English 1130: Academic Writing


Dr. Roger Clark, Fall 2019

Section 050 (32096): Tuesday 6:30-9:20, Room S 2680

Section 054 (32803): Wednesday 6:30-9:20, Room S 2802

Welcome to English 1130! This section explores writing from various rhetorical and critical perspectives. We’ll be analyzing a wide variety of writing and media — essays, scholarly articles, trailers, TV and film clips, etc. We’ll also focus on the shift from print and television culture to Internet culture. The term is divided into three parts: rhetoric, evaluation, and research. 80% of your mark will be based on three essays.

Office Hours: Room S 2806E

Wednesday: 5:30-6:20 drop in. Tuesday and Thursday: 5:30-6:20 by appointment. I may also be able to meet at other times during these days.  


clarkr@douglascollege.ca or ryoclark@gmail.com (I check my gmail more often). Please make sure to identify yourself by 1) your first and last name, 2) the course name, and 3) the day and time of the class. For example: "Robin Smith, Academic Writing, T/R afternoon." I teach about 120 students per term and don’t always have my class lists with me.

Course Description & Goals

In this section of English 1130 we'll focus on 1) rhetoric, 2) evaluation, and 3) research. You'll be required to write three complete academic essays, attend class, and participate in group work and peer editing (see "Marks" below).

In general, this course aims to improve critical thinking, academic writing skills, and research abilities. To think critically involves 1) rhetorical analysis — looking at forms of communication and figuring out their aim and structure structure, 2) evaluative analysis — figuring out whether or not communication makes sense, and 3) research — examining ideas in light of other ideas, arguments, contexts, and considerations. Critical thinking also involves coming up with your own arguments and counter-arguments.

There’s considerable overlap between rhetoric, evaluation, and research: an understanding of rhetoric (how and why we shape communication) is required in evaluation and research; in-depth evaluation requires research; and in doing research we must evaluate claims, sources, arguments, and evidence.

You’ll write three essays, all in the traditional academic essay format: — The introduction takes your reader from a general state of awareness to your particular subject. — The thesis statement tells the reader exactly what you’ll be saying about your subject; it presents your overall argument in a condensed form. — The topic sentences show your reader how each subsidiary point you are making advances your overall argument. — The conclusion highlights your overall point, and either completes any scenario you developed in your introduction or suggests further avenues of enquiry. 

Increasingly, the quality of your research will be central to the arguments you make. In the first essay you’ll look at a primary source. In the second essay you’ll use a variety of primary and secondary sources. In the third essay you’ll find your own scholarly sources and use them to support your own original argument. You can document your sources in MLA or APA style.

Course Materials

You'll need 1) online course information at ryc.space, 2) the course pack: English 1130: Academic Writing (you can buy this at the bookstore; look for my name and the section number), and 3) access to the Internet. Netflix may also be very helpful. 

You may want to consult the open online Composition and Literature: A Handbook and Anthology, especially its helpful list of terms in Appendix A: Glossary of English Rhetoric, Grammar, and Usage. You may also want to buy Everyone’s An Author (Second Edition, Norton, 2016) since it is very much in line with the rhetorical approach I take in this course. There’s no assigned grammar book, since this course doesn’t deal with grammar; it deals with argument, rhetoric, evaluation, and research. For those who need a refresher on grammar and basic writing, see Appendix A: Glossary of English Rhetoric, Grammar, and Usage, or the Purdue University grammar section, or Everyone’s An Author (Chapters 31 and 32). On this site Marking has sample expression errors and corrections, as well as abbreviations used in marking. Note that the information on this site supersedes any information you may find on other sites or books. In general this isn’t an issue, yet it may be an issue when it comes to marks.


