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COURSE NAME: "Intensive English Composition"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Aidan Fadden
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00 AM 12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: This course carries 6 semester hours of credit. Prerequisite: Placement via JCU English Composition Placement Exam
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

This intensive course has two components. One concentrates on developing the ability to write grammatically and idiomatically correct English prose, and includes an in-depth grammar review and examination of academic register. The other focuses on the elements of academic writing, from sentence structure through effective paragraph writing in essays, and introduces 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. Individual students in EN 103 may be required to complete additional hours in the English Writing Center as part of their course requirements. Students must receive a grade of C or above in this course to be eligible to take EN110. Students who receive a grade ranging from C- to D- can take EN105 or repeat EN103. Students who receive an F must repeat EN103.

The course aims to improve student's understanding of what constitutes good academic writing. A variety of strategies for producing clear and convincing prose are introduced. This will be achieved through in-class discussion, practical writing exercises, peer work and drafting and editing.  Academic and contemporary issues will be addressed. Particular areas of interest will be the influence of technology on our lives and contemporary socio-economic issues. The course will also involve analysis of ethical questions in which strong argumentative skills are required.



Write grammatically and idiomatically correct sentences and develop structural sophistication to an appropriate level to deal with the growing complexity of subject matter.

Read to understand increasingly more advanced, challenging material

Read and think critically to assess viewpoint, bias, authority.


Expand vocabulary through reading and writing

Develop subject specific terminology through reading and writing



Audience, Tone and Purpose: Who am I writing for, how am I writing, why am I writing?

Write effective paragraphs and essays

Understand the introduction-body-conclusion structure

Write a strong thesis statement

Develop topic sentences and supporting arguments

Understand how to recognize and utilize rhetorical modes: chronological development; cause/effect; comparison/contrast;

Summarize and Paraphrase

Utilize transition signals and other cohesive strategies to improve flow and conciseness 

Write a fully develpoed argumentative essay



Research and sourcing

Be familiar with research skills including:

Understanding databases, web-based sourcing, and source evaluation

Utilizing MLA format to cite sources

Understanding plagiarism and avoiding it.

Portfolios of paragraphs and full-length essaysStudents will draft shorter paragraphs to be revised and submitted for grading as a portfolio; students will draft and revise essays (five fully developed paragraphs) to be submitted for grading.40%
Mid-Term ReviewAn in-class written review of key concepts learned on the course20
Final ExamEither an essay or a combination of shorter writing tasks involving reading and response20
Homework and Class ParticipationShorter writing tasks, readings, class discussion. 20

A:Work 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 genuine novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course. There are no grammatical or structural errors of any significance for this level. (90-92 = A-; 93-100 = A)
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are supported to some extent by other sources when required. The student has read quite widely and errors are few and not impeding. (80-82 = B-; 83-86 = B; 87-89 = B+)
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. There may still be some impeding grammatical errors or errors which persist, including inappropriate word choice. At C- level, mechanics are frequently not under control and/or the student has not fully engaged with the topic. (70-72 = C-; 73-76 = C; 77-79 = C+)
DAt the higher end of this category there may be work which, were it not for the frequency of errors, could have obtained a C grade for content. At the lower end, the 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. Frequent grammatical errors, often basic, will impede readability. Sentence structure not always under control. (60-62 = D-; 63-66 = D; 67-69 = D+)
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.


Attendance is compulsory for this course. Any student who misses more than three lessons without having medical certification which has been validated by the relevant university authorities may risk failing the course. For obvious reasons of academic seriousness, clasess begin punctually and a student who is not present when the roll is called will be considered late. Two lates constitute an absence. In the event of their absence, students are responsible for finding out what has been covered in class and set for homework, first by checking MyJCU or by contacting the professor or other students on the day of absence.

Submitting Coursework


Students will submit hard copies of coursework and homework on the due date as well as electronic copies via Turnitin UK in the case of at-home essays or when required. Late work will be penalized by a reduction of half a grade for each late day. The granting of essay extensions is at the instructor's discretion. In the event of absence, the student is responsible for getting the hard copy to the instructor via a classmate on the day of absence. If this is impossible, students must send an electronic version via Turnitin UK before class. Late submission will result in grade reduction and assignments will no longer be accepted if more than one week late.

