Fundamentals of Effective Writing

WRIT 120/3.0

A focus on the principles and practical applications of effective writing. Students apply effective writing strategies to address a variety of professional and academic audiences. Students plan, outline, write, and revise reader-centred documents that relate to forms and contexts they will encounter in the workplace and in educational environments.


Writing 120 focuses on the principles and practical applications of effective writing. Students apply effective writing strategies to address a variety of professional and academic audiences. Students plan, outline, write, and revise reader-centred documents that relate to forms and contexts they will encounter in the workplace and in educational institutions.

Assignments in Writing 120 focus on developing effective writing skills through short, writing-intensive tasks, diagnostic and evaluative quizzes, practical planning, drafting and revising exercises, group activities and active learning. While students will develop the necessary writing skills to address a wide variety of academic and professional tasks, Writing 120 does not focus on academic essay composition.


Students will be evaluated on their participation (5%) and on completion of four assignments (100%). All four assignments must be completed in order for students to pass the course. This course has no final exam.


Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to

  • Use clear writing strategies to discuss, summarize, report, and argue effectively;
  • Select a writing style and format best suited for academic or professional purposes and audiences
  • Produce written work using: content (what is being said and why it matters), structure (how it is said), and style (how it is presented);
  • Identify weaknesses in grammar, mechanics, style, and tone;
  • Revise their own writing effectively;
  • Evaluate different forms of writing to determine how effectively they meet the expectations of various audiences;
  • Understand the iterative nature of the writing process.


The following topics will be covered in this course:

  • Module 1: Fundamental Principles of Effective Writing: Providing guidelines for effective writing in professional and academic settings, while establishing that writing is an indispensable form of communication that enables one to communicate ideas, report information, and make arguments
  • Module 2: Fundamentals of Style and Grammar: Writing with an awareness of tone, appropriate word choice, concision and clarity; understanding basic, compound, and complex sentences; understanding basic sentence components and parts of speech; identifying and correcting grammatical errors
  • Module 3: Fundamentals of Mechanics and Punctuation: Understanding sentence level organizational elements, including active and passive voice, parallel sentence structure, and transitions; applying Standard English punctuation conventions
  • Module 4: Critical Reading and Writing: Distinguishing between fact and opinion; analyzing the reasoning behind an argument; taking a critical stance toward ideas, raising questions, examining evidence, and evaluating arguments on the basis of reason
  • Module 5: Writing in Various Contexts: Focusing on a purpose for writing; summarizing effectively; using writing as a means of learning; writing in professional contexts; writing in collaborative environments
  • Module 6: The Revising Process: Recognizing and practicing the process of planning, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing; critiquing your own writing; revising for unity, support and coherence

Additional topics may be covered at the instructors’ discretion.


Laura Kinderman and Treava Kellington have been English Instructors at the post-secondary level for over two decades combined, teaching courses such as a survey of literature, the novel, the short story, composition, professional skills, and research writing. Laura is an Educational Developer with the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s and is completing her doctorate on the role of musical language in the Romantic lyric. Treava teaches in the English department at Okanagan College, and is completing her doctorate at the University of Victoria, focusing on the rhetoric of science in late-Victorian experimental fiction.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 9-10 hours a week in study / practice and online activity for WRIT 120.

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.