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Support for different groups

08 February 2024

We offer support to our students at all stages of university study. This includes English language learners, postgraduates, and more. Learn more and get ASC support.


Support for . . .

Unfamiliar territory?

Whether you’re coming from overseas, just out of school, or returning to study after a break, adjusting to the academic requirements of university can be challenging. Assessments and the workload might be different to what you’re used to and you may not always understand what your lecturers expect.

Like Google maps, but for Uni: ASC workshops

We can help you prepare for successful study at Canterbury by helping you learn the “rules of the road” for things like academic writing, preparing for exams, or meeting deadlines.
ASC workshops (ideally before you’ve got an assessment due) are the best place to start.

Zooming in on your work: 1-1 consultations

We can also help you with individual pieces of assessment. A consultation with a Learning Advisor might involve analysing a particularly difficult topic and sketching out a plan, for instance, or having a look at part of an initial draft. We’re not able to proofread full drafts, but can help you identify problem areas and give you the tools you’ll need to improve your work.

We also offer an on-call service (from 11am-2pm in term time, and 12pm-2pm during term breaks) where you can speak with a Learning Advisor for a 10-minute Quick Query on topics such as referencing, your proposed thesis statement, or how to use headings properly.

The Academic Skills Centre offers a range of support services to students who have English as an additional language. Along with our general workshops, we run courses specifically for English language learners:


The English Language Support Programme is a programme designed to help students to improve their academic English. Workshops are 50 minutes long and take place once per week during term time.

The Reading and Writing for English Language Learners workshops focus on key reading and writing skills. These stand-alone workshops are a more flexible option than the English Language Support Programme and may be better suited to undergraduate students.

The Speaking and Listening for English Language Learners workshops provide opportunities for students to practise conversation and discussion with native and non-native English speakers.

Giving an Oral Presentation helps students to improve public speaking and presentation skills. This  workshop is open to all UC students but is particularly useful for English language learners. 

Students who wish to improve their written English may also benefit from attending The Writing Process and Making Sentences Work.

Check out other ASC workshops.


Students can book one-to-one consultations with a learning advisor to discuss their written assignments. Topics covered in consultations include analysing essay questions, essay and report structure, thesis structure, grammar and punctuation, and referencing. Consultations are held at the Academic Skills Centre, Level 3, Puaka-James Hight Library or via ZOOM.

To book a one-to-one consultation, phone (03) 369 3900 or email


Download Succeeding at University in New Zealand: An Academic Guide for International Students

The Academic Skills Centre offers courses and workshops designed to meet the particular needs of honours and postgraduate students.

Academic skills for honours students and taught masters's students

Study at Honours and Master’s levels is characterised by greater depth and higher academic expectations. The Academic Skills Centre would like to help ensure that you have the skills you will need to succeed. We offer a number of workshops which address topics relevant to students undertaking post-graduate coursework degrees.

This course is offered in Term 1 and again in the week before the commencement of Term 3. More info and enrolment

Academic skills for thesis writers

This series of seminars is aimed specifically at students ‒ master’s and doctoral levels ‒ who are writing a thesis. These sessions together comprise a single course, however, you can choose to attend only those sessions that you will find useful.

Academic Skills for Thesis Writers is offered in the summer and at other times during the year. More info and enrolment

“I found all of the Academic Skills Centre seminars outstanding: positive, enthusiastic presenters, high standard of presentation, plentiful supply of relevant information provided, excellent inclusion of class members and entertaining too.
Thank you. The experience was very valuable for a mature student returning to university study after a number of years out in the workforce.” --- Terrelle

Diagnostic Writing Assessment (DWA)

The Academic Skills Centre will run Diagnostic Writing Assessment (DWA) for postgraduate students whose first language is not English. These assessments provide an opportunity for students to receive tailored writing advice early in the thesis writing process. If your supervisor refers you to enrol, you will sit a short written assessment and receive detailed written and verbal feedback. This feedback is aimed at giving you a clear plan regarding which Academic Skills Centre services will be most useful as you continue on your thesis journey.

More info and enrolment

Kick-start your research

These sessions are intended to help new postgraduate researchers get started and gain momentum early in their study at UC. If you are in the early stages of a Master’s or PhD thesis, you are warmly invited to attend the next “Kick-start your research” workshop. Speakers will share top tips and answer your questions, and will include representatives from Pokapū Pūkenga Ako | Academic Skills Centre, Te Kura Tāura | UC Graduate School and Ngā Puna Mātauraka  Ako | UC Library. Find out more information and enrol here.

