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Getting help with your writing

The Department of English has developed a range of simple resources to help anyone improve the quality of their writing. The advice is intended not just to help with academic work but also fiction, journalism and all forms of prose.

There are also a range of other options available at the Department to help you improve your writing.

Writing Resources to help you improve your writing

Book an appointment with the University Writing Centre

The Writing and Skills Centre is a free service, based in the Harry Fairhurst Building (LFA/102), open to all undergraduate and taught postgraduate students interested in discussing and developing their academic writing.

They offer one-to-one appointments during which they help you work on all aspects of academic writing. They are open throughout the Easter holiday period via online support.  

Book an appointment

Support for students with specific learning difficulties

Royal Literary Fund Fellows

Penny Boxall is an award-winning poet whose work draws on her career in museums. Her first collection, Ship of the Line (Eyewear, 2014/Valley Press, 2018), is a cabinet of curiosities, reassembling historical lives from overlooked objects. It won the Edwin Morgan poetry award, Scotland’s largest poetry prize, in 2016. Who Goes There? followed from Valley Press in 2018. Again, historical eccentrics dominated, alongside a developing personal tone and a variety of narrative masks. Her current work, Lights Out, is more inward-searching still, marking a deepening interest in voice. It won awards from the Authors’ Foundation and New Writing North (2019). Penny’s latest project, A Book of Moss, is a narrative drawing on the life of Victorian botanist and moss expert Richard Spruce. It examines obsession and loneliness through a 19th-century lens.  Penny’s collaboration with woodblock artist Naoko Matsubara, In Praise of Hands, will be published by the Ashmolean. She has held a number of residencies, including a visiting research fellowship in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford, and fellowships at Hawthornden Castle, Chateau de Lavigny and Cove Park. Her poem ‘A Wedding List’ won the 2018 Mslexia/PBS international women’s poetry competition.  

After graduating from UEA with an MA in Creative Writing, Penny worked for museums including the Ashmolean, the Royal Collection, the Wordsworth Trust and the Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall. She has taught on the Poetry MA at Oxford Brookes and for the Poetry School. Having lived in Oxford for several years, she now lives in York.

Penny is available for appointments on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in term time and some weeks of the vacation (see below). Her email address is

During the 2021/22 academic year Penny can book students into one-to-one appointments throughout Autumn and Spring Terms and from Weeks 1-7 in Summer Term;  additionally, Penny is available to support students with their academic writing at key vacation crunch points, in Weeks 11 & 12 of Autumn Term (7-8 December; 14-15 December) and for two weeks of the Easter vacation (5-6 April, 12-13 April).

Please note that, as long as Government and University guidelines allow it, appointments will normally be face-to-face, but Penny has some remote availability for students who have a compelling reason not to be able to come to campus. 

Masks: so long as concerns about Covid continue, students are asked to wear masks for face-to-face appointments and Penny will wear one too.

The Royal Literary Fund Fellows' office is D/L/140, Derwent L Block.

Please note that there is sometimes a great demand for these meetings. Be sure that when you make an appointment you are able to keep it.

A student perspective

Hear from some students about how working with the Royal Literary Fund Fellows improved their writing.

FellowshipsStudentPerspective from Royal Literary Fund on Vimeo.