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Practical Writing

Course Code: CMNS 1115
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Communications
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: Fall, Summer, Winter
course overview

This course helps to prepare students for the complex writing tasks required in the workplace. Students learn rhetorical and genre theory and practise reader-based strategies for writing clear and concise workplace documents. This involves learning to differentiate between the different aims or purposes of workplace writing, analyzing and practising the conventions for achieving these purposes, and creating readable documents in a variety of written genres. Students also learn and practise the basic research skills of identifying, summarizing, and citing appropriate sources.

Course Content

Foundational Theory in Rhetoric and Genre

  • rhetorical situation and scenario
  • audience
  • purposes
  • exigence
  • genre
  • the three persuasive appeals
  • persuasive arrangements (direct and indirect)

Communication Skills

  • tone and diction appropriate to specific writing situation
  • connectedness and coherence at paragraph- and text-level
  • organizational strategies
  • clarity and conciseness
  • headings and layout
  • format
  • procedures for conducting primary and secondary research, and communicating the results of such research.

Writing Tasks 

  • Business Letters
  • Memoranda  e.g. proposal, progress
  • Summary
  • Major Report (1500 - 2500 words requiring research and analysis)
  • Job Package.

Methods of Instruction

This course will emphasize learning through doing.  Working individually and in groups, students will be involved in the discussion, analysis and interpretation of various workplace-writing activities and case studies.  Under the instructor's guidance, students will integrate the results of primary or secondary research with correct language principles in a wide variety of workplace writing -- summaries, memoranda, letters and reports.  Other methods include lectures, group discussions and possibly field trips.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on this general outline:

Research Report 20-25%
Job Package 10-20%
Other writing tasks geared to improving workplace writing efficacy(at least 4 evaluations) 60%

Learning Outcomes

The students will become aware of the need for, and learn to appreciate the value of clear, concise, courteous prose as an indispensable communications tool in business.

Special Course Objectives

By the end of the course, the students will be able to

  1. articulate the key concepts of foundational theory in rhetoric and genre: rhetorical situation and scenario, audience, motivation, exigence, genre, the three persuasive appeals, persuasive arrangements (direct and indirect)
  2. apply these concepts in analysis of workplace documents and in the production of their own workplace documents.
  3. use the correct language fundamentals in all written assignments
  4. use precise word choice in all written assignments
  5. interpret and summarize relevant business readings
  6. prepare memoranda consistent with professional standards and practice
  7. write effective business correspondence in a variety of relevant situations consistent with professional writing standards and practice
  8. prepare written reports using language conventions consistent with professional writing standards
  9. demonstrate report-writing style and format consistent with professional writing standards and practice
  10. perform primary or secondary research and analyze it for relevant date
  11. prepare a correctly written report using primary and secondary source materials relevant to the student’s major program
  12. demonstrate an understanding of correct format and bibliographical methods in appropriate written assignments
  13. work effectively with other students in group projects
  14. accept, provide and learn from courteous and objective criticism.

course prerequisites

Any College entrance Language Proficiency Requirement with the exceptions of the Douglas College Course Options in ELLA or ENGU and the assessments listed below. These require the specified higher standard for entry into CMNS, CRWR and ENGL courses.
• a minimum grade of C- in ELLA 0460, or a minimum grade of C- in both ELLA 0465 and 0475, OR
• a minimum grade of C- in ENGU 0450 or ENGU 0455 or ENGU 0490, OR
• Mastery in ELLA 0330 and any two of ELLA 0310, 0320, or 0340, OR
• TOEFL overall score of 83 with a minimum of 24 in Writing, OR
• IELTS overall score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0, OR
• CLB score of 8, OR
• CEFR level B2+, OR
• CAEL minimum overall and essay score of 70 (computer or paper based), OR
• recognized equivalent or exemption.


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.