University Writing Seminar

The University Writing Seminar introduces students to the power of writing as a means of communication and a process of thinking and understanding. It is the centerpiece of the First-Year Experience, which welcomes students into the rich intellectual life of the university.

Fall 2020 Courses | FAQ

In the UWS, students are offered a selection of topic-driven seminars that challenge them to formulate meaningful ideas, support them with evidence and analysis and convey them clearly and persuasively. Every seminar teaches transferable writing skills that students will use across the Brandeis curriculum and beyond. Students select and complete a UWS during their first year at Brandeis.

The UWS curriculum consists of two major units: a comparative analysis and an extended unit on research. The comparative analysis unit consists of a close reading predraft assignment, a comparative analysis essay and a comparative genre analysis assignment. The CGA asks students to read writing from varying disciplines and work independently and in groups to identify how writing across the disciplines varies and is similar in content, style,and organization. The research unit consists of an extensive research proposal and a research essay.

As part of the University Writing Seminar, students attend one or more Critical Conversations in which faculty from different departments meet to discuss a topic chosen for that academic year; for 2020-2021 the topic is "Identity." This part of the course brings first-year students into direct contact with scholarly discourse and the variety of ways in which Brandeis faculty engage with each other and the world.

Students are invited to continue the conversations in follow-up, small-group discussions. Each University Writing Seminar also assigns an experiential-learning activity to expand the boundaries of the conventional classroom.


Fall 2020 Registration and Course Descriptions

Registration for First-Year Writing courses begin July 23 in SAGE (please note that the UWS Lottery was canceled). In the descriptions below, please note: Remote = instruction is entirely online; In-person = meets in a classroom on campus; Hybrid = combination of in-person and remote sessions; Brandeis Abroad = Remote course reserved for international students for the first five days of registration, and then open to all students. 

In-Person and Hybrid courses may change to Remote instruction if necessary. Spring 2021 registration will take place this fall. Humanities Fellows are pre-registered for their seminars.


Frequently Asked Questions