The Academic Writing Skills Programme

If you're a student, this page should answer most of your questions. You will be invited to take part in the AWSP by email at the relevant time for the students on your degree.

Note that other students in your various classes may be taking part at different times from you due to being enrolled on different degree programmes.


What is it?

Helpful for improving your writing skills and for understanding what is expected of university students. - previous AWSP student

The Academic Writing Skills Programme (AWSP) is a writing diagnostic designed to allow you to get the most out of your academic writing.

University-level writing in the United Kingdom is very different from writing at school or college or in other countries and, as a result, the AWSP gives you the opportunity (without worrying about grades) to receive specific feedback and guidance on how we expect you to write at the University of Glasgow.

Run by us here in the Learning Enhancement and Academic Development Service (LEADS), the AWSP is unique to the University of Glasgow.

Through completion of a number of multiple-choice questions and then submission of a short piece of writing, the AWSP lets you see the ways in which your writing matches what your markers will be looking for in assessments, and provides you with feedback on ways to improve your work.

This means that you'll get feedback on your writing before you submit your first essay.

What does it involve?

The AWSP has some different elements:

  • Everyone undertaking the AWSP must complete an online writing diagnostic.
    • It is completed via Moodle and consists of a number of multiple-choice questions and a short essay
    • It will take no longer than one hour and five minutes
    • It will be read and marked by staff in LEADS, and you will receive feedback on your essay with information on what you've done well and what could be improved
  • Some students will be referred to classes (your feedback will clearly tell you if you need to attend classes)
    • The classes run for two hours for two weeks (so, four hours of class time in total)
    • The classes are designed to give you the skills in writing academic English and to allow you to showcase the best of your abilities
    • The classes are fun, informal, and engaging
    • The classes will give you the chance to talk one-to-one with a tutor about your writing

Students consistently review our classes as being excellent and informative.

'Overall, it was a good course. It felt like a mini or condensed writing course.' - previous AWSP student

'I'm surprised this has been the most enjoyable class I've been to in the last six weeks I've been at uni!' - previous AWSP student

It's rare to get the chance to talk in-depth about your writing, and about what we expect at the University of Glasgow from your writing, and so students value the one-to-one contact with our staff.

We mark your work on:

  • Your writing style and grammar (so, we look at sentence structuring, punctuation, and correct use of grammar)
  • Your tone (so, how you write and whether you adhere to the formal rules of academic writing)
  • Your argument (so, the ways in which you engage with/answer the essay question, and how you build/ structure your essay)

We will provide feedback and information on these elements of writing in order to best help you improve while at the University of Glasgow.

How do I do it?

Compact, clear, concise. Everything was explained clearly. - previous AWSP student

With thousands of students across the University, it is not possible to ask everyone to complete it at the same time. Students complete it in their first year of study at the University of Glasgow, and you must complete it during the session to which you have been assigned.

You will be emailed with a link to the Moodle page for the AWSP at the appropriate time during the academic year. Youwill be enrolled on the course prior to receiving the course link.

Once on the Moodle page, you'll see 'Preparing to take the diagnostic' and a 'Take the diagnostic exercise here' buttons.

Take a look through the first three information sections.

When you are happy, click the 'Take the diagnostic exercise here' button. This will take you to a page that explains the diagnostic.

Everything was clear. Amazing lecturer! Not time-consuming. - previous AWSP student

All of the key information on the diagnostic is here, but you are told that:

  • You have one hour and ten minutes to complete the diagnostic (Moodle automatically times this, and provides a countdown timer in the top-right of the screen once the diagnostic has started)
  • We recommend that you spend about 5-10 minutes on the multiple choice questions, 55 minutes on writing the essay, and 5 minutes on proof-reading and reviewing the essay before submission
  • You MUST NOT write your essay in a Word document and then copy and paste it into Moodle. Many browsers block the copy and paste options and students write to us every year because their timer runs out before they have a chance to manually retype everything into their browser. Instead, write the essay directly into the text box in Moodle. (If you require to submit in an alternative format, please (email us (Dr Andrew Struan and Caitlin Diver) at

Click the 'Take the diagnostic exercise here' button at the bottom of the screen you now find yourself on, and you will be taken to the launch page of the diagnostic.

There are two stages in the submission process when you are finished:

  1. First, make sure you click the 'Submit' button when you have finished writing your essay.
  2. You will then be taken to a 'review' page; double-check this, then submit your final answers.

You will get immediate feedback on the multiple choice questions, and you will be contacted by email when the feedback on your written piece is ready. The AWSP runs several times a year and the busiest instance involves approximately 8000 submissions, but our marking team usually complete this within two calendar weeks of the closing date for the exercise.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enrol onto the AWSP?

You'll receive an email well in advance of your AWSP session with instructions on how to begin the AWSP. This email will give you instructions on the Moodle course and dates/deadlines for submission of the Programme. (You do not need to enrol yourself onto the AWSP on MyGlasgow.)

When do I take part in the AWSP?

Students in the Colleges of Arts, Social Sciences and MVLS (Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences), both undergraduate and postgraduate taught, take part in the AWSP at the start of Semester 1 (in September).

Postgraduate students in the College of Science and Engineering take part in the AWSP at the start of Semester 1 (in September).

Undergraduate students in the College of Science and Engineering take part in the AWSP at the start of Semester 2 (in January).

How do I access my AWSP?

The link to your specific AWSP Moodle will be emailed to you. You must log into the relevant Moodle site to access and complete the AWSP.

How long does the AWSP take to complete?

The initial diagnostic exercise takes just over an hour. It is completed through Moodle, so can be done anywhere. You will need to complete the diagnostic in one sitting, so ensure you give yourself the time to finish within that hour.

Do I have to take part in the AWSP / can I opt out of the AWSP?

All incoming undergraduate and postgraduate taught students take part in the AWSP. Completion is by submitting an essay in answer to one of the available questions; we cannot accept any prior work as a submission.

I am an online student; do I still have to take part in the AWSP?

Yes, the AWSP is completed online via Moodle. Any follow-up work after the exercise can be completed through an online writing course, and online students are very welcome to make Zoom/telephone appointments with the relevant Effective Learning Adviser.

Can I take the AWSP in an alternative format?

Yes, absolutely. If you require a different format for your AWSP submission, please email us (Dr Andrew Struan and Caitlin Diver) at

Why do students have to do the AWSP?

The AWSP is unique to Glasgow. As such, it allows you to engage with Glasgow-specific writing processes and practices before your grades are affected. You should view the AWSP as a positive opportunity to receive specific, tailored feedback on your writing without it impacting on any final grades. All incoming undergraduate and postgraduate taught students should complete AWSP; this completion will be recorded on student transcripts.

What about after the AWSP? How do I keep improving my writing?

LEADS works with students all year round, and at all levels, to continually improve their academic work and their academic writing. You are welcome to attend any of our classes or book a one-to-one appointment with us. Information on everything can be found at

I still have questions!

Email us (Dr Andrew Struan and Caitlin Diver) at

If you would prefer to access the diagnostic in a different format, or if you have any special requirements that you think we should know about, please get in touch.