Academics

Achieving eXcellence in Liberal Education

About AXLE | Distribution Categories | Placement
Writing Requirements | First-Year Writing Seminars

The AXLE Writing Requirement

Basic Competency in English Composition

Writing skills are essential for students to succeed at University. The College of Arts & Science requires that all of its students demonstrate competence in English composition. The AXLE curriculum retains the existing English 100 minimum skill level in composition, which can be satisfied by passing English 100 or by presenting qualifying scores on the SAT Writing and Critical Reasoning tests or earning appropriate AP/IB credit for 100-level Writing courses. In the recent past, approximately 90% of entering first year students satisfied this requirement with AP or IB credit, or SAT test score.

AXLE Writing Requirements

The AXLE curriculum requires that all students complete three Writing courses beyond the English 100 proficiency standard, irrespective of SAT II Writing or AP English test scores. Students must take a First Year Writing Seminar, a 100-level Writing course, and either another 100-level Writing course or a 200-level Writing course or an Oral Communications course. This increase in the number of Writing courses that students are required to complete will improve the communication skills of all students and should simplify the administration of the Writing Requirement. Completion of a First Year Writing Seminar as a component of the First Year Common Experience ensures that all first year students have an opportunity to hone their writing skills in their first year at Vanderbilt University. Students who must enroll in English 100 will also be required to complete a First Year Writing Seminar course in their first year. Preferably, these students will take the English 100 course during the Fall semester and the First Year Writing Seminar during the Spring semester. All students will be required to complete a 100-level Writing course by the end of their sophomore year. This schedule maintains flexibility for course programming during the first and second years, particularly for pre-medical students or students who plan to begin or continue with the study of a language in their first year.

The Third Writing Course Requirement

The third Writing course may be a 100-level Writing course or a 200-level Writing course or an approved Oral Communications course. The 200-level Writing courses allow students to fulfill the third part of the Writing Requirement with a discipline-specific course at a more advanced level than the 100-level Writing courses. Content of the various 200-level Writing courses is diverse, reflecting the fact that writing styles are discipline-specific. In the natural sciences, for example, an advanced laboratory course in which students prepare reports in the style of a professional journal article may fulfill the 200-level Writing option. Advanced courses requiring writing in a language other than English may also fulfill the 200-level Writing option.

Students may also complete the third portion of the Writing Requirement with an approved Oral Communications course. This option encourages College of Arts and Science students to consider completing an approved course in Oral Communications. The departments and programs that offer approved Oral Communications courses determine the specific nature and content of their classes. Similar to writing courses, these courses include regular attention to the Oral Communications process in class, the opportunity to refine speaking skills through multiple presentations over the course of a semester, and feedback from the instructor.

Writing Requirements for First Year Writing Seminars

Students in First Year Writing Seminars shall be required to write a minimum of 15-20 typescript pages. A considerable portion of each student’s grade should be from written assignments, in addition to class participation, quizzes, and tests. The specific writing assignments shall be at the discretion of the instructor and may be discipline-specific. However, at least three writing assignments must be graded at intervals during the semester, enabling the instructor to provide feedback that will enable students to improve their writing. After the initial review and approval of a new First Year Writing Seminar, it need not undergo further review provided that the course description remains unchanged. Department Chairs and Program Directors should remind their faculty members of these expectations at the beginning of each term.

Writing Requirements for 200-level Writing Courses

Students in 200-level Writing courses shall receive regular feedback on their writing over the course of a semester, affording them the opportunity to improve their skills, and shall receive discipline-specific writing instruction in the classroom. The process of revising written work allows students to reflect on the writing process. Writing tutorials are also encouraged.