Writing Attractive Cover Letters

Course Information

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019,
    9:00 AM till 12:00 PM
  • Registration Opens
    August 7, 2019, 9:00 AM
    Registration Deadline
    September 11, 2019
    Course Fees
    This course is free of charge and for doctoral candidates and postdocs of the University of Basel only (min. 6, max. 14 participants).
    Dr. Riana Paola
    Organized by

    Language Center of the University of Basel
    Homepage Sprachenzentrum

    in collaboration with

    Graduate Center
    Transferable Skills
    GRACE Homepage


    Cover letters that spark interest are one of the keys that pave the way to obtaining job interviews: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Composing an attractive cover letter requires you to strike the right balance between promoting your unique value to a potential employer and explicating the reasons why the company or research institute you are applying to is a perfect fit for you. The workshop is aimed at PhD candidates who wish to train their ability to write a cover letter that complements their CV and other application documents.


    • Content: The structure and content of various parts of a cover letter for a job application
    • Attending to language conventions in cover letters
    • Personalizing the letter for each application
    • Highlighting your achievements and skills without sounding arrogant
    • Conciseness: Keeping the letter no longer than one page
    • Reviewing and customising participants’ own cover letters, both by peers and the lecturer

    In addition to these core points, any issues identified in participants’ own writing may be addressed.


    The task-based workshop will include input on cover letter writing, language use and tailoring the cover letter to the job description. A handout will be distributed. Participants will work on their own drafts and review each other’s letters. The teacher will provide advice and review participants’ letters.

    Target Group

    Doctoral Candidates & Postdocs


    Participants agree to provide written peer review for one fellow participant during and after the workshop.

    About the Trainer

    Dr. Riana Paola-Roos holds a D. Litt. et Phil. degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She has taught English in various educational institutions and companies in Switzerland, England and South Africa. Within the field of linguistics and language teaching, she has published and is particularly interested in Academic English and English for Specific Purposes. She offers courses in writing for publication in the Natural Sciences as well as thesis writing courses at the Language Center of the University of Basel.


    Pre-workshop preparation:
    Participants write, upload and bring to the workshop an unedited first draft of a letter of application that will be reviewed during the course. Having a copy of a job advertisement for a position the participant would like to apply for is also recommended, as the cover letters can then be tailored to that specific position.
    Workload: 1-2 hours

    Time spent in the workshop: 3 hours

    Participants will have the opportunity to submit their revised cover letters to the teacher for comments and corrections. This part is not obligatory.


    This course is in collaboration with the Language Center of the University of Basel. The training is at no tuition cost and reserved for doctoral candidates of the University of Basel. Course policy and registration are according to the regulations of the Language Center of the University of Basel.


    Sprachenzentrum der Universität Basel Totentanz 17, 4051 Basel


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