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Indiana University Bloomington

Course Descriptions

W131 Elementary Composition (3 Cr.)

W131 is a course in academic writing that attempts to integrate critical reading, thinking, and writing about phenomena and issues in our culture. Rather than practicing a set of discrete skills or often unrelated modes of discourse, the course aims to build sequentially on students’ ability to read both written and cultural texts closely and critically and to analyze those texts in ways that also engage and problematize students' own experience, the perspectives of "experts," and the world they live in.

W131 aims to show students how the use of sources, agreement/disagreement, and personal response can be made to serve independent, purposeful, and well-supported analytical writing.

In summary, the course offers instruction and practice in the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills required in college. Emphasis is on written assignments that require synthesis, analysis, and argument based on sources.

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W131 Elementary Composition - Basic Writing

The Composition program offers several sections of W131-Basic Writing (BW) each semester as well. In most important respects, the BW version of W131 is no different from other versions of W131: like other versions, the BW sections provide instruction and practice in the fundamental reading and writing skills required in college, emphasizing written assignments that require synthesis, analysis, and argument based on sources. In other respects, however, the BW version of W131 offers eligible students several advantages. For one, BW sections are considerably smaller than other W131 sections to allow for greater interaction between instructor and student. To this end, all BW sections are taught by experienced instructors who are committed to working closely with students. Eligibility to enroll in the Basic Writing sections of W131 is dependent on the student’s reported ACT English or SAT Verbal scores. Most eligible students have been identified by UDIV advising and have already been authorized, however, students who suspect they should be placed into a Basic Writing section of W131 but are blocked from enrollment should contact their advisor to determine eligibility and submit a request via our online permission form for consent to register. For more information, students may also contact:

Hayley Rollins
Composition Program Secretary
(812) 855-1359
Department of English; Ballantine Hall 442

Eligibility is based on the following guidelines:

ACT ENGLISH 1-21 or SAT Critical Reading 200-460

ACT ENGLISH 22 or SAT Critical Reading 470-480
Basic Writing Recommended

Note: The Basic Writing section fulfills the English composition requirement. There is nothing that appears on a student’s transcript to indicate that a BW section was taken rather than some other version of W131.

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W131 Elementary Composition - Multilingual

ENG W131ML is designed for those students whose core educational backgrounds occurred in languages other than English. Like other sections of ENG W131, this course offers rigorous instruction in understanding college-level writing and research as a multivocal process. It bears the same amount of credit, requires the same amount of writing, and places the same emphasis on critical thinking, analytical writing, and synthesis as does ENG W131; but it encourages students to gain lexical knowledge in a particular issue or topic area, equips them to become more independent writers of English, and provides them with the opportunity to focus on specific linguistic concerns.

ENG W131ML also offers students a smaller class size and a setting that gives extra attention to learning the conventions related to academic writing in western traditions, as well as opportunities to consider how those conventions function cross-culturally.

Most international students will be immediately eligible to enroll in this course based on a combination of factors, including prior language instruction and TOEFL or IELTS scores. However, if you are not immediately eligible and are seeking permission to enroll, then please consult the Directed Self-Placement Guide and submit a request via our online permission form for consent to register.

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W143 Interdisciplinary Study of Expository Writing (1 cr.)

The study of writing in conjunction with a discipline outside English language and literature. Credit for this course will be available to students who enroll in special sections of non-English introductory courses that include a writing component. May be repeated once for credit.

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W170 Projects in Reading and Writing (3 cr.)

W170 represents an alternative to W131, satisfying the freshman composition requirement but designed to offer more intensive writing and reading instruction around some theme or question. Open to all freshmen, it typically attracts those who are slightly more serious about reading and writing and more comfortable assuming a greater responsibility for their own learning.

As a reading and writing course, W170 has essentially the same goals as W131. Both courses assume that students will write analytical, argumentative, and investigative academic essays based on sources and that they will take their papers through a full cycle of drafting and revising.

At the same time, while W131 and W170 share goals, there are some differences of emphasis between the two courses:

In W131, the focus is on academic writing in response to various cultural issues and phenomena. Thus, much of the course is organized around strategies of analysis and argument, with readings on various topics serving as material for observation, thinking, and writing.

In W170, the focus is on sustained inquiry (i.e., reading, writing, and critical thinking) concerning a single problem or topic that lasts throughout the semester. Thus, the course is organized around a broad question or problem and various strategies for analysis, argument, and research are taught when they are relevant for the conduct of the inquiry.

Fall 2015 Topic Descriptions

For Fall 2015 course descriptions, please see the Undergraduate Course Descriptions.

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W202 English Grammar Review (1 cr.)

This 1 credit, eight-week course will provide a basic understanding of grammatical terms and principles sufficient to enable students to edit their own prose with confidence. Despite the course title, no prior knowledge of grammar will be assumed or required. No authorization is required for this course. Does not count in the major or minor.

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W231 Professional Writing Skills (3 cr.)

This course is designed to help students, in any field, develop writing and research skills which will be useful in the professional world and any future writing project. This course concentrates on the writing of concise, informative prose, and emphasizes the importance of writing with a clearly defined purpose and audience.

Assignments will be based on general principles of communication but will usually take the form of writing done in the world of work: letters, memos, summaries, and abstracts, reports, proposals, etc.

Students will often be able to write on subjects related to their field of study. The course requires constant, careful attention to writing and rewriting, and many classes will be conducted as workshops, with writing exercises and detailed discussion of the work of class members.


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W240 Community Service Writing (3 cr.)

Integrates service with learning to develop research and writing skills requisite for most academic and professional activities. Students volunteer at a community service agency, write an assignment for public use by the agency, and perform course work culminating in a research paper on a related social issue.


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W270 Argumentative Writing (3 cr.)

Offers instruction and practice in writing argumentative essays about complicated and controversial issues. The course focuses on strategies for identifying issues, assessing claims, locating evidence, deciding on a position, and writing papers with clear assertions and convincing arguments.


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W280 Literary Editing and Publishing (3 cr.)

Principles of editing and publishing literary writing. Kinds of journals, varieties of formats (including print and e-zine), introduction to editing and production processes. Possible focus on genre publishing (fiction, poetry, non-fiction prose), grant writing, Web publishing, etc. May not be repeated for credit.


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W321 Advanced Technical Writing: Visual Literacy and Document Design (3 cr.)

This course investigates the rhetorical principles that inform the composition and design of effective professional writing.


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W350 Advanced Expository Writing (3 cr.)

Advanced writing course focuses on the interconnected activities of writing and reading, especially the kinds of responding, analyzing, and evaluating that characterize work in many fields in the university. Topics vary from semester to semester.


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