Fundamentals of Academic Essay Writing

WRIT 125/3.0

A study of the basic principles of academic writing, including a series of assignments that emphasize logical organization, stylistic clarity, and grammatical precision.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

After completing WRIT 125, students should be able to do the following:

  • understand the essential components of the academic essay: thesis statement, topic sentences, paragraph structure, and basic grammar and style
  • understand the format and purpose of types of assignments common to many academic courses, such as comparison/contrast essays and critical reviews
  • use material derived from research sources to develop an argument
  • see how the mechanics of writing – style and grammar – help them communicate more effectively with readers


  • Learning the Components of the Academic Essay
  • Reading More Critically
  • Developing Grammar Skills
  • Analyzing by Comparing
  • Using Research to Support Your Own Argument


WRIT 125/3.0 is a course about fundamentals. One of its main purposes is to familiarize students with the essential components of the academic essay: the thesis statement, topic sentences, paragraph structure, and basic grammar and style. Students who have a firm grasp of these principles, and an opportunity to put them into practice and to receive feedback on their attempts, are likely to produce better essays.

But producing better essays is not an end in itself. The process of planning, preparing, and writing a university essay gives students the opportunity to engage with a particular topic, think critically about it, determine their own perspective and opinion on the subject, and present that perspective to their readers in a clear and coherent way. WRIT 125/3.0 helps students through every stage of that process: prewriting, drafting, writing, and editing. This course also gives students the opportunity to write a number of different types of essays: for example, the critical review, the comparison essay, and the research paper, each of which is an integral part of the general university curriculum.

One major change in this revised edition of WRIT 125/3.0 is a greater emphasis on grammar, sentence structure, and style. It is common to hear students say, "I have good content but my style is weak" or "The prof liked my ideas but trashed my writing." In fact, an essay's ideas and the writing go hand in hand. Original and creative thoughts, awkwardly expressed, will not impress a reader; neither will perfectly constructed but uninteresting sentences. WRIT 125/3.0 will not only help students to develop and organize their ideas, but also provide instruction and exercises in basic grammar, particularly in those areas where students may be having the most difficulty.


Five assignments must be submitted in order to complete “Fundamentals of Academic Writing.” No final examination is required.

Assignment 1 (prewriting/drafting assignment)15%
Assignment 2 (critical analysis)20%
Assignment 3 (grammar assignment)15%
Assignment 4 (comparison/contrast essay)20%
Assignment 5 (research essay)30%

**Subject to change**

Students will receive considerable feedback on their written assignments; for some students it will be a new experience to have their writing examined so closely. However, the best way to improve one's writing is to understand and put into practice the suggestions of those who are experienced teachers of writing. The marking in this course will reflect students' proficiency in writing and, particularly, the efforts they make to improve. Essay assignments are marked according to a detailed rubric developed in accordance with Queen's marking guidelines.


Lori VosWelcome to WRIT 125. This online course allows you to practice in writing the kinds of essays often expected at university and provides you with individual feedback on your own work so that you can become a better writer. In preparing the five interesting and varied assignments, you will have plenty of opportunity to plan, write, and edit your work; and the online resources such as quizzes and model essays will help you understand what effective (and ineffective) academic writing looks like. 

If you want to write better essays or just learn more about the purpose, format, and components of an essay, this is the course for you.

Lori Vos

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend on average, about 10-12 hours per week (126 hours per term) on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.