University Writing Seminar

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

In UWS, students are offered a selection of topic-driven seminars that challenge them to formulate meaningful ideas, supported with evidence and analysis, and conveyed clearly and persuasively. Every seminar teaches adaptable writing skills that students will use across the Brandeis curriculum and in their future careers.

As part of the UWS, students attend one or more Critical Conversations in which faculty from different departments meet to discuss a topic chosen for that academic year; for 2019-2020, the topic is Truth. 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 UWS also assigns an Experiential Learning activity to expand the boundaries of the conventional classroom.

All students must select and complete a UWS during their first year at Brandeis.* 


*Transfer students may be excused from UWS if they have sufficient credits in relevant courses. Non-college credits, including AP English, are not accepted. Humanities Fellows receive writing instruction in the Humanities Seminar in lieu of UWS.