Frequently Asked Questions about the WDC

It’s week two already…! Teaching has started in earnest and term is really starting to get under way. Many of you are starting to think about your first assignments, and may be wondering how the WDC can help. We’ve put together a list of FAQs about the WDC- what we offer and how we work, to answer some of the common questions that we’re asked at this time of year!

What does the Writing Development Centre do?

We offer guidance on a range of academic issues to help students develop their skills and succeed as independent learners. Our service includes individual tutorials, workshops as part of our own programme and also in the context of degree programmes and modules in the Schools. We are developing our range of online resources too.

What can the Writing Development Centre help me with?

Academic writing is one of the main issues we offer guidance on, as it’s usually the focus of assessment. We can help with not only the final product (authorial voice and academic style), but also the whole process of writing, from analysing the question, planning and structuring, building an argument to pulling a draft together and editing it. However, we can also advise on a wider range of study skills which will help support your studies such as exams and revision, time management, critical reading or note-taking.

When should I come and see you?

We embed our advice in the context of work you’re actually doing, so that it’s relevant, specific to your studies and practical – based on your own experiences and study style. If you’d like to book a tutorial, it’s best to wait until a little later in the term when you have a specific assignment you’re working on which we can discuss, rather than bring general questions before you’ve really made a start on your studies. Until you’ve begun working on that first essay, you won’t know what you need to know, and it’s hard for us to know what to suggest!

We’re currently running a lot of workshops around the university, so tutorial availability is lower than it would be later in the term. Look out for our workshops – either run as part of your course, or our central programme – you may find your questions are answered there.

How does the WDC work? What happens in a tutorial?

We aren’t subject experts – our expertise is in learning, teaching and assessment. We can help you to identify areas in your work which you can develop, and explore study strategies, skills and techniques which work for you, so you can become a successful independent learner.

In a tutorial, we will discuss your query with you, look at your work or ask about your approach to study, and any feedback you’ve had on your work, to identify where you might further develop or adapt your study skills. We can explain assignment briefs, marking criteria or academic conventions to help ensure you understand your lecturers’ expectations. We can then explore and illustrate study strategies that will suit your needs and personal preferences, and discuss how you might put them into practice. We can also offer follow-up tutorials to see how you’re getting on.

Do you run classes?

We run a programme of workshops throughout the term (and sometimes in the long summer vacation) on a range of study topics. We try to anticipate the topics which are most appropriate for the majority of students, and welcome suggestions as to the timing of sessions, or new topics you’d like us to offer. Our workshops are stand-alone sessions, and may be aimed at students at different points in their studies. We also run workshops as part of degree programmes and modules in the Schools – look out for sessions in your own course. We don’t run a series of classes on writing as we feel study skills are best learned in context, rather than as a separate course.

I’m an international student and English isn’t my first language. Can you help?

We are not specialists in teaching English as a Second Language or English for Academic Purposes. If you would like help with your academic English, and have a UELA score of less than 70 in your writing, you will be best supported by INTO’s In-Sessional English programme, which offers classes and individual consultations. If you have near-native English writing skills (a UELA score of over 70 or exemption from the UELA), you are welcome to make an appointment with us.

We may be able to comment on a limited range of fundamental grammar issues, but our main role is to help you understand the expectations, assumptions and conventions of study in UK university culture, which may be very different to your own. This might include understanding how teaching, learning and assessment differ (and how you need to adapt) or how academic UK English writing conventions are used to signal things like criticality, authorial voice or structure.

I just wanted to ask a question about the WDC or my studies….

We don’t currently offer a drop-in service – tutorials are by appointment only. Our tutorials are confidential and student-centred, and we try to ensure that when you book an appointment with us, we can focus on your questions without being disturbed, and ask that you extend this courtesy to others. At busy times we operate a waiting list for appointments, and ask that students don’t try to ‘jump the queue’ by dropping in. If you have a question you’d like to discuss with us, please book an appointment. If it’s a quick question or is about the WDC service, you can check our website or email us

Can I make an appointment?

You’re welcome to book a tutorial with us – appointments are made online. As we don’t have a reception desk, our booking process is handled by the Library Admin team, we aren’t able to book appointments or answer questions about bookings from the WDC offices. You can book a tutorial on our website: If you have a question about booking, please email us on

How can I contact the Writing Development Centre?

Our website is the main source of information about the service: You can also email us or tweet us @NCL_WDC. As we use our offices for teaching, we don’t offer a drop-in or phone service.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.