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COURSE NAME: "English Composition"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 8:30-9:45 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Placement via JCU English Composition Placement Exam

This course concentrates on the development of effective paragraph writing in essays while introducing students to the various rhetorical modes. Elements covered include outlining, the introduction-body-conclusion structure, thesis statements, topic sentences, supporting arguments, and transition signals. Students will also become familiar with the fundamentals of MLA style, research and sourcing, as well as information literacy. To develop these skills, students will write in- and out-of-class essays. Critical reading is also integral to the course, and students will analyze peer writing as well as good expository models. Students must receive a grade of C or above in this course to be eligible to take EN 110. Individual students in EN 105 may be required to complete additional hours in the English Writing Center as part of their course requirements.

The chief purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the essentials of incisive writing. The emphasis is very much on the construction of clear and grammatically sound sentences and on the choice of appropriate vocabulary and transitional phrases. It focuses on three of the four essay types, namely  compare/contrast, cause/effect, and process/chronological essays, leaving argumentative essays to the end of the course and to later study (in EN 110).  

Students will be asked to practice certain elements of style that are conducive to the composition of forward-moving sentences that have a natural and dynamic flow. To begin with, the lessons will focus on simple sentence structures, the consolidation of certain grammatical and syntactical rules, and the discriminate use of appropriate academic vocabulary and rhetorical devices. As the course proceeds, the sentences will become more complex and greater attention will be devoted to essay-writing strategies. Students will learn about the typical introduction-body-conclusion structure of an academic paper, thesis statements and topic sentences. Finally, students will learn the basics of MLA and, with the assistance of the  University librarians,  the fundamentals of sound research, documentation and reference. 



Upon completion of the EN105 module with a C or better, the student will be able to:

Write clear and idiomatic English;

Read, comprehend and selectively use complex material (academic papers, essays, quality journalism)

Plan and structure an essay;

Summarize arguments;

Recognize and use different rhetorical modes;

Analyze and critique academic papers;

Write strong thesis statements;

Write topic sentences;

Use MLA.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Rules for Writers Eighth EditionDiana Hacker and Nancy SommersBedford/St Martinìs978-1-4576-8304-6  

In-class quizzes 10
In-class writing and participation 30
At-home essaysThere are FOUR of these. Grading policy. Students will always receive the benefit of the doubt if their grades are curving upwards. A poor mark on an assignment will not necessarily compromise the final grade, provided that the student shows clear signs of improvement. If no improvement is forthcoming, then the final grade will be calculated simply as a mathematical average. 40
Final essay 20

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


The chief purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the essentials of incisive writing. The emphasis is very much on the construction of clear and grammatically sound sentences and on the choice of appropriate vocabulary and transitional phrases. It focuses on three of the four essay types, namely  compare/contrast, cause/effect, and process/chronological essays, leaving argumentative essays to the end of the course and to later study (in EN 110).  

 Students must receive a grade of C or above in this course to be eligible to take EN 110. Individual students in EN 105 may be required to complete additional hours in the English Writing Center as part of their course requirements.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1: Lesson 1 (28 August); Lesson 2  (30 August)

·         Introduction to course.  Syllabus, absences policy, homework, Moodle, Google Docs.

·         The structure of a  comparative sentence (comparative adjectives +“than”, “different from” compared with/to”, “in comparison with” etc.)

·         Punctuation of subordinate clauses;

·         Defining and non-defining/restrictive and  non-restrictive relative clauses, aka adjectival clauses;

·         English as a Germanic language (four-letter words, Latin v. Anglo-Saxon)

·         English as a forward-moving S.V.O.-structured language;

·         Some basic grammatical terminology;

·         Comparing and contrasting two cities – basic sentence structure (in-class work with collaboration of peers).

·         Comparing and contrasting using “Although”, “Even though”, “Though” “Whereas”, “While”


Week 2: Lesson 3 

·         Dealing with numbers, statistics and time periods

o   Refer to these two sites: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t01.htm and http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/qgsp_newsrelease.htm

(Other sources may be posted later).

o   Use of  appropriate verbs (rise, fall, decline, go up/down, grow, expand, contract, shrink, curve, climb, edge, drop, plummet, soar etc)

o   Use of appropriate nouns (increase, rise, decrease, decline, fall, drop, gap) and adjectives/adverbs (sharp, sudden, swift, gradual, slow etc)  

o   Use of appropriate prepositions (by, of, from, between, over, during, to etc).


·         Using the perfect tense in English. Use of “since” and “for”. The concept of the perfect as a present tense.

·         Using statistics to make an argument.


o   Write a topic sentence on incarceration rates in the USA.

o   Write an opening paragraph (in-class assignment, 5 points).


Week 3: Lesson 5 

·         Parallelism – correlative conjunctions (aka paired conjunctions)

o   Both…and; neither…nor; either…or; not only….but also; not…but; whether…or

·         Inversion at start of sentence: No sooner….than; Not only

(Exercises will be provided for in-class work)

·         Parallelism – with coordinators (“and”, “or”, “but”)

·         Parallelism – in general (stating true to the course of  a sentence (sticking with nouns, noun phrases, verbs etc)

·         Positioning of the word “only”

·         Fragment sentences (with relative pronouns, subordinators);  run-on sentences. How to correct and  combine sentences.

·         Comma splices.


