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Writing for maths and sciences

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

If you’re coming to study for a degree in Maths or Science, you may be thinking that guidance on writing assignments isn’t going to be relevant to you. Perhaps you’ve been used to simply writing up equations, or brief descriptive accounts of experiments. However, you are likely to find that you’re expected to write more at university level.

In fact, you may be asked to write essays, literature reviews or short discussion pieces, as well as longer project reports and dissertations. Even when you’re writing up your solutions to maths problems, or a descriptive account of a laboratory practical, you’ll need to think about your writing skills. That might mean:

  • being more careful about explaining what you’re doing and why
  • following writing conventions
  • drawing conclusions about the data you’ve collected
  • building in references from your reading.

The first step is always to read the instructions for your assignment carefully, and make sure you understand exactly what you’re being asked to do.

This guide includes some basic guidance on writing for maths and the sciences, plus more details on specific tasks you may be asked to do.