25 %:  Essay # 1 (rhetoric)          

30 %:  Essay # 2 (evaluation)

10%:  3 peer edits

25 %:  Essay # 3 (research)

10 %:  Participation

A+ = 95-100% = flawless or nearly flawless  A = 90-94%  =  exceptional  A- = 85-89% = excellent

B+ = 80-84% = extremely good  B = 75-79% = very good  B- = 70-74% = good

C+ = 65-69% = competent  C  = 60-65% = barely competent  C- = 55-59% = flawed

P = 50-54% = seriously flawed  F =  0-49% = unacceptable, fail

Assignments and Essays

There will be no re-writes or make-up assignments.

Computer or printer problems won’t be accepted as valid reasons for missing or incomplete work. Always back up your latest copy. Since computers and printers can malfunction, complete your work at least a day in advance. Keep copies of earlier drafts.

If you can’t physically hand me a paper when it’s due, put it in the LLPA assignment drop-box next to 2600. If you’re sick (or an emergency prevents you from coming to class), send me the essay by email. You must also (afterwards) give me a hard copy that’s exactly the same as the emailed version. I’ll mark the hard copy. If the hard copy differs from the original, I’ll count the hard copy as late.

Except in very exceptional circumstances, I won’t mark emailed assignments or essays.  

Participation and Attendance

The participation mark reflects the degree to which you’re prepared for class and the degree to which you engage in classroom discussion in a constructive manner.

In general, you are required to read one article or essay per class. If you haven’t read the text and thought about it, your contributions to group work will suffer — as will your participation mark.

Texting at any time and chatting during lectures are sure ways to lower your 10% participation mark. For habitual offenders, I may dock an extra 5% or 10% from their final grade.

Attendance is mandatory. You’re allowed to miss one week’s worth of class with no penalty. For a three-hour class, I’ll dock 5% of your final course mark for the second and for subsequent undocumented absences. For a two-hour class I’ll dock 2.5% for the third and for subsequent undocumented absences. By undocumented absence I mean an absence for which you offer no valid reason (accident, emergency, illness, etc.) and for which you have no verification (note from doctor, coach, parent, etc.). 

If you don’t attend at least 70% of the class — for whatever reason — you’ll receive a “UN” grade (unofficial withdrawal).

If you have a job that conflicts with the class, get time-release commitments from your employer or drop the class. Don’t expect me to let you skip classes, come late, or leave early. If you repeatedly arrive late or leave early, you’ll be marked absent on those occasions.

After term ends I can give you mark breakdowns, and we can set up an appointment to discuss your mark, yet I won’t discuss your mark in detail over email.

Academic Integrity

Whenever you use a specific source for a marked assignment, you must document it. You don’t need to document what’s common knowledge (for example, that AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), but you must document any wording or information that has a specific source (for example, a specific statement made about AIDS, a statistic on infection rates, etc.). Using the work of another student is also considered plagiarism.

Plagiarism will result in a 0% for the paper, and may also result in additional measures decided by the College according to its Academic Integrity Policy (the link is to a PDF of the recent policy).  You can find a Douglas College library PDF here on how to avoid plagiarism.

The College library has handouts on citations, and their website has plenty of detailed information on citing and sourcing. The OWL site at Purdue University is also an excellent resource for information on how to avoid plagiarism and on MLA and APA documentation.

Classroom Etiquette

While I want students to feel free to discuss almost anything in class, please 1) put up your hand if you have a question or comment, 2) avoid profanity, and 3) be diplomatic when responding to the ideas of other students

Electronic Devices

- Don’t use cellphones, tablets, or computers during class. Take notes by hand (this might be helpful practice, since you'll need to write neatly for your in-class essay).

- Make phone calls in the hallway. 

- If you’re expecting an important call or message, or if you’re an emergency contact, please tell me about it before class.

- Students who need to use laptops to take notes must have a letter from Accessibility Services.

Counselling and the accessibility centre are in S 4600.

Side Conversations

Please give your undivided attention while someone’s talking and during lectures. Side conversations can be distracting to other students and are especially distracting to teachers. The occasional brief comment to your neighbour is fine, but any sort of sustained conversation will lower your participation mark. 


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