Advanced W Requirement

TO: Political Science Majors

RE: Advanced Writing Proficiency Requirement

All Saint Mary's students must satisfy an Advanced Writing Proficiency Requirement. This proficiency is demonstrated in a student's major, or in one of her majors if she has several. If you plan to major in Political Science you may satisfy this requirement by following the procedure outlined below. If Political Science is your only major, you must follow this procedure. Please keep this information for reference as you continue your studies.


During your sophomore and junior years you need to constitute a portfolio of writing in political science. The papers in this portfolio will be papers you have written for Political Science courses. You must include in your portfolio two papers from two different 200-level courses, and one paper from an upper level course. Try to have a variety of topics and types of papers (e.g., a case study, a research proposal, presentation of data, etc., as well as a traditional research paper). If you wish, in addition to the three required papers you may include work done outside of major courses if it relates to your field of study (papers from other courses, for example, or writing done during an internship, summer job, or political campaign).

All papers included in your portfolio must be typed, and they must be clean copies (no grades or instructor's comments). The easiest way to get a clean copy is of course to copy the paper before you submit it in the first place. This assumes (happy thought!) that no revision is needed.

You must submit your portfolio to the department by a deadline set in the fall semester of your senior year. The department, however, appreciates early submissions by the end of your junior year. Each portfolio will be read by a faculty member. At the beginning of your senior year you will be told whether your portfolio satisfies the requirement, and if not, what you need to do to improve it. You will be expected to complete any necessary revisions by the end of the fall semester of your senior year.

In evaluating portfolios, faculty will want to see if you can write clearly and analytically in your chosen field. Can you correctly apply the concepts and theories of the discipline to the facts and data with which you are working? Can you relate these concepts to each other in a logical way? When appropriate, do you use technical terms correctly? Can you present your ideas so that they are intelligible to a general audience, not just to the teacher of a particular course? Do you respect conventional rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Do you indicate clearly and correctly any use of ideas or words that are not your own?

We hope that most of your papers meet these standards already. If you know you have trouble writing, however, you need to start working now. Be sure to earn your basic "W" as soon as you can. Work on all assignments as if they were possible Advanced "W" papers: start on them early so you will have time to polish the writing as you correct your ideas. Ask for help from your instructors and from the Writing Center. Remember that skill in writing comes with practice.

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