Students who miss class when an assignment is given must contact the instructor promptly (on the same day) to find out what the question is and what the required readings are.

As the final coursework grade will be an average, it is very important not to miss an essay as this will have a very significant effect on the final average score.


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.





Possible Themes and Issues

(schedule is subject to change and is currently being revised)

In Class Activity


Week 1

Orientation and Intro. 

What is writing? A process or a product? What makes a good writer?


Discuss syllabus, writing program, academic honesty and plagiarism and the learning environment.

In-class writing


 Pre-writing strategies

Study for quiz on syllabus



Describing and explaining concrete things and abstract concepts

Write about a natural resource or a material.

What is plagiarism?

Examples from academia, the arts, and popular culture.

 Intro to process writing approach and the paragraph as a 'building block'.

Quiz and correction

Organising Ideas for a paragraph

Topic Sentence and Supporting Sentences

Basic MLA layout

Exercises or writing Task


Week 2

 Technology and You - trends in use of technology

 Artificial Intelligence - should we fear it or embrace it?


 Reading and video

 A recipe or a process - chronological linking and processes

Unity and Coherence

Staying on the topic

Key nouns – achieving clarity, conciseness, and cohesion

Review typical problems: e.g. plurals, subject verb agreement, articles

Introduction to key Transition signals – addition, contrast, cause and effect etc.

Exercises or writing task


 From Paragraph to Essay

 Developing an idea into something more detailed and in-depth

 The influence of one culture on another 

 Reading: A Poem

Studying the introduction, body, conclusion structure

Thesis statement as a means of organising ideas and signalling intent

 Writing practice


Week 3


Essay structures - Logical Order and Extended Definition

Model essays

Linking within and between paragraphs

Prewriting and outlining

 Preparing to write an essay

 Exercises or   writing task


 Culture shock - as a process

 Outsiders and eccentrics - social phenomena                        


Supporting Details:

Using external support to strengthen your point – examples, extended examples, quotations 

Using sources and statistics

Exercises or writing task


Week 4

 Cause and Effect. Why do things happen?

 How cultures influence each other.

 Tradition and fluidity

Reporting verbs and structures

 Conferencing and discussion


Exercises or writing task

How rhetorical approaches can be applied to real world issues.

Writing as clarification and 'journey' towards understanding.

Discussion and debate. Finding solutions through analysing causes.

Readings and video.

Types of introductions

Grabbing attention, making it interesting

Exercises or writing task


Week 5


 Using the library resources effectively.

 A meeting with a research librarian (date tba)



A look at MLA citation basics. Avoiding   plagiarism, again...

Summary and paraphrase


Reaction piece


In class essay - (date tba)                          

Week 6

 Comparing and contrasting

Are things done differently or the same in other countries?

 Crime and punishment

 Gun laws, The Prison System - videos and readings

 In class discussion

 Exercises on transition words and   phrases

 Free-writing on the theme

Exercises or writing task


 Discussion and debate. 

 Forming an opinion without using 'I'.

 The impersonal form

 Passive voice versus active voice

Exercises or writing task


Week 7


 Review and conferencing.

 In-class workshopping on error correction

Exercises or writing task

Workshopping ideas and peer editing

Exercises or writing task

Week 8

An Introduction to Argument

Why do we argue? What do we argue about?

 e.g. Vegetarianism and Veganism.

 Debate. Opening up an issue to see both sides.

Exercises or writing task

 Winning and losing arguments

 Losing can mean winning... How?

 Class discussions and debate

Exercises or writing task


Week 9


Introduction to the Classical Model for argumentative Essays.

More thorny issues and contemporary controversies.

 'Frankenstein' Science / Gender / Identity 



 Anticipating and rebutting opposing views


Exercises or writing task

 Model Essays


 Argumentative Paragraph Structure an

Exercises or writing task

Week 10

 An issue that affects students - local issues

  Drafting strong thesis statements  using   subordinating clauses 

Exercises or writing task


 Arguing one of the topics differently.



Using other people’s arguments to strengthen yours - the importance of backing for your opinions

Avoiding plagiarism

Exercises or writing task

Week 12


 Review of reporting verbs, attributive tags - MLA in text citation conventions  

Week 13

 Preparing a works cited list  

 Week 14

Review and conferencing. Prepare for end of course Exam.