Religious Studies Advanced W

Purpose of the Advanced W

All Saint Mary's students must demonstrate writing proficiency at an advanced level in order to graduate. Students majoring in Religious Studies, who choose to do their Advanced W in the department, assemble an Advanced W portfolio in their junior and senior years. The papers included in this portfolio demonstrate the student's ability to read religious or theological literature with sensitivity, rigor, and understanding, as well as to engage in theological writing with insight, clarity, and persuasion. The purpose of this College requirement is to ensure that students develop the habits and techniques of good writing in their major field of study.


The Advanced W Portfoilo

During their course of studies, students are encouraged to keep a portfolio of all the essays they have done in the major. For the Advanced W Portfolio, a student submits three essays that are representative of her best written work in a 300- or 400-level Religious Studies class.

Papers for the Advanced W Portfolio are ordinarily four-to-eight pages. A student may, however, submit one short paper (2 pages) on a particular text. A student may also submit one research paper written in a 300- or 400- Religious Studies course. The papers may deal with a single author, or they may compare two writers on a theme of theological importance. The essays should demonstrate the student's ability to work closely with a text (or texts), showing her ability to critically interpret and evaluate religious and theological literature, while developing a well-argued and persuasive case for her thesis. The research paper should demonstrate the student's ability to undertake library research, to digest the essential lines of thought emerging in an author's work or in secondary literature on the chosen topic, and to articulate her findings in an organized, clear and persuasive manner.


Schedule to Follow

Students submit one paper each semester beginning with the spring semester of junior year. Papers may be submitted earlier, but the following schedule represents the latest due dates for majors in good standing:

  • 1st essay submission: 1 December of your junior year.
  • 2nd essay submission: 28 February of your junior year.
  • Final essay submission: 1 December of your senior year.
  • All Advanced W work complete: 15 February of your senior year.

Any adjustments to this schedule must be worked out with the student's advisor and explicitly approved by the department chair. All work for the Advanced W requirement (that means final revisions) must be completed by April 15 during the final year of study. Failure to complete the Advanced W in a timely fashion can delay a student's graduation.

Ordinarily, faculty readers will respond to the papers within three weeks. Any necessary revisions must then be made by the due date indicated on the Advanced W Evaluation Form. Papers with mechanical or grammatical errors will be returned without further comment and must be resubmitted, corrected, within a week.

*Forms For Advanced W Submissions

Evaluation Committee

Papers for the Advanced W are evaluated according to the general standards of good writing. The essays must conform to the conventional mechanics of the English language--including, naturally, correct grammar, word choice, and spelling. Students know the pitfalls to avoid if they look over the "Writing Proficiency Evaluation Committee Guidelines and Recommendations" (copies of which are available in the English Department). The essays, moreover, should follow a scholarly manual of style (the Chicago Manual of Style, for instance); such manuals are available in the reference section of the library and in the College Writing Center. Help is also available online through the Citation Machine. Finally, papers comprising the portfolio must meet the standards of all good theological writing: they must be understandable and persuasive to a reader who is informed in issues of theological discussion.