11.229 | Spring 2004 | Graduate

Advanced Writing Seminar


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Course Description

The purpose of this seminar is to expose you to a number of different types of writing that you may encounter in your professional career. The class is an opportunity to write, review, rewrite and present your point of view both orally and in written form.

Each week in-class writing and peer review will provide the means by which you practice and refine your ability to communicate complex ideas clearly.

In addition, we will explore the following topics:

  • Managing a communication crisis
  • Creating effective press releases
  • Presenting yourself
  • Drafting memos that get results
  • Writing for Grants
  • Translating technical information into everyday language
  • Understanding good, bad and horrible graphics

Collaborative Learning

A central component of this seminar will be the practice of giving and receiving comments on written and oral presentations. Giving and receiving constructive feedback can be a highly useful tool for learning to analyze and improve the quality of your writing and analysis. Your peers can provide a new perspective, valuable insights, and guidance for you as you work through your research question. Toward this end, you will be put into writing groups with one or two other individuals. All writing done for the class will be submitted to both to the instructor and all the writing group members.

Course Materials

The videotape on the Three Mile Island Disaster will be available for students to view. Readings should be completed by the date under which they are listed. Three books are required for the course and one is recommended.


Kliment, Stephen. Writing for Design Professionals: A Guide for Architects, Engineers, Landscape, Interior Architects and Other Designers. New York: W. W. Norton Company, 1998. ISBN: 0393730263. 

Kane, Thomas S. The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing. New York: Berkley Books, 2000. ISBN: 0425176401. 

Strunk, William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000. ISBN: 020530902X.

Anderson, Paul V. Technical Communication: a Reader-Centered Approach. Boston: Thomson/Heinle, 2003. ISBN: 0155074210.


The grade for the course is based on a series of written and oral assignments. The lowest grade for either a written or oral assignment will be dropped.

Attendance and In-Class Participation 25%
Written Assignments 50%
Oral Presentations 25%

Papers will be graded on a scale of 1 to 6 based on a rubric. (PDF)

Written Work

Written work must be typed, spell-checked, and neatly formatted. Please include your name, the course number, assignment number, and date at the top of the page or on a cover sheet. While an occasional typo or editing error may slip through, the presence of several mistakes indicates a lack of attention and will lower your grade. Specific formatting conventions are negotiable, based on standards in your field and appropriateness for your intended audience. All work must be professional looking and designed for easy reading.

Documenting Sources

Do not cut and paste material from web pages or other documents without making evident the source of the information. Using work that is not your own without attribution is a serious offense and subject to formal action by the Institute. Inadequately documented papers (including bibliography and footnotes or in-text citations) will not receive a passing grade. When in doubt, document the source.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2004
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Written Assignments