Week 4* THREE LESSONS THIS WEEK: Lesson 7 (20 September); Lesson 8 (22 September); Lesson 9 (23 September, to make up for holiday on 1 November)

·         Noun clauses

·         Adverb clauses

o   Time subordinators (when, whenever, after, as soon as, after, since, as, before, until)

o   Contrast subordinators (Although, even though)

o   Place clauses (where, wherever, everywhere, anywhere)

o   Distance, frequency and manner (as, as if, as though)

o   Reason clauses (because, since, as)

o   Result clauses (so, such, so much/many/little/few)

o   Purpose clauses (so that, in order that, in order to, and to)

o   Contrast clauses ( review of whereas and while)

o   Concessive clauses (review of although, even though, though)

o   Conditional clauses (if, unless, lest)

·         Exercises will be provided.

·         Quiz on the preceding lessons (5 points)


Week 5: Lesson 10 

Process/chronological  essays

·         Creating a thesis statement (i.e. title of essay made into a sentence)

·         Use of key words (process, procedure, steps, develop, plan, evolve, stages etc.)

·         Use of key transition signals for chronological explanations (first, first of all, second(ly), then, next, after, meanwhile, at the same time, now, gradually, until, when, while, for x days/hours, in 2016, later, as soon as….)

·         In-class assignment (5 grade points): Write 3 paragraphs on How to make a cake, Fix a bicycle, Meet new people, Get by in College, Prepare for an interview, Research an essay….

·         Homework assignment (10 grade points): Explain how radio broadcasts work. Explain how amplitude modification and frequency modulation (AM and FM) work/how wi-fi works.


·         Homework assignment: In preparation for Lesson 11 (in-class assignment) research the life or history of a person or country and take notes. Post to Moodle and bring the notes to class.


Week 6: Lesson 12 


Process/chronological  essays (continued)

·         In-class assignment (5 grade points): Write a short history of the life of: George Washington/ Thomas Edison/Steve Jobs/William Shakespeare…or someone else; or write an account of a battle, the foundation of the EU, the War of Independence, the unification of Italy/Germany, Brexit, the EMU.

·         Prepare for the cause/effect essay on Thursday. Gather information and post to Moodle.


·         Cause/Effect essay: Research in the library (library session)

o   Topics – The rise of Donald Trump; Global warming: causes, effects and remedies; the declining/ascending value of a university education (we can decide which one(s) we prefer).



Week 7: Lesson 14 


Cause/Effect essay

·         Writing your thesis statement, topic sentence, opening paragraph

·         Determining the body of your essay

·         Four tricks for concluding an essay

·         Organizing your essay by “blocks” or “chains”

·         Homework  essay assignment (10 points): Essay on Trump, Global warming etc. (see above)



Week 8: Lesson 16 (18 October); Lesson 17 (20 October)

Summaries, abstracts, synopsis

·         How to write a summary

·         What can be taken out and what must be left in (examples, quotations)

·         Using your own words

·         Plagiarism

·         Summarize one of the following (Thursday in-class work: 5 points- be prepared by reading the essay first):

o   https://medium.com/@felixsalmon/the-bitcoin-bubble-and-the-future-of-currency-2b5ef79482cb#.fapw70qhw

o   http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/16/what-the-science-of-touch-says-about-us

o   http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html

o   http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/08/tinder-hook-up-culture-end-of-dating



Week 9* THREE LESSONS THIS WEEK: Lesson 18 (25 October); Lesson 19 (27 October); Lesson 20 (28 October – make-up lesson for Thanksgiving on  Thursday 24 November)

Compare/contrast essay

·         Handy words (similarly, likewise, also, just as, alike, the same as, similar to, as, however, nonetheless, yet, still, despite, in spite of, different from, by contrast, conversely, on the contrary, on the other hand) and how to use them.

·         In-class sentence practice (bring in your laptop)

·         Homework assignment: Research a topic for a compare/contrast essay (US Govt. V Govt. of another country/academic writing v. ordinary conversation, two authors, Apple v. Microsoft, English v another language)

·         Homework essay assignment (10 points): Write a compare/contrast essay.

·         Quiz (Friday, 28 October) on the preceding lessons (5 points)



Week 10* JUST ONE LESSON THIS WEEK: Lesson 21 

Review session/Preparation for Final Essay

·         How to organize for a major essay

·         Choosing and narrowing a topic

·         Generating ideas (Brainstorming, mind-mapping, listing, journal writing, free writing, clustering)

·         Drafting

·         Reviewing, revising, rewriting

·         Polishing and perfecting

·         Brief introduction to the argumentative essay

·         Homework/in-class assignment (5 points): Choose the topic on which you wish to write your final essay, and explain why you have chosen it. Post to Moodle


Week 11  Lesson 22 

Verbs of reporting

·         How to get authorities arguing among themselves

·         The three-way conversation (authorities à writer à reader)

·         How to be subtle, invisible and effective – how to express an implicit position)

·         In-class work (5 points)  on verbs or reporting (say, claim, argue, avow, indicate, suggest, show, point out, declare etc)


Week 12  Lesson 24



·         What is MLA?

·         Works cited v. in-text references

·         Punctuation of MLA

·         Essay formats - review

·         Read and summarize an MLA-formatted essay: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20090701095636_747.pdf

·         How to use and punctuate quotations

·         Library session on MLA.

Week 13 : Lesson 26 (

Paragraphs, topic sentences and controlling ideas

·         Being specific, but not too much

·         Supporting your claim

·         The Toulmin Method

·         The Rogerian Method

·         Rhetorical tricks, propaganda, being interesting (preparation for final essay)


Week 14: Lesson 27 (


·         Last words: Help with your final essay

·         Review of course

·         Answering your questions and addressing specific queries

·         Final exam, yes or no? We’ll decide together.