What do the CSS (Communication Support Services) do?
We offer consultation sessions, group workshops and discussions to help UGC-funded students improve their English outside of class – for free! You can find more about this here.
How do I use the booking system and what are the booking rules?
For more details on how to use our booking system and our rules, click here.
How long are your sessions? How much do I have to prepare?
Standard one-to-one consultations are 30 minutes long, where you should upload your work beforehand for the tutor to review. Our workshops and discussions last an hour and usually do not require any preparation beforehand.
We also hold various other events throughout the year (such as information sessions and pop-up workshops). Please keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram pages for more details nearer the time.
Are your services right for me?
CSS is available to all UGC-funded students (undergraduate and postgraduate), regardless of ability level. If you feel you are really struggling with your English skills, you may ask your teacher to refer you to our General Language Advising unit instead.
On the other hand, if your assignment is on an advanced disciplinary topic, you may find it more beneficial to choose a Writing Centre tutor based on the discipline in their profile bio before booking a time slot with us.
How many workshops/ discussions & consultation sessions can I book?
You can book two consultations per week per unit (e.g. two for the Speaking Studio, and two for the Writing Centre, …).
Workshops and discussions are more lenient, since you can also walk in easily if they are not fully booked (we can host up to a maximum of 18 students per workshop or discussion; once this limit is reached, the time slot will turn grey on the booking system).
We release our weekly timetable schedules 2 weeks in advance (usually at the weekends), so check early if you wish to secure a session!
So, I can upload my work before a consultation session?
Yes; regardless of the unit with which you’ve booked your consultation, there will be an option to upload documents and give guiding comments (e.g. what you wish to discuss or which part of your work do you wish to focus on during the session) to your tutor by clicking on your booked time slot on the booking system timetable.
Useful documents you may upload include: assessment instructions; the rubric or marking criteria for your assessment; your planning notes or draft assignment; and relevant reading lists.
The booking system accepts PDF & Word files up to a maximum size of 10MB. If you have files that fall outside of these limits (such as an audio recording of your group presentation, for a Speaking Studio consultation), you should upload these externally somewhere and then paste a link in the comments box on the booking system (hint: your Connect Google Drive has unlimited storage space!). Do make sure you adjust the sharing settings accordingly, so we can access your file(s)!
How far in advance should I upload my work?
You are suggested to upload any files to the booking system at least 2 working days in advance (Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays). This means that you should upload files for a Monday consultation on Thursday at the latest!
Note that if a file is uploaded any later than this, the tutor may not have time to read it before the session. In such cases, you and your consultant will not be able to discuss your writing as thoroughly as if you had uploaded your text ahead of time, and your tutor may need to use some of the consultation time to read your work. This will be at your tutor’s discretion.
How much of my written work can I upload for my tutor to look at before a consultation?
How much your tutor can read before a consultation depends on how many issues there are in the text. There is no specific word count or page restriction, but around 8 pages of double-spaced text for a 30 minute consultation is the upper limit. If your work is longer than this, please plan ahead to make a couple of visits. In order for your tutor to have time to read your work, upload at least 2 working days (Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays) before your scheduled consultation, and don’t make changes to the file once you’ve shared the link. It will also be very helpful if you can specify the issues you wish to focus on in the comment box on the booking system.
Can I come back with the same piece of work?
In principle, this is allowed if we can see clear evidence that there has been some progress between the current and last time that you came to see us. However, this is not advised if it’s during the peak time, or if the comments from your consultant from previous sessions are not incorporated.
If tutors won’t ‘proofread’ my work then what should I expect out of a consultation session?
Tutors do not proofread or edit your work because this would make the tutor a co-author. Besides, lots of computer software exists for this purpose already! Often when we are looking at your work, we are checking for higher order issues which a computer cannot detect easily. Nevertheless, we are happy to highlight major issues in your writing, and advise you on how to improve your language usage, in order to help you take better charge of your own work and become more autonomous.
Can I still come to Writing Centre consultations even if I haven’t written down anything yet?
Yes! We can guide you through the brainstorming and planning process. Prior to a consultation, you can upload your assignment instructions, as well as any notes that you might have made, for your tutor to see.
What happens if I’m unable to make it to my booked consultation/ workshop/ discussion session?
Since our sessions are limited, please cancel any unwanted time slots at least 24 hours in advance of the start time, so that another student may take your place.
There is an automatic ban in place if you miss 2 booked consultations or workshops/ discussions without prior cancellation; you will then be unable to attend that type of session for the rest of the semester. This system is in place to keep things fair for the other students!
In the event of a legitimate reason that prevents you from cancelling at least 24 hours in advance (such as illness), your booking reminder email will inform you of who to contact.
Can I book a workshop/ discussion or consultation session for a friend?
In short, no. You will need your UID number when using our booking system, and we have the right to turn you away if you do not bring that UID with you to your booked session. We only serve UGC-funded students.
For group essays or assignments, it is at the tutor’s discretion whether to serve you if you bring the same assignment to multiple consultations but there have been minimal changes between each session.
Group presentations are fine, so long as the session is booked by someone in your group and they bring their UID with them to the consultation.
I am a student of a self-funded, taught masters program. Why can’t I book consultations, workshops, and discussions in the CSS online system?
CSS programs are operated purely on UGC funds. We therefore can only serve students of UGC-funded programs (i.e., undergraduate, full-time MPhil & PhD, and government-funded taught masters). Self-funded taught masters students are advised to contact their department for support.
I am an RPG and I want to book two consecutive 30-minute consultations (i.e., effectively a one-hour consultation), but the system won’t let me. Why?
Our system identifies who is a full-time, UGC-funded RPG based on information provided by the Graduate School. If our system does not allow you to book an hour-long session, it is because we cannot verify that you are a full-time UGC-funded RPG student.
Makes sense. So, how do I book a workshop/ discussion/ consultation session?
Please read the booking rules before you book a session – see you soon!