Writing-Rich Courses

All Carleton students are required to take at least two Writing-Rich (WR) courses as part of their graduation requirements. These include a WR1 course, which non-transfer students take in their first term (also known as the A&I Seminar), and at least one WR2 course of their choice. Writing-Rich courses do not focus exclusively on writing; rather, they emphasize writing skills like feedback and revision alongside the regular course content. Students can take their WR courses in any discipline where they’re offered, regardless of the student’s major. Students are also welcome to take more than WR courses, if they like–at the time of our last assessment, the average Carleton student took six!

Academic Writing Courses

For students who want to practice their academic writing skills more fully than most WR courses will allow, the English Department at Carleton offers two courses, ENGL 109 and ENGL 266, specifically dedicated to helping students develop their academic reading, writing, and research skills.

Both ENGL 109 and ENGL 266 fulfill the WR2 liberal arts requirement and are available to all students. Though they are technically English courses, they both take an interdisciplinary approach and do not focus on literature or literary analysis.

It should be noted that, while ENGL 266 is, by design, a bit more “advanced” than ENGL 109, the courses are not a formal sequence. Students do not need to complete 109 in order to enroll in 266.

English 109: The Craft of Academic Writing

As a general policy, two sections of ENGL 109 are offered every academic year — one each in winter and spring terms.


English 109 is a long-established course that covers the core skills traditionally associated with academic writing, particularly articulating clear claims, finding and integrating appropriate evidence, and structuring thesis-driven arguments. Students who struggle with the writing assignments in their Carleton courses often find 109 extremely helpful, but the course is also designed to benefit more experienced writers who simply want to polish or practice their academic writing skills.

Official Course Description:

This course is designed to demystify the practice of academic writing and to introduce students to the skills they’ll need to write effectively in a variety of academic disciplines and contexts. Students will learn how to respond to other authors’ claims, frame clear arguments of their own, structure essays to develop a clear logical flow, integrate outside sources into their writing, and improve their writing through revision. All sections will include a variety of readings, multiple writing assignments, and substantial feedback from the course instructor.

This Course Is Recommended for Students Who:

  • Want to develop their core academic writing skills
  • Have struggled with writing assignments in their courses
  • Are working to revise a “Needs Work” or “Not Yet” portfolio score
  • Enjoy academic writing and want to develop their skills further
  • Don’t enjoy academic writing and are looking for ways to make it easier/more enjoyable

English 266: Research Writing

As a general policy, one section of ENGL 266 is offered every two academic years. The next section will likely be offered in Winter or Spring 2025.


English 266 is a new course that’s designed to teach more advanced skills that students will need in 300-level coursework and beyond. Students spend the entire term researching a topic of their design and presenting the results of their research in a variety of writing forms. The course is designed to give students a great deal of flexibility both in the kinds of topics they can pursue and the genres of writing they practice. While the aim is to develop students’ writing skills, the course might also be attractive to students who simply have a particular topic they’re interested in that they haven’t been able to pursue in their other courses.

Official Course Description:

This writing-rich course will address basic techniques for designing an extended research project and using that research to write in a variety of genres. Students will begin the term by designing an overall research topic in an area of their interests (not necessarily limited to literary studies or the humanities). Over the course of the term, students will research this topic independently while the class examines how different audiences and purposes determine the ways that writers use evidence, organize information, and convey their ideas. Formal writing assignments in the second half of the term will draw on students’ research and may include research proposals, literature reviews, blog posts, op-ed pieces, and posters.

This Course Is Recommended for Students Who:

  • Want to develop their research skills
  • Would like to practice structuring a term-long research project
  • Want to practice a variety of writing forms and styles
  • Are at least comfortable with their core academic writing skills, such as structuring sentences and paragraphs, integrating evidence, and documenting outside sources
  • Have a particular topic they would like research, either as an extension of their major coursework or simply out of personal interest