The purpose of this article is to demonstrate and account for the weak emergence of ‘voice’ in the writing of students embarking upon their postgraduate studies in Geosciences. The two elements of ‘voice’ that are emphasised are ‘voice’ as style of expression and ‘voice’ as the ability to write distinctly, yet building upon previous knowledge.Two cycles of writing by two groups of students were tested for ‘voice’ by using a scale especially designed for this purpose. Findings based on the first cycle revealed that few students were writing at the expected level. Accounting for these findings involved an analysis of high school and undergraduate writing experiences. Findings after the second cycle showed very little improvement despite the comprehensive support given to the writers.‘Voice’ is a crucial element in academic writing, yet difficult to conceptualise and to teach. Ongoing research on voice is considered essential for the students and the discipline.