Courses that Develop Writing Skills

All students, regardless of their writing abilities when they enter Brown, benefit from taking one or more courses that aim to further develop writing skills. These courses invariably improve students’ confidence when approaching writing assignments in other courses, and they frequently result in higher course grades. All students are expected to consider which writing courses will best address their academic goals and professional aspirations. First-year students are especially encouraged to consider enrolling in one or more of the writing courses described below.

English Department Courses

Brown’s English Department offers a number of intensive writing courses designed to help students master the skills needed for University-level writing. Many first-year students benefit from enrolling in a section of English 0900, in which students learn the fundamentals of a variety of essay styles, or English 1030, which focuses on the research essay. Sections of both courses are limited to 17 students, and both courses are graded S/NC. Other courses focus on journalistic writing (English 1050) and creative nonfiction (English 0930).

Writing-Designated (WRIT) Courses

Students can develop their skills as writers through a broad range of coursework beyond traditional "writing courses" and in a diverse array of disciplines. As originally developed by the College Writing Advisory Board in 2009, intended Writing-designated (WRIT) course outcomes are for students to learn how to think and communicate in writing. What constitutes effective writing varies by discipline; thus students in many WRIT courses also learn the conventions and expectations for writing in particular disciplines.

To further these objectives, WRIT courses should:

  • require at least two written assignments of any length and in any language; and
  • provide students with substantive feedback on each writing assignment (for example, students may draft and revise a written assignment or may simply be able to apply feedback on their writing to later assignments)

Offered in nearly all departments, WRIT courses for a particular semester may be viewed in Courses @ Brown by selecting "Writing-Designated Courses" in the Curriculum Program section on the left-hand navigation.

Faculty who wish to add the WRIT designation to their courses should modify the course via the course proposal system, checking the "writing-designated" box in the curricular programs section. A recent syllabus should be attached, indicating the mechanism by which feedback will be provided to students and the expectation for incorporating that feedback (from the instructor, TA, peers, etc.) into later drafts of the same assignment or subsequent assignments.

Students may not make requests to add the WRIT designation to particular courses.

Writing Fellows Courses

Brown's Writing Fellows program trains undergraduate students to work intensively with peers in select classes to help improve student writing. Writing Fellows read drafts of student papers and meet in individual conferences with students to discuss their drafts. Students then revise their work and submit both versions (the original with the fellow’s comments and the revision) to their course instructor. When grading papers, professors in Writing Fellows courses consider both the drafting and revision process as well as the final paper.