Learning Development Advisors

You can make an appointment with a Learning Development Advisor to discuss academic skills related topics, such as:

  • Developing academic writing
  • Improving critical thinking
  • Understanding referencing and plagiarism
  • Using effective revision and exam strategies
  • Working on presentations

Our Advisors are all qualified teachers who have worked in schools, colleges and universities for a number of years.To get the most out of your appointment, please read the following guidelines:

How to prepare

In order to get the most from a tutorial, it's important to make the necessary preparation so that your tutor can advise and assist to the of their ability. Here are some things you should consider before you arrive at your appointment:

  • Think about what you want to achieve from the tutorial
  • Have a clear target - be realistic about what you can achieve in 30 minutes
  • Where possible bring along an example of your work - it is easier to work from something concrete
  • Check our workshop programme and online learning resources to see what other support is available from the Centre
  • Turn up on time
  • Cancel your appointment if you cannot attend - so that we can offer the appointment to someone else. Our aim to to help you develop your academic skills. In doing this you will become a more confident and independent learner. So, please remember:
  • We are not a proofreading service. We can, however, help you 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 'mark' work or suggest what mark you may get - we leave that to your course tutors.
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 ‘mark’ 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 to 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 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 you email as soon as possible (usually within a 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 to receive feedback on your assignment writing, please attach an extract, of your draft, along with the assignment brief / guidelines.
  3. Highlight areas or sections which you 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 words during one email tutorial. Instead, please select a section for us 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 Learning Development Centre Tutorials.

How to book, cancel 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 of 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 tutorials please contact Learning Development Centre Tutorials.

Student Writing Coaches

Aston University Student Writing Coaches work in the Learning Development Centre. They are peers or graduates who work with students to develop their academic writing skills. Student Writing Coaches are appointed following an interview and initial selection task - they all receive training prior to working with students.

Student Writing Coaches can help you to:

  • Develop an understanding of the writing process
  • Develop a critical approach to writing
  • Improve assignment structure
  • Clarify and organise ideas
  • Understand academic style, language and conventions
  • Identify strategies to improve approaches to writing
    Unfortunately, a student writing coach cannot proofread, amend or evaluate (mark) your assignment

Writing Coaches work with all Aston University students. They are not necessarily trained in English Second Language teaching or in supporting students with additional needs, such as dyslexia. You can access alternative services if you require support in these areas.

Writing Coaches will act as a supportive and friendly listener whilst you are working on a written assignment - helping you to develop your approach to academic writing and the way you convey information.

Writing Coaches do not act as subject specialists - if you need advice on subject content, you should see a lecturer or tutor in your School.

Writing Coaches only have time to look at a specific area of your assignment. As such it is important to come prepared for your coaching session - please see our page on preparing for a student Writing Mentor session.

All Writing Coach sessions are confidential. A Writing Coach may suggest that you seek advice from other Aston University staff but will not discuss any issues without your consent. A typical appointment with a Student Writing Coach will last between 30 - 60 minutes. To make the most of your appointment, we recommend that you:

  • Turn up at the appointed time. If you arrive late, you will receive less time with the Writing Coach.
  • Think about what you want to achieve from the session (e.g. improve your assignment structure, develop an assignment outline, improve use of academic writing style). Remember: be realistic about what you can achieve in 30 - 60 minutes.
  • If you cannot attend your appointment, please let the LDC know as soon as possible.
  • Do not bring along an assignment which is due to be handed in shortly (e.g. within two days of your appointment). The Writing Coach role is to help you develop your approaches to academic writing. That development will take time and you need to allow for this. The Writing Coaches do not provide a 'quick fix' solution. The aim is to make you a more confident and independent learner and writer.

Currently one to one appointments are available via Microsoft Teams for maximum of 45 minutes Monday - Friday 10:00 to 15:45. The last bookable time slot is is 15:00 to 15:45.

To book an appointment please email Learning Development Centre or telephone 0121 204 3040.