Other relevant workshops

Making Sentences Work, Giving an Oral Presentation, The Writing Process and Proofreading Your Final Draft might also be instructive.  These can all be found on the ASC Workshops page

If English is not your first language, three courses ‒ English Language Support, Speaking and Listening, and Reading and Writing for English Language Learners ‒ are designed to help you strengthen your English language skills.

You are welcome to use other ASC services and resources.

The Adult Students' Programme is a series of three tutorials offered as extra tuition to help first-year adult students gain an insight into university culture and achieve academic success.

The weekly meetings during the term time provide an opportunity to have regular contact with a small group of first-year adult students, to learn university skills that will help raise grades, and to make a smooth transition to university studies.

Tutor: Jacqui Tither

Course Outline Adult Students (PDF 210KB)

  • Critical thinking
    Critical thinking is an essential process required for all university assessment. This session will cover the important skills of independent thinking, the techniques of debating a point and drawing conclusions.
  • Maximising your reading time
    Would you like to improve your reading techniques? This session will discuss the reading process and present techniques for identifying and improving your reading speed; adjusting your reading technique to suit particular purposes; and learning effectively from written sources (including journal articles, books, and textbooks)
  • Reading to understand difficult academic texts
    Have you ever read a page of text and then wondered what it was all about? In this session, students will become aware of the writer’s structural cues that indicate where the most relevant meaning lies, and will learn how sifting for significance leads to comprehensive understanding of a difficult passage.

Even if the programme is fully booked, it is likely there will be space on the day, so feel free to turn up. If you would like to be notified when this lecture is next scheduled, request it at a different time or day, or just find out more, email Jacqui.

Te Puna Manawa/PASS Academic Skills programmes are run in liaison with the UC Māori and Pacific Development Teams (PDT) and considers the cultural and contextual component of writing and reading practices for Māori and Pacific Island students. The programmes are offered throughout the year, including formal study skills workshops  covering essay/report structures, critical thinking and constructing an argument, clarity, syntax, punctuation and layout. These programmes also include individual and group sessions, where students can receive more specialised tuition in addressing the deeper language, literacy and discourse issues pertaining to specific disciplines.


Individual consultations

Consultations are up to 40 minutes long and can cover any questions relating to writing, critical thinking or study. Here are some examples of the types of questions that students ask:

·         Have I answered the question?

·         How do I take effective notes in lectures or from my readings?

·         Would you check the grammar in this essay? (We will explain any errors, but we do not proofread entire assignments.)

Consultations are held at the Academic Skills Centre, Level 3, Puaka-James Hight (Central Library) and are offered fortnightly. If you are bringing written work, print it in a 12-point font with double spacing. Also, please bring the handout with the essay question and any other relevant materials.

To book a one-to-one consultation with Emma Maurice or one of our awesome Academic Advisors, contact us on (03) 369 3900 or

Group Sessions

PASS workshops:

Week 2 – Thursday 25th July – Fale

  • Focus: general queries e.g. Learn support, library services

Week 3 – Thursday 1st August – TBC

  • Focus: on assignment preparation – referencing, notetaking

Week 9 – Thursday 26th September – Fale

  • Focus: exam preparation, study skills, notetaking/summary etc.

Week 10 – Thursday 3rd October - TBC

  • Focus on exam preparation

UC Māori Student sessions:

Weekly Drop-in sessions

·         Mondays, 2:00-4.30pm at Te Whare o Te Akatoki

·         Fridays, 9:00-11:00 am in Te Ao Marama Foyer

The Academic Skills Centre offers one-to-one consultations for distance students by phone and Zoom. You can book a 40 minute appointment by following these steps:

  • Contact ASC by email: Please include in your email a contact telephone number (NZ based students), some dates/times that will suit you for a distance appointment.
  • Email your work from your university email address to your assigned advisor before 8 am on the appointment day, along with specific questions or concerns that you have. Please include the essay/assignment question if you have one.
  • The advisor will send you a Zoom link in advance (unless you prefer phone). In the appointment, you and the advisor will work through the issues that you have both identified in your draft. Be ready to take notes and have your questions prepared!
  • The total time of your appointment, including reading, will be 40 minutes. You are welcome to make an appointment as often as every two weeks for up to eight appointments per year.

