The Learning Development Centre provides a range of academic writing advice and study support to Aston students. Whether you are just starting out at university, in the final stages of your undergraduate degree, or undertaking postgraduate study, the LDC team can work with you to develop your writing and learning.

Find out more below about working with our Learning Development Advisors, Student Writing Coaches, or our resident Royal Literary Fund (RLF) Fellow.

Tutorials with a Learning Advisor

Tutorials with a Learning Advisor (Teaching Fellow in Learning Development)

All students can book confidential one-one tutorials with our Learning Advisors who specialise in writing and study skills strategies.

Whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate, campus based or distance learner, our advisors can help you improve your study skills and feel more confident with your assignment writing.

Our tutorials can cover a range of topics including:

  • revision and exam strategies
  • understanding assignment questions
  • planning and structuring written assignments
  • referencing 
  • critical thinking
  • understanding feedback
  • managing your time

Our aim is to help you to develop your academic skills. In doing this, you will become a more confident and independent learner. So please note:

  • We are not a proofreading service. We can however, help you to improve your proofreading skills, so that you can correct your own assignments.
  • We may not be subject specialists in your area of study - so we cannot comment on the content of your assignments.
  • We do not 'work' or suggest what mark you may get - we leave that to your lecturers.

What types of tutorials are available with Learning Advisors?

  • Face-face appointments in the Learning Development Centre
  • Online appointments (MS Teams or Blackboard Collaborate)
  • Email tutorials

How long is a tutorial?

  • Appointments are usually 30 minutes but can last up 45 minutes, if required.

Can a group of us attend a tutorial?

Yes! if there is a group of you with similar questions from the same course, please let us know when your booking your appointment, so we can arrange a suitable space and/or additional time.

What happens in a tutorial?

In a tutorial you can discuss specific questions and pieces of work or have a conversation about your study skills and practices you would like to improve. Students often find it useful to talk about their assignments with our advisors to refine their approach and improve areas of writing. The advisor can look at a draft or extract of your assignment during the tutorial.

How do I prepare for a tutorial?

To get the most from a tutorial, it's important to make the necessary preparation so that your advisor can assist you to the best of their ability.

Be prepared to explain and discuss your concerns with the advisor:

  • Identify what you would like to focus on, or the skill you wish to improve
  • Consider previous feedback
  • Consider how you would like the advisor to work with you
  • You can send us extracts and/or drafts of your work which we can discuss with you.

To get the most from your appointment, we also advise you to:

  • Bring useful information with you to the appointment - this could be the assignment brief, assessment criteria, an assignment plan, a sample of your writing, and/or feedback on your writing.
  • Have a clear target - be realistic about what you can achieve in 30 minutes
  • Turn up on time
  • Cancel your appointment if you cannot attend - so that we can offer the appointment to another student.

How do I prepare for an email tutorial?

If you are unable to attend a one-to-one tutorial, our Learning Advisors can provide advice on your academic writing or referencing via email. Our advisors will respond to your email as soon as possible (usually within 72-hour period).

To ensure you receive the advice that you require, please be as specific as possible when contacting us:

  1. Explain your concerns or questions within an email, e.g. I am unsure about my in-text references / I am not confident if I am applying theory in my writing / is the structure of the essay logical/?
  2. If you would like receive feedback on your assignment writing, please attach an extract, or your draft, along with the assignment brief / guidelines.
  3. Highlight areas or sections which you can particularly concerned with, within your writing, and/or insert comments with specific questions in the document

Please note:

  • We are not able to look at a whole dissertation or a project report of more than 2000 using words during one email tutorial. Instead, please select a selection for to focus on.
  • We cannot grammar-check, proofread or edit your work.
  • We are not subject specialists, so we cannot advise on the subject-content or grade your work.

To use the e-tutorial service, send your email to ldc etutorials.

How to book, can or reschedule tutorials:

To book face-face or online appointments with our learning advisors, please contact the Learning Development Centre.

  • Telephone: 0121 204 3040
  • Email: Learning Development Centre
  • Or visit the Learning Development Centre on the first floor on the library between 10am - 4pm Monday to Friday.

