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Course content

Writing is an essential part of scientific work. Scientists are required to write dissertations, reports, essays, articles and grant applications. In addition, the communication of scientific ideas to a non-scientific audience is an important skill often neglected by scientists. Much scientific writing is verbose and incorrect, and we, as scientists, often take it for granted that difficult ideas must be expressed in obscure and complicated language. However, the best scientists are able to express complicated ideas in crystal-clear language. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles of good writing in general, with a focus on science writing. While the course will be taught in English, and the texts and exercises will be in English, the emphasis will be on good writing habits, which apply to any language. The course is not a course on technical writing, but rather will aim to develop good writing, editing, and journalistic skills.
The course will be in the form of 2-hour workshops. The following topics will be covered: Drafts, revisions, the structure of specific types of writing (scientific articles, essays, summaries) and writing for non-scientist readers. The course will discuss general points of style, sentence construction, voice and tense.

Learning outcome

By means of workshops, writing exercises, and mutual feedback, students will practice different types of science writing. Students will learn to edit and shorten long texts without losing content, to write a brief article on any given scientific topic, to write scientific pieces for a non-scientific readership, and to express scientific ideas clearly and concisely.


PhD candidates from the University of Oslo should apply for classes and register for examinations through Studentweb.

If a course has limited intake capacity, priority will be given to PhD candidates who follow an individual education plan where this particular course is included. Some national researchers’ schools may have specific rules for ranking applicants for courses with limited intake capacity.

PhD candidates who have been admitted to another higher education institution must apply for a position as a visiting student within a given deadline.

The courses BIO4600 and BIO9600 have common admission. Applicants are ranked by the following criteria:
1. PhD students and master students at the MN faculty who have the course as part of the approved curriculum.
2. Other PhD students and visiting PhD students.
3. Students with admission to single courses on master’s level and exchange students
4. Applicants are ranked by credits in each group; all applicants within 1st rank before applicants in 2nd etc. If admission is limited to a fixed number of participants, admission will be decided by drawing lots for students who are ranked equally


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.

Overlapping courses

5 credits overlap with BIO4600 - Science Writing


The course will be taught in the form of 2-hour workshops every day for one week. The workshops are mandatory, and the students are expected to work fulltime with this course for the whole week. The first hour will consist of a lecture and discussion of a topic, while the second hour will be devoted to discussion of the students’ own writing. Each week the students will mark and discuss the work of two or three other students, so at the end of the course each student will have substantial feedback from their peers for his/her work. The short exercises will be done during the course, and two final assignments. One 1500 word artcle, and one 750 word "kronikk"-style article.


The assessment will be based on the completion of 3 short pieces (500 words) during the course, and two longer, final, assignments. One article(1500 words) and one "Kronikk"-style article (750 words).

Students will be expected to complete ALL writing assignments on time, and attendance every day will be required.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring

The course is not given spring 2016


Every spring

Teaching language