Distance Quick Queries 

ASC also offers distance students quick query support. Quick queries can be anything on writing or study that can be answered in up to 10 minutes. A short query can be emailed to the general ASC email address,, or phone us on (03) 3693900 or toll-free 0800 VARSITY (827 748) and ask for the Academic Skills Centre. Your question will be answered at the next on call session (Monday–Friday, 11am–2pm; in summer and teaching breaks, 1pm–2pm).

We look forward to hearing from you!

Extended Hours Service

ASC extended hours

Both distance and face to face appointments will be available between the hours of 5.00-7.00 pm,in the last 3 weeks of the term. Priority is given to distance and full-time working students.

To make an appointment:

Visit: Academic Skills Centre, Level 3, Puaka-James Hight (Central Library) 

Phone: +64 3 369 3900


A significant portion of our work supports the work of academic staff, both within scheduled courses and by means of additional services. For the latter, lecturers and supervisors may refer students to ASC, or students can seek assistance for themselves.

Embedded teaching

ASC can provide discipline- and course-specific sessions tailored to the skills and learning objectives identified by the lecturer as necessary for student success. Research shows that this kind of targeted skills training is particularly effective for enhancing students’ learning and performance.

Embedded teaching can take place either during scheduled course time or as supplementary classes. These classes can be customised to the needs of students in any course, from first year to postgraduate study. A sample of recent embedded teaching includes:

  • Effective note-taking for Biology
  • Critical thinking and reading for Health Sciences
  • Essay writing for Law
  • Academic writing and integrating evidence for Psychology
  • Advanced oral presentation skills for Accounting
  • Report and thesis writing for Computer Science
  • Writing a literature review for Human Services
  • Time management for Youth and Community Leadership
  • Writing short answer and essay answers in Business exams
  • Common sentence errors for Electrical Engineering

Workshops and seminars

ASC offers workshops and seminars throughout the year on topics such as essay writing, grammar, note-taking, avoiding plagiarism, paraphrasing, time management and exam preparation. Most are suitable for all students, while some are targeted to specific student cohorts such as postgraduates, non-native English speakers, Māori and Pasifika students, and adult students.

ASC takes a flexible approach to delivery of our workshop content. Depending on the circumstances of the university (for instance, Covid-19 alert levels) and students (on-campus, distance, or offshore), workshops may be run face-to-face in our classroom and/or livestreamed. In addition, a variety of workshop materials such as videos, handouts and PowerPoint slides are available on our Learn page.


Students, whether campus-based or distance learners, can also book one-on-one appointments with learning advisors to get advice on their written work or presentations. ASC’s focus is on helping students become skilled thinkers and writers who have the ability to improve their own work. While this direct feedback is beneficial at all levels of study, it can be particularly valuable for postgraduate students who are navigating the complexities of thesis-level work.

While most of our consultations are held between 9am–5pm, we are also available on selected days between 5pm–7pm during term time to cater for working and offshore students.

Quick Queries

We offer a 10-minute drop-in service for students who have questions that don’t require a full appointment. It is available Monday–Friday, from 11am–2pm during term time and 1pm–2pm during term breaks.

Diagnostic writing assessment for thesis students

ASC provides targeted support for postgraduate students enrolled in research master’s and PhD programmes. If students need help with developing academic writing skills, their supervisors can direct them to enrol in the Diagnostic Writing Assessment for Thesis Students (DWA). The DWA is available in two streams: one for native English speakers and one for students with English as a second or additional language (ESL). Students enrolled in the programme receive detailed written feedback on their writing and a consultation with an ASC Learning Advisor to develop a learning plan, which may include recommendations for attendance at ASC workshops and/or further appointments with a Learning Advisor. 

Supervisors will receive a copy of the written feedback, including all recommendations, and periodic updates on the student’s engagement with ASC in the first year following enrolment. We believe it is important to work alongside supervisors to support thesis students’ academic writing, and strongly encourage any self-referring students to consult with supervisors before enrolling in the DWA. 

More information on the DWA, including links for enrolment and dates for upcoming assessment, can be found HERE.

Distance learners

Distance learners have access to a range of ASC services too. We offer embedded sessions within courses where students are required to spend time on campus, and individual students are encouraged to schedule one-on-one telephone or Zoom consultations. See the Distance students tab (above) for more information on the full range of services available.

Accessing ASC assistance

All ASC services are available free of charge. If you would like to discuss adding an embedded session to a course, it is advisable to email us at least a month in advance to ensure staff availability. Please indicate:

  • The course and level
  • The academic skills you would like covered
  • Possible dates and time
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