Ivo Ganchev

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This article documents the academic writing course design process for advanced Chinese learners aiming to pursue postgraduate degrees in business-related fields at their respective target universities in the UK. Four holders of BA degrees in the social sciences from second tier universities in Beijing were tested, surveyed and observed in detail to design a non-terminal twenty-hour pre-sessional writing course (ten two-hour sessions) to assist in their preparation for postgraduate study. All students held offers from Russell Group universities in the UK and had covered the IELTS requirement (6.5-7.0) for admission there prior to signing up for the EAP course discussed in this paper. The aim of the course is to enhance the students’ academic skills and improve their performance in the following year when they attend UK universities. The course design process is informed by two sets of principles, incorporating both a top-down and a bottom-up perspective. The former is framed within an understanding of EAP as academic, rather than language training. The latter is based on needs analysis of student-specific weaknesses explored through the use of a questionnaire, a diagnostic writing test and in-class observations. Both perspectives feed into the course goals and objectives which serve as a basis for the course rationale. Aiming to bridge the gap between Chinese undergraduate and UK postgraduate study, the course combines textbooks with authentic materials and formative with summative assessment. Reflections on major constraints and limitations are provided throughout the process. This documented case of academic writing course design aims to reveal challenges faced by EAP practitioners working with UK and Chinese institutions, and to present a middle ground approach to resolving tensions between top-down and bottom-up pressures in the context of course design for advanced Chinese graduates.


EAP, UK, China, course development, needs analysis, writing

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