Campus - 15.09.2016 - 00:00 

Writing workshops at the HSG

People who study will have to write academic texts sooner or later – essays, term papers, a Bachelor’s thesis and possibly a Master’s thesis, perhaps even a doctoral thesis. Writing such kinds of texts is demanding, and every student has to learn it first. The University of St.Gallen provides helpful services for this process. An article by Dana Sindermann.

16 September 2016. At the very outset of their studies, all the students at the HSG go to a little writing school. "Introduction to academic writing" is a compulsory course in the Assessment Year. Here students are familiarised with the foundations of academic writing: quoting, structuring, arguing, finding topics, as well as dealing with subject matters independently, critically and reflectively.

Extending students’ own writing skills

The HSG also offers writing workshops at the Bachelor’s and Master’s Levels, for instance "Don’t be afraid of the empty sheet", where students are able to refresh their basic knowledge and, primarily, extend their writing skills: formulating interesting questions, expressing themselves clearly and precisely and developing an academic writing style. This does not only require the relevant instructions but also practice and scope for trying things out. The latter is provided by the writing courses in contextual studies.

Besides such classic courses, the HSG also offers newer formats. One of them is the Night of the writing skills, which takes place once a year in October, i.e. at exactly the time when Assessment Year undergraduates are supposed to write their first term paper. Students are able to fine-tune their work and profit from advice provided by writing tutors – both in German and in English. Professors enrich the event by means of stimulating lectures focusing on writing. The driving force behind this night is the HSG Writing Lab.

Writing advice in the Writing Lab

The Writing Lab is the HSG’s coordination and consultation centre with regard to academic writing. At its location in Guisanstrasse, it also offers individual writing advice. "This is primarily about optimising the writing process. This means we develop strategies together with individual students to ensure that they manage to write even better," says Eleni Spiroudis, a member of staff of the Writing Lab. Students can fix an appointment for free writing advice through the website of the Writing Lab.

Teachers can also find support at the Writing Lab. "For example, we offer faculty members an opportunity to come to one of their courses and coach students to write specifically for that course. We do this, for instance, in Christoph Frei’s course on law and the state, Recht und Staat, where students have to write a number of short texts, and we provide them with support for that."

Courses for doctoral students in the pipeline

The Writing Lab is still young. It was established at the HSG at the beginning of this year and is currently developing further writing coaching formats. There are also plans for something for doctoral students, such as the Writing Research Papers and Dissertations block, which is intended to help students acquire assurance and style in academic writing – to the extent that their text will be able to appeal to an international readership. Those who succeed in doing this will be bound to have hundreds of deleted sentences and a number of sleepless nights behind them.

The author, Dana Sindermann, is a research assistant at the Institute for Business Ethics.

photo: zettberlin /

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