Course Syllabus

Course Information

Title: Reading and Writing Arguments
Number: ENG 303-001
Time & Location: T & R 9:30–10:45 (MO 204)
Instructor: Dr. Jeremy Tirrell
Office: MO 161
Office Hours: M & W 3:00–5:00 (and by email or appointment)

Course Overview

This course asks students to analyze the rhetorical strategies of effective written arguments that address contemporary social and political issues. Students then will compose their own arguments using the insights gained from engaging these materials. An argument's effectiveness derives from internal aspects including structure, language choice, and presentation of evidence as well as external aspects such as audience awareness and context. In this course, students will examine these elements and put them into practice by producing texts that are refined through processes of drafting, receiving feedback, and revising.

This course affirms the Seahawk Respect Compact, which will guide class interactions. We will engage cultural issues in this course, and the class will endeavor to cultivate an appropriate critical environment in which ideas can be discussed freely and civilly. All class members are expected to treat each other with appropriate courtesy and decorum, and all coursework should be completed in a thorough, timely fashion. All students must read and understand the policies articulated in this syllabus and sign the Course Contract in order to remain in the class.


Catalogue Description:

ENG 303 - Reading and Writing Arguments
Credits: 3
Instruction in rhetorical principles and their use in both analyzing and constructing persuasive texts. Partially satisfies University Studies IV: Building Competencies/Writing Intensive. Satisfies University Studies VI: Common Requirements/Critical Reasoning.


Course Learning Outcomes:

To complete this course successfully, students should demonstrate the ability to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to research and cite sources appropriately (CR1, WI1)
  • Demonstrate the ability to produce a text that asserts a clear argumentative thesis supported with appropriate evidence and good reasons, and that addresses a controversial issue in a balanced and ethical manner (CR1, CR4, WI2)
  • Demonstrate an ability to understand, summarize, and express the arguments made in another's text (CR2, WI1)
  • Demonstrate the ability to situate an argument within the broader context of other arguments addressing a question at issue (CR2, WI1)
  • Demonstrate the ability to recognize specific types of rhetorical appeals being employed in another's argument and to recognize the appeals that are most appropriate to employ in one's own writing (CR3, WR2)
  • Develop written products through an iterative process of drafting and revision in response to instructor feedback and peer review (WI 2)


Required Materials:

  • America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals, 12th ed., Robert Atwan
  • The Shape of Reason: Argumentative Writing in College, 4th ed., John T. Gage

Materials may be obtained from:

Be aware that electronic/loose-leaf/ring-bound/rental versions are perfectly usable, but they do not have any resale value.

Course Policies

Technology Expectations:

  • ability to interact with the course website
  • access to appropriate composition software
  • an email account checked regularly for course-related business
  • a networked drive, flash drive, or other means to backup coursework

Routine interaction with educational technology is a component of this class, and computer problems are not valid excuses for incomplete coursework. Students should practice the core principle of digital data hygiene: redundant backup. Digital technology will fail; students should be prepared for that eventuality.


Personal Technology Devices in the Classroom:

Students may use laptops, cell phones, and other digital devices during class, provided that they do not disrupt other students' learning or the instructor's classroom management (however, research suggests that students will be better served by not using such devices in class). Students are responsible for their own engagement with class meetings and their corresponding success or failure in the course.


Attendance and Punctuality:

Because this class contains a strong workshop and discussion component, class attendance is crucial. Role is taken shortly after class begins. If a student is not present when role is taken, he or she will be considered absent. If there are extraordinary circumstances that will prevent a student from attending class, he or she must contact the instructor beforehand. There is no separate attendance component of the course grade, but any student who misses more than five in-class meetings without clearance from the instructor will fail the course automatically. Additionally, any work missed because of an absence cannot be made up. This includes major assignments. The class abides by the maxim that all members of the class should show respect to one another by meeting at designated times and places prepared to work.


Late Work:

Late work is not accepted under normal circumstances.


Statement on Academic Integrity:

All UNCW community members are expected to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the UNCW Student Academic Honor Code. Students are expected to produce original work in this course. Collaboration and incorporation of external material and ideas into original work is of course necessary and acceptable, but all students are ethically obliged to document external sources through appropriate citation practices. Students who are uncertain if some element of their work constitutes plagiarism or another honor code violation should speak with the instructor. The point of any class is to educate, not to punish; nevertheless, the consequences of honor code violations are appropriately dire. Please consult the UNCW Code of Student Life for more information.


Statement on Services for Students with Disabilities:

The university will make every effort to accommodate students with disabilities. Students requiring accommodations should contact the Disability Resource Center, as the instructor can take no action without its guidance. Students should do this as soon as possible, as accommodations cannot be made retroactively.


Statement Regarding Violence and Harassment:

UNCW practices a zero tolerance policy for any kind of violent or harassing behavior. Students experiencing an emergency of this type should contact the police at 911 or UNCW CARE at 962-2273. Resources for individuals concerned with a violent or harassing situation can be located at the UNCW Crisis Resources page. Students should be aware that all university employees, including instructors, are legally obligated to communicate any report of alleged sexual misconduct, on or off-campus, to the Dean of Students. Three university entities are confidential resources exempt from this obligation: CARE, the Counseling Center, and the Abrons Student Health Center.


Statement on Religious Observance:

In accordance with NC SL 2010-211, students are entitled to two excused absences for religious observances per academic year. Students must inform the instructor in writing the first week of class if they will miss any classes due to religious observance. Additionally, students should inform the Registrar the first week of class who will then coordinate with the corresponding course instructors. Any absence for religious purposes will be considered unexcused unless a student submits the request in writing the first week to the instructor or Registrar.

Course Grading

Grade Disbursement:

Each student will have private, secure access to his or her grades online through this Canvas site.


Grade Components:

Engagement Assignments = 10 points
Reading Responses = 20 points
Popular Argument Analysis = 25 points
Academic Argument Analysis = 25 points
Researched Argument 1 = 60 points
Researched Argument 2 = 60 points

Total = 200 points


Final Course Grades:

This courses uses the plus/minus grading system on final grade reports. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 92%–100% = A
  • 90%–91% = A-
  • 88%–89% = B+
  • 82%–87% = B
  • 80%–81% = B-
  • 78%–79% = C+
  • 72%–77% = C
  • 70%–71% = C-
  • 68%–69% = D+
  • 62%–67% = D
  • 60%–61% = D-
  • 0%–59% = F

Course Summary:

Date Details Due