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Academic Writing Assessment 2009 Learning Skills Centre University Centre for Teaching and Learning.

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1 Academic Writing Assessment 2009 Learning Skills Centre University Centre for Teaching and Learning

2 Four main assessment areas 1.expressing your ideas clearly and processing information logically so that the reader can understand your meaning 2.structuring your writing well (this means putting it in the right order) 3.writing in an appropriate academic style in well constructed sentences 4.writing grammatically correct English.

3 Two parts to the assessment Part 1: Reading comprehension Part 2: Writing task

4 Example text Nuclear power stations currently produce about a quarter of Britain's electricity. Many are now becoming inefficient and are being closed down. No reactors have been built since the 1980s, as accidents such as the Chernobyl disaster and the problem of disposing of nuclear waste have made them unpopular. If they are phased out, by 2023 only 4% of Britain's electricity will come from nuclear power. Soaring oil and gas prices, decreasing fossil fuel reserves and fears of climate change, however, have led to renewed government support for nuclear power. Britain’s top science academy, The Royal Society, is suggesting a new generation of atomic power stations because it believes they will provide a reliable supply of energy while helping to reduce carbon emissions. The Society claims that, without nuclear energy, Britain would have to rely increasingly on fossil fuels, leading to increasing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. It argues that in the short term the partial replacement of nuclear power stations is essential, for renewable energies, such as wind, wave, and solar power, would not be developed fast enough: there would be a shortfall in supply between the phasing out of nuclear power and the creation of sufficient renewable sources. All parties in this debate agree that Britain needs need to cut down its consumption of oil and gas. Professor Wallace of the Royal Society has warned the government that the country will be unable to cut greenhouse gas emissions without new nuclear power stations. He sees nuclear energy as a clean fuel source because it does not pollute the atmosphere. Roger Higman, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth, has described nuclear power as a "dirty option" because the same technologies are used to develop nuclear weapons. Countries that follow Britain’s lead in building nuclear power stations will also be able to make bombs. Nuclear power is dirty in a different way according to Steven Tindale of Greenpeace, because it routinely produces radioactive emissions. It also generates dangerous nuclear waste, which has to be actively managed for 200,000 years. Renewable energy sources, according to Wallace, are unreliable, relying on inconsistent wind and wave power. He also claims that the investment needed for building 20,000 wind turbines, for example, would be huge. Tindale disagrees, because, he says, there are many technologies which can overcome the problem, particularly the development of hydrogen (a renewable substitute for natural gas) that can be stored for use at any time. He believes that the outlay needed for renewable sources of energy would be no more than the projected government investment in nuclear power stations.

5 1Which of the following best sums up the main idea of paragraph 2? A There are arguments in favour of building new nuclear power generators in the UK now BThere are differences between nuclear power and fossil fuels CCarbon dioxide emissions cause global warming DUsing nuclear power has long term effects Multi-choice reading questions

6 Multi-choice questions 2In line15 ‘shortfall’ means Atemporary situation Blimit Cdeficit Ddefect

7 Writing task Approximately 400 word mini essay Analyse and discuss the information in a logical, clearly reasoned way and reach a conclusion. Summarise the main points in the argument for and against a course of action Then suggest a way forward based on the information in the passage.

8 Example question for writing task “Summarise the main points in the arguments for and against nuclear fuel, and suggest a way forward, based on the information in the passage.”

9 Reading text The passage on nuclear power is divided into the following paragraphs: an explanatory introduction that briefly provides essential information a paragraph on time frames: how soon can renewable sources be put in place? a paragraph on the clean/dirty aspects of nuclear fuel a paragraph on reliability and comparative costs.

10 Introductory Paragraph Body Paragraphs Concluding Paragraph Restatement of Thesis Brief reference to key points Context / background General to Specific Statements Thesis Statement Point / claim in topic sentence Expansion of point Example as evidence Wrap up sentence Point / claim in topic sentence Expansion of point Example as evidence Wrap up sentence Point / claim in topic sentence Expansion of point Example as evidence Wrap up sentence Essay structure

11 Introduction The introduction serves as a map the essay. It provides: background information introducing topic and setting the context an outline of the topics to be covered (roadmap blueprint) a thesis statement (answer to the essay question)

12 Background briefly explaining the problem that Britain needs to maintain current energy supplies but is closing nuclear power stations that there is disagreement about what energy sources should be used in the future: nuclear or sustainable

13 The outline of topics (roadmap) When the issues of safety, supply and timing are discussed, it becomes clear that nuclear fuel has more disadvantages than advantages. or The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear fuel can be discussed in terms of safety, supply and timing.

14 The thesis statement In this example your thesis would suggest a way forward: Evaluation of the issues indicates that the British should not choose nuclear fuel. Instead, they should consider a variety of renewable sources of energy.

15 Body paragraph 1 A paragraph that explains both the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power in terms of safety (to people and the environment): it does not generate greenhouse gases so is good for the environment it is renewable, unlike fossil fuels it is dangerous if it does go wrong there are long-term problems with decommissioning plants and waste disposal if countries copy Britain, they could use the technology to make nuclear bombs

16 Body paragraph 2 A paragraph that explains both the advantages and the disadvantages of nuclear energy in terms of supply and timing: renewable sources of power may not be ready to provide all the power that is needed before the existing power stations close nuclear power stations are relatively quick to build, so would solve the problem in good time

17 Body paragraph 3 A paragraph in which you outline a possible way forward, based on the information provided in the passage. (This is your evaluation of the debate.)

18 Model paragraph for AWA Supporters of nuclear fuel emphasise its cleanness and sustainability, but its detractors contend that it can potentially damage the environment, perhaps forever. Nuclear reactors, unlike power stations that use fossil fuels, do not produce greenhouse gases; moreover, nuclear fuel is a sustainable source of energy. There is always a possibility, however, that there may be a disaster caused by human error. Any nuclear material that is leaked into the environment could potentially cause far more damage than fossil fuels. There are long term problems with disposing of nuclear waste. Another criticism is that the technology for nuclear reactors is the same as that for nuclear weapons, so countries could easily develop such weapons which are extremely destructive. Nuclear fuel is therefore not a good choice when considering the environment. Topic sentence – main idea Supporting arguments in favour of nuclear fuel Counter arguments against nuclear fuel Wrap sentence

19 Conclusion The conclusion demonstrates that you have supported the thesis statement by referring briefly to the key points.

20 Style of writing Basically, we all know that nuclear fuel is stupendously dangerous. Why would anyone want to get nuclear fuel in their country? Nowadays there’s so much more stuff out there you can pull in to generate power. In my opinion, wind farms are awesome! But there’s wave power, water wheels etc that can all come up with the goods. You can’t go wrong with any of these.

21 Points to consider Colloquial language – nowadays, basically Uses the third person rarely first (I, we) and never second (you) Contractions - you’ve, can’t emotional personal language - awesome phrasal verbs - make up your mind runs-ons rhetorical questions Pronoun- antecedent

22 Formal style Nuclear fuel is dangerous because of the short and long term risks outlined above. Governments can use sustainable resources such as wind or water to generate the required energy without damaging the environment. Wind farms are probably the best option because……

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