This SEDA Special looks at the development and assessment of oral skills in Higher Education, focusing on the shy fresher through to the PhD candidate. The collection is a mixture of short, sharp pieces exploring various practices and successful strategies, which colleagues might like to alter and develop for their own context, and longer more reflective research and/or evidence-based essays that consider strategies in practice over time. It considers a variety of learning and teaching practices and strategies related to underpinning learning and teaching theories. It also provides some opportunity to speculate on what skills are to be learnt and how we might ensure that there are explicit criteria for their assessment, appropriately managed and observed by a variety of colleagues. It is intended to be useful for colleagues in a variety of subject areas and different roles in Higher Education, whether lecturers or learning and teaching advisers, staff developers or learning support colleagues.