Political Science


Writers improve and become proficient when they write a lot, across time, in a variety of genres, with a lot of revision.

Overview of Advanced Writing Best Practices

In the Department of Political Science (POL), the Advanced Writing requirement is fulfilled when students take two courses that are designated as writing-intensive (“W”) courses—one at the 200 level and one at the 300 level. In other words, the two W courses together satisfy the AW requirement.

About five 200-level W courses and five 300-level W courses are offered each semester, and each is capped at 25 students.

This course sequence meets the three major components of an Advanced Writing course and allows students to develop their writing abilities with consistent feedback across multiple years:

  • All POL W courses include known best practices for any writing-intensive course. Courses include multiple writing assignments; class time devoted to writing; discussions of how to read, analyze, and write in various genres for both specialists and non-specialists; feedback from instructors; and revision.
  • Students in the writing-intensive courses write quite a lot more than the Advanced Writing minimum requirement—roughly between 15,000 and 20,000 words across the two courses. (Departmental assessment shows that 200-level W syllabi generally require between 5725 and 7400 words, while 300-level W syllabi require between 10,000 and 12,475 words.)
  • Students write in a variety of genres and reflect on what they write. In POL 221, students write an op-ed article for a general audience (750 words of writing with 1400 words of peer responses), a research design paper for political scientists (4500 words), and reflection responses. Consistent reflection responses allow students to practice clear and concise writing, and the instructor responds to each reflection with a focus on improvement over the semester.