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Regular Course: ‘Academic English for PhD students’ in cooperation with the Academic Centre for Language Education (ACTO)

dinsdag, 8 oktober, 2019 - 12:00 to woensdag, 18 december, 2019 - 16:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus
Regular Course

An intake test will be organized to measure your level of English*. You need to complete the test after preregistration, and then you will receive an email which course you are enrolled in.

You don’t have to do the intake test if you successfully followed one of these courses before: you meet the criteria for ‘Argumentative writing in AE’ if you received a positive result for the ‘Introductory course Academic English’ and you can register for ‘Advanced writing skills and publications’ if you successfully followed ‘Argumentative writing in AE'.


Introductory Course Academic English

Course objectives:

This course aims to improve the level of academic English of junior doctoral researchers who already have a good general knowledge of English. The course focuses on developing language skills which are indispensable within an academic context. At the end of the course, students should be capable of expressing themselves clearly in an academic context and of understanding complex lines of reasoning in spoken and written English.

Course description:

This course aims to give participants maximum opportunity to develop their command of Academic English, both spoken and written, by simulating real-life academic contexts (presentations, reviews, abstracts). In addition to receiving individual feedback on these tasks, attention will be paid to improving the accuracy and range of both the vocabulary and grammatical structures required to complete such tasks. In as far as is possible, the content is tailored to meet the specific linguistic needs of the participants.


This course is pass/fail.You can obtain 5 credits if your final evaluation is successful. In order to pass the course, it is necessary to:

  • attend class regularly, prepare in advance at home and participate actively in class activities.
  • submit the two written assignments in a timely manner and to the standard expected for this course.
  • participate in the two presentation tasks, delivering presentations which meet the standard expected for this course.

The deadlines for submission of the written assignments and the presentation dates are noted on the course schedule. Detailed instructions concerning the requirements for these tasks will be provided in class.

InstructorCharlotte Bollansée

Max. 20 particpants


First semester, Mondays from 2.30 until 4.30 pm - 07/10; 14/10; 21/10; 28/10; 04/11; 18/11; 25/11; 02/12; 9/12; 16/12

Where? campus ETTERBEEK. Room: I.1.02. (New building. Next to building Z, smaller one with class rooms, access nr 6)

The course is organised free of charge for doctoral candidates to improve your language skills which you can actively use during your doctoral research, but we ask to actively participate during the weekly contact moments. Make sure in advance you can invest enough time in the course – late cancellations have consequences (see no-show policy).


Argumentation & Academic English: An Introduction to Critical Thinking

Course objectives: This is the first course in a three-part series designed to offer PhD students the writing skills that are needed in order to successfully complete a doctoral dissertation at the VUB. This first course focuses on the most essential skill, namely, argumentation. This course covers the basic elements and vocabulary requisite for making, critiquing, and analysing arguments. 

Course description: The focus of this course is to introduce the basic elements involved in critical thinking. We will learn about the classic forms of argumentation and we will expand our fluency in the academic registry.  Emphasis will be placed on the following: fallacies; generalizations; analogies; deductive reasoning; mapping arguments.  The goal will be to create the argumentative/critical thinking “tool box” that all PhD students need in order to survive and thrive at the doctoral level.

Evaluation: This course is taught on a pass/fail basis, and there is no final exam.  There are weekly in-class assignments that must be completed to pass the course: to receive credit for the course the student must hand in all assignments prior to the end of the course.  Attendance is mandatory, although exceptions will be granted for activities related to individual PhD projects (conferences, etc.)

Course material

A Rulebook for Arguments, 5th Edition, by Anthony Weston

Instructor: dr. Douglas Atkinson

Max. 25 particpants


First semester.

Group A: Thursday from 12 until 2pm – 10/10; 17/10; 24/10; 31/10; 07/11; 14/11; 28/11; 05/12; 12/12

Group B: Wednesday from 2pm until 4pm - 09/10; 16/10; 23/10; 30/10; 06/11; 13/11; 27/11; 04/12; 11/12: 18/12

Campus ETTERBEEK (For group 2A this is D 3.06, and for group 2B this is Room I 1.08. The I building is a new building, next to building Z, a smaller one with class rooms, to access go to VUB Entrance nr. 6. See the map. )


The course is organised free of charge for doctoral candidates to improve your language skills which you can actively use during your doctoral research, but we ask to actively participate during the weekly contact moments. Make sure in advance you can invest enough time in the course – late cancellations have consequences (see no-show policy).

Argumentative writing

Course objectives:

The aim of the programme is to help students enhance their English academic writing skills, produce effective posters and prepare and deliver better presentations in English.

Course description:

The emphasis will be on practical activities. Students will be required to write short texts, which will be analysed and discussed in class. Those already in the process of producing written work will be shown how to enhance their use of English. Classes will also focus on student posters and presentations.

Credits and evaluation : 

You can obtain 6 credits if your final evaluation is successful. Evaluation: On-going. Assessment on the basis of student performance in class (written assignments, posters, presentations). No final examination.

Instructor: dr. Douglas Atkinson

Max. 15 particpants

When? First semester, Tuesday from 12 until 2pm, 08/10; 15/10; 22/10; 29/10; 05/11; 12/11; 19/11; 26/11; 03/12; 10/12

Where? campus ETTERBEEK, Room: D.2.06


How to register? 

Preregistration is compulsory for these three courses: use this form and send it to the Researcher Training & Development Office. 

If you preregister for the course Introductory Training Academic English you will receive an invitation to take the online intake test from us.

If you preregister for the course Argumentative writing in AE and haven’t received a positive result for the Introductory Training Academic English earlier, you will receive a link to the intake test as well. 

Students receive an e-mail from the Researcher Training & Development Office for which course they can participate before the first lecture.


Please be aware of the fact that the cancellation and no-show policy of VUB applies. Cancellation of your participation is only allowed up to 5 working days before the start of the course. Otherwise, the policy as described on the doctoral school website will be followed.

Registration Rules: https://student.vub.be/en/phd/doctoral-training#registration
No Show Policy: https://student.vub.be/sites/vub/files/no_show_policy_aug2019.pdf