writing and will assist academics to articulate writing requirements for students addressing issues of social inclusion, retention, and widening participation.

Additional Information:

Academic writing for students within higher education is an essential and perennial skill that impacts on both their studies and assessments. With widening participation and a changing educational setting, many students entering higher education do not have the requisite writing skills and this is a source of frustration for disciplinary lecturers and students alike. In addition, it is increasingly common for students to study interdisciplinary subjects that have different writing cultures that are often an anathema to those outside the disciplines.

This book aims to bridge the gap between writing outside and inside the university and student/staff expectations of academic writing by combining theoretical issues in literacy scholarship with empirical evidence from students and staff involved. Crucially, it offers practical activities to enable students to become engaged with writing cultures at university.

It is organised into four sections: introduction, writing cultures, creating supportive writing cultures and conclusion.

  • The introduction draws together the contextual and theoretical approaches to literacies (and writing in particular) drawing on the work of leading academic writers and theorists. The movement from the autonomous approach to a social constructivist and multiple literacies approach will be discussed, drawing on empirical examples to highlight the issue of multiple literacies expected of today’s students. It will be argued that all approaches to writing have some value but have to be culturally situated, ie by writing in the disciplines.
  • Part two contains three chapters, charting the writing cultures that students encounter throughout their education from school to university and finally in the disciplines. This section will give academics an insight into student literacies prior to university, their expectations and practices of literacies at university and the mismatch between student and staff experiences and expectations. Finally, there is a genre analysis of writing within the disciplines, outlining the particular writing conventions found across university curricula.
  • The third section is about creating supportive environments and offers practical advice for engaging students in their writing within their discipline, it will demonstrate teaching practices that have been successful in increasing students’ confidence and ability in writing. It focuses on writing spaces, writing in the virtual environment, understanding disciplinary requirements, alternative forms of writing, and social writing. All chapters draw from empirical evidence of working with students and use case studies to demonstrate activities and approaches.
  • The final section is the conclusion and draws the book together.


This book is intended for all involved in designing and delivering academic programmes within Higher Education. It is, therefore, aimed at mainstream academic and professional services staff, but it will also appeal to a wider audience such as those working in government bodies associated with HE (eg HEA, Hefce) and the National Union of Students. It would also be useful for teachers working with those pupils who intend to go to university and associated bodies, eg Ofsted.

This is a practitioner text rather than a student text. However, it would be recommended reading on postgraduate programmes in teaching development, for example, PGCHEs and MAs in educational development.

Book Information

ISBN Print: 9781780525464
Publication Date: 16 May 2012
Format print: Paperback
Imprint: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Page count: 156
Dimensions: 234 x 250
Audience: Professional & Vocational

Buy now

Request Inspection copy

Request Review copy

Sign up for subject alerts


Writing in the Disciplines: Building Supportive Cultures for Student Writing in UK Higher Education brings a fresh perspective to existing debates on Academic Writing research and pedagogy. The book argues that writing is a sociocultural practice, and provides examples of different ways in which lecturers in the disciplines and writing support practitioners are responding to this idea. What is particularly stimulating about the collection is that it focuses on students, and in doing so, prompts subject academics and those working in the field of writing development to recognise the full extent to which student-writers are 'embodied' individuals who bring their own histories, preferences, strengths, anxieties, and differing levels of experience to their writing.

Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams

Centre for Academic Writing, Coventry University, England


Firmly grounded in theory and contributing to the current debates around academic literacy development, this book describes a range of approaches to helping students engage with the specifics of writing and dealing with information in their discipline so that they can develop more control over their writing. As one of the central tenets of the book's approach to writing is viewing it as socially constructed, Lisa Clughen and Christine Hardy emphasise the importance of providing supportive environments and spaces for writing, as well as the importance of dialogue in the process of writing development. A variety of ways of addressing this are presented throughout this volume.

This wide-ranging and informative book is a useful resource for all members of academia who would like to develop their understanding of the theory underpinning literacy development at tertiary level and of the practical approaches to developing student writing and student writers in a variety of disciplines and contexts.

Dr Nadya Yakovchuk

Student Learning Adviser, SPLASH, Library and Learning Support Services, University of Surrey



Additional material