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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jonathan M. Acuff
ENGL 198
Seattle Campus

Interdisciplinary Writing/Social Science

Expository writing based on material presented in a specified social science lecture course. Assignments include drafts of papers to be submitted in the specified course, and other pieces of analytic prose. Concurrent registration in specified course required.

Class description

In this course you will learn how to write according to the rules and standards of political science, specifically in the sub-field called International Relations (IR). I will familiarize you with the practices of IR as a field of study in the production of knowledge. I shall also deal at length with the fundamentals of good research and writing. If you apply the writing skills and disciplinary knowledge gained in this course, the result will be effective analytical papers for both POL S 203 and future social science classes. Students come to the University of Washington from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Consequently, there is great variation in the writing skills of students at the university. However, this course is not designed to address the needs of students who canít read or write at the college level. For students without adequate preparation for college-level work, there are several remedial writing courses available in the Department of English.

Student learning goals

Students will be able to apply the course material from POL S 203 to write a critique of an argument made in an academic journal. This critique requires an evaluation of basic elements of the theories from the field of International Relations.

Students will be able to compose an original thesis statement. The thesis will be supported by several reasons for the position that are analytical, not normative.

Students will know how to conduct an effective research effort for social science papers. Students will understand and accept the disciplinary standards for what constitutes good research practices in the field of International Relations.

Students will be able to discursively connect empirical data in support of an analytical argument.

Students will be able to critically read their peers' work and offer constructive suggestions to improve the overall quality of the argument, the author's style and voice, and the organizational structure of the essay.

General method of instruction

Instruction will involve in-class lectures, small group work, and individual conferences with the instructor.

Attendance of all class meetings and conferences is a course requirement.

Recommended preparation

All assigned readings are in a reading packet, which you may purchase from Ave. Copy Center, located next to Johnnyís Flowers at 4141 University Way NE. If you do not already own one, buy a style manual. While I am not particular as to which style manual you use, Diana Hackerís A Pocket Style Manual is available at the UW Bookstore. Some of the other notable texts include Turabian, A Manual for Writers; The MLA Handbook; and The St. Martinís Handbook. Regardless of which book you use for help with grammar and style, you must employ the Chicago footnote style for citations in the assigned papers.

Class assignments and grading

There will be at least three papers, two of which will be empirical in nature and require research using academic journals and texts. There will also be shorter, more focused writing assignments to help students develop specific skills. All papers are due in hard copy form at the beginning of class on the date specified in the course schedule below. I will accept late work only in the case of sickness requiring treatment at a hospital. I will also require documentation from a physician verifying the severity of the illness.

In general, the grade for each paper assignment will derive from a combination of the quality of the original draft, the advice you provide during peer reviews, your participation in the required instructor conference, and how well you address the problems identified in the review and conference to produce a highly-polished final draft. Failure to participate in the peer review, attend the instructor conference, and/or execute significant revisions of the rough draft will result in a low grade for the paper. For many of you, the papers in this class will be your first exposure to rigorous thinking and writing. However, once you have become familiar with the standards and practices of college level analytical writing, the quality of your writing should improve. After I have alerted you to some of the general grammatical and stylistic problems you might have in the first paper, I expect a sharp reduction in the frequency and severity of such errors. Do not continue to make sloppy mistakes.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jonathan M. Acuff
Date: 02/03/2007