Please contact the Learning Development Centre if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

To receive an email tutorial please contact: ldc etutorials.

Student Writing Coaches

Student Writing Coaches are Aston University students who receive specialist training to support students from across the University enhance their academic writing.

Student Writing Coaches aim to help you to develop your understanding of academic skills, study strategies and the range of resources available so that you can improve your academic writing. In this way, Student Writing Coaches empower students in their approach and ability to use resources and incorporate academic conventions effectively in their academic writing.

Student Writing Coaches can help you:

  • Understand the expectations of writing at University (for Undergraduates and Postgraduates)
  • Increase your understanding of assessment criteria
  • Clarify the key features of different forms of writing, including essays, reports and reflective writing
  • Plan your assignments
  • Improve the structure and clarity of your writing
  • Develop your understanding of referencing and plagiarism
  • Identify useful study resources
  • Can help you understand and act-upon feedback from your lecturers

Student Writing Coaches cannot:

  • Proofread your writing
  • Offer advice on grammar
  • Offer subject specific advice

What types of appointments are available with Student Writing Coaches?

  • Face-face appointments in the Learning Development Centre
  • Online appointments (MS Teams or Blackboard Collaborate)

How long is an appointment?

An appointment can range from 30 minutes up-to one hour.

What happens in an appointment with a Student Writing Coach?

You can discuss questions relating to organising your writing, communicating your ideas and academic conventions, including referencing, with Student Writing Coaches. Students often find it useful to talk about their assignments and can discuss extracts of their writing with Student Writing Coaches in order to identify areas and techniques for development.

How to book, cancel or reschedule an appointment with a Student Writing Coach:

To book face-face or online appointment with a Student Writing Coach, please contact the Learning Development Centre:

  • Telephone: 0121 204 3040
  • Email: Learning Development Centre
  • or visit the Learning Development Centre on the first floor of the library between 10am - 4pm Monday to Friday.

Please contact the Learning Development Centre if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

How do I prepare for an appointment with a Student Writing Coach?

It is important to prepare for your appointment with a Student Writing Coach so that you can make the most of your coaching appointment.

Be prepared to explain and discuss your concerns with the Student Writing Coach:

  • Identify what you would like to focus on
  • Consider the assessment criteria
  • Consider previous feedback

To get the most from your appointment, we also advise you to:

  • Bring useful information with you to the appointment - this could be the assignment brief, assessment criteria, an assignment plan, a sample of your writing, and/or feedback on your writing.
  • Turn up on time
  • Cancel your appointment if you cannot attend - so that we can offer the appointment to another student.
Royal Literary Fund

The Royal Literary Fund (RLF) believes that writers have a unique role to play as educators, and aim to share their experiences as writers with current students. Royal Literary Fund Fellows are professional published writers placed within UK universities to help students develop and strengthen writing.

Aston is fortunate to have novelist and playwright Dr Helen Kelly available to work with you on a one-one basis for two days per week during term-time.

The RLF website also provides a range of useful resources for planning your writing as well as writing essays and dissertations.

How can the RLF Fellow help you?

Providing a free, confidential service to develop your writing skills, Aston's RLF Fellow can help you to:

  • Plan your study time and develop a writing process that works for you.
  • Focus your reading for essay, dissertation or thesis writing,
  • Express your ideas more clearly. 
  • Answer grammar and punctuation questions.
  • Discover reading to improve your writing and editing skills.
  • Increase your writing skills with the aim of improving your grades.
  • Improve any academic writing - essays, reports, theses, dissertation, book chapters.

Book an appointment

Appointments with our RLF Fellow last for 50 minutes are are available on Mondays (on-campus) and Tuesdays (online) during term-time only. To request an appointment email Dr Helen Kelly.

If you are unable to make your agreed appointment, please email to cancel or rearrange at least 24 hours ahead of the appointed time - this will help other students have the opportunity to use this time.

Watch the Dr Helen Kelly RLF Promotional video for Learning Development Centre (LDC) below.