University of Sydney Handbooks - 2020 Archive

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Writing Studies

About the minor

Writing Studies is an interdisciplinary minor which draws from established research in a wide range of fields including rhetoric and composition, classics, philosophy, religious studies, digital cultures, Australian studies, and higher education studies.

Students will learn to combine various research methods including rhetorical, discourse and textual analysis to examine written, spoken and visual texts at various stages of production, from conception to transmission and consumption. We teach students to consider, apply and control stylistic options in relation to prose style, figurative language, voice, register, tone and word choice. We encourage students to think creatively and imaginatively to produce effective written assignments according to the specific guidelines of a range of academic disciplines. Students will understand rhetoric as the theoretical foundation of writing and recognize how rhetoric is used in various textual practices and discourse communities.

The Writing Studies Minor will cultivate the ability to identify the historical, analytical, and ethical dynamics of written, oral, digital and visual communication, as well as its material and cultural contexts and its associations with power. Our units of study will strengthen students’ academic and professional writing and increase their confidence in critical thinking, argumentation, global awareness, and composition. Students who complete this minor will be able to critically engage with conventions of academic and professional writing and produce reasoned, rhetorically sound arguments across a range of genres, learning to apply language consistent with appropriate disciplinary, cultural and professional conventions.

In your first year of Writing Studies, you will develop an understanding of how rhetoric is used to render written and other forms of communication more effective. We will discuss theories about the development of writing and you will learn to consider, apply, and control stylistic options in relation to prose style, figurative language, voice, register, tone, and word choice. You will also be introduced to cognitive theory and how it informs our study of writing. These units will prepare you for second and third year by teaching you to think critically about communication and to evaluate and produce arguments across a range of genres, including digital environments. In the first year, you will learn to cultivate imaginative approaches to developing communicative texts that are persuasive and appropriate for diverse audiences and contexts.

Having developed an understanding of the place of rhetoric in effective communication, the second year of Writing Studies will focus on tracing the development of contemporary rhetoric, from the classical era to contemporary theories and practices of rhetoric. These, as well as cognitive and linguistic theories of writing, will underpin our approach to teaching research methods and ethical reporting practices. Through these units, you will develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between rhetoric and writing. You will evaluate persuasive texts in relation to the historical, geographical, cultural, political and social contexts in which they were produced. Such approaches will enrich your understanding of contextual elements of communication and enable you to effectively develop your own discipline-based inquiry, and to discover, produce, and deliver your arguments.

The third year of Writing Studies will consolidate your knowledge of the theories and philosophers that undergird our understanding of writing and communication. Our two 3000-level core units will introduce you to major critiques, debates and key thinkers in the study of writing. You will engage with discourse around the construct of rhetoric in scholarship, media, and politics, the relationship between hermeneutics and rhetoric, and criticisms of “big rhetoric.” You will then apply these theories of rhetorical reasoning and argumentation in evaluating discussions on current issues and develop arguments on select issues that you will defend effectively, sensitively and with ethical and logical integrity. In this conclusive year, you will demonstrate your advanced skills in research and analysis by linking information in an original way and exhibit your arguments in visual, oral and written forms.

Students are also encouraged to take optional elective units offered by the Department (WRIT1000 Introduction to Academic Writing, WRIT2001 Writing, Truth, Falsification) available from the Arts and Social Sciences Electives list in Table S of the Interdisciplinary Handbook as well as the Open Learning Environment units (OLET2127 Wiki Writing for the Web, OLET2119 Professionalism in the Workplace, OLES2129 Writing for the Digital World) available from Table O of the Interdisciplinary Handbook.

Requirements for completion

The Writing Studies minor requirements are listed in the Writing Studies unit of study table.

Contact and further information

Department of Writing Studies website:

School of Literature, Art and Media website:

Example pathways

Writing Studies minor pathway with Linguistics major

Year and Semester


Units of Study  


Year 1

Sem 1

Writing Studies minor Core: WRIT1001 Writing and Rhetoric: Academic Essays

Linguistics Major Core:
LNGS1001 Structure
of Language




Sem 2

Writing Studies minor Core: WRIT1002 Writing and Rhetoric: Argumentation

Linguistics Major Core: LNGS1002 Language and
Social Context

Linguistics Major Core: LNGS2601 Phonetics
and Phonology


Year 2

Sem 1

Writing Studies minor Core: WRIT2002 Arguments that Change the World

Linguistics Major Core:

LNGS2624 Grammar in the
World's Languages




Sem 2

Writing Studies minor Core: WRIT2000 Contemporary Rhetoric

Linguistics Major Selective: LNGS3612 Dynamics of Sound

2000/3000 level unit in Major 2 from Table A or S


Year 3

Sem 1

Writing Studies minor Core: WRIT3002 Rhetorical Traditions

Linguistics Major Selective: LNGS3702 Pragmatics- meaning in use

Linguistics Major Interdisciplinary Project: LNGS3999 Interdisciplinary Impact



Sem 2

Writing Studies minor Core: WRIT3003 Visual  Rhetoric and Contemporary Society

Linguistics Major Selective: LNGS3605 Describing a Language