Dissertation Support for Postgraduate Students

Dissertation Webinars:

Getting Started with your Dissertation -Thursday 12th May, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

This session will explore practical ways of planning and managing dissertation projects, with a particular focus on the following: strategies for creating and refining research questions/topics; making a start with the research; managing time effectively; maintaining motivation.

Writing a Critical Literature Review -Thursday 19th May, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

This session, delivered by a Library Information Specialist, considers approaches to structuring a literature review, effective synthesis, and strategies to demonstrate your critical thinking within your literature review.

Finding Research literature via Scopus and Web of Science – Monday 23rd May, 3:00pm-4:00pm

This session will cover using Scopus and Web of Science to find peer reviewed literature, identify related documents, track citations over time and identify subject experts in your field.

Dissertations –Your Questions Answered –Tuesday 24th May, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

This session provides an overview of the expectations and structures of different types of dissertations and projects. There will be a focus on the objective(s) of each section of a dissertation/project and there will be a Q&A session to discuss your dissertation/project.

How to access the webinars:

  1. Log-in to the Learning Development Centre Blackboard module.
  2. Select Enter Live Events from the menu.
  3. Select the session you wish to join. The virtual room will open 15 minutes before the start time.

Dissertations Writing Retreats:

Our writing retreats provide a designated time and space for writing-up your project. They provide scheduled time for you to do some writing, divided with short activities to help you make progress. An LDC Advisor will also be on-hand to provide one-to-one advice about your work.

Scheduled Writing Retreats:

  • Thursday 9th June, 1:30pm - 4:30pm
  • Thursday 7th July, 1:30pm - 4:30pm
  • Thursday 4th August, 1:30pm - 4:30pm
  • Thursday 1st September, 1:30pm - 4:30pm

Book your place on Aston Futures.

LDC Workshops 

Each term we run a programme of workshops delivered by experienced study skills tutors and student mentors. These sessions focus on different academic skills areas, including:

  • Reading and note-taking strategies
  • Planning and writing essays, reports and dissertations
  • Presentation skills
  • Revision tips and preparing for exams

Workshop sessions involve a combination of group discussions, tutor presentations and small-group activities - the are FREE and available to all Aston students. Visit the LDC BlackBoard module to find details of the workshop timetable and check out our LDC Workshops - Frequently Asked Questions to help you get the most out of the session.

Placement students - Academic support for your placement assignments

Are you starting to think about your placement assignment?

Do you have questions about reflective writing? Planning and writing your placement project?

The Learning Development Centre team are available to support you!

  • Online study resources on reflective and report writing are available in the Learning Development Centre blackboard module
  • Receive 1-1 advice from Learning Advisors and Student Writing Coaches on reflective writing and placement projects either on campus or online - via teams and email tutorial (booking details below)
  • Webinars on reflective writing (45 minute sessions. 20 minute input on reflective writing, discussions on samples of writing followed by a Q&A session)
  • Monday 25th April 7.30 pm – 8.15 pm
  • Tuesday 3rd May 1.15 pm – 2 pm
  • Monday 9th May 7.30 pm – 8.15 pm
  • Friday 20th May 1.15 pm - 2 pm
  • Join these webinars through the Learning Development Centre blackboard module

To book an appointment with the LDC team, please email.

Or telephone: 0121 204 3040

All student revision and exam support

  • Access to maths drop-in on campus and online appointments for maths revision and advice.
  • Online resources available via the LDC Blackboard module, including advice on the expectations of campus-based exams, FAQs, revision planning tips, and advice on preparing for different types of exams.
  • Extensive maths revision resources via the LDC Blackboard course and LDC Maths YouTube channel.

Revision and exam strategies webinars

These webinars will provide you with information about on-campus exams and will cover a range of revision and exam strategies. There will be opportunities for you to ask questions during these sessions.

Webinars will take place through the Learning Development Centre blackboard module

  • Tuesday 26th April 4 – 4.45 pm
  • Wednesday 27th April 11 am – 12 pm