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Higher Education students in Vietnam are increasingly expected to write in English for university and professional purposes. This study identified the written texts in English that postgraduates had written for university purposes and explored their perceptions of or attitudes towards these. Using a classification of university genres developed from the British Academic Written English (BAWE) Corpus, ten case study students showed how their experiences of genres at lower levels of education had been heavily standardised. At undergraduate levels, English-major students and students studying in English-medium instruction were expected to write a wider variety of genres. At postgraduate levels, however, students from all subject areas were also required to write some genres, especially scientific research reports in English. Students’ attitudes towards assignments were influenced by effort and achievement levels, and the extent to which they felt prepared to write the type of text required. A number of key writing challenges were identified by students via self-reports and think-aloud protocol methods. Many students felt unprepared to write the genres expected of them, including the need for academic vocabulary and critical thinking. Findings indicated that non-English major postgraduate students (especially those enrolled on science-based courses) could benefit from a genre-sensitive pedagogy at late undergraduate or early postgraduate level.