One of the most valuable forms of knowledge you will develop at the University is the ability to communicate effectively and ethically through writing. Writing effectively in different contexts and for different audiences is a practice that is universally valued by employers as well as graduate and professional programs, not to mention the instructors of your undergraduate courses. Writing is social action that can help us critique, analyze, and respond to injustices in the world and can help us work with others to transform our communities and solve urgent public problems. Writing also involves being mindful of the impact and consequences of our writing choices for diverse audiences. Writing (defined broadly as any of a number multimodal, digital, and/or visual communication modes) helps you not only enrich your communication, but also your reading, thinking, learning, and participation in the scholarship of your major, in other fields, and in various communities you belong to. To that end, you must complete at least seven credits of writing-intensive ("W") courses.
This is in addition to the 5-credit English Composition requirement. Many colleges and schools require more than seven credits, and specify what courses you can choose from. Consult the General Education Requirements by School and College to compare the English Composition and additional writing requirements for each major.
The requirement can be fulfilled in different disciplines, courses, and languages throughout a student’s career at UW. In W courses, your writing assignments will not typically be summaries of what you have learned in class but in-depth exploration and investigation of aspects of specific course topics. These assignments will give you the opportunity to develop your own ideas and interpretations concerning what you are learning in class, to put texts and ideas in conversation with one another, to create space for you to reflect on your learning, and to think critically about how knowledge is created. In fact, much of your university education will occur in the research, reading and writing assignments required by your courses.
Guidelines for teaching W courses are now housed on the For Faculty > Teaching W Courses section of this web site. Please consult that page for revised guidelines, along with extensive guides on assignment design, assessment, academic integrity, and writing instruction while working with TAs.