This exploratory research focuses on a one-semester subject designed to facilitate deliberate practice while explicitly aiming to develop postgraduate students’ basic research skills: academic writing and its co-requisite skill, critical thinking. The research considers the alignment of the curriculum and assessment design of the subject ‘Research and Communication Skills for the Natural Sciences’ (SC5055) with the RSD framework. The research then identifies students who benefit most from a focus on the development of research and communication skills. The impact of SC5055 on students’ achievement and their ability to self-evaluate the development of their skills and understanding is also explored.