English 481S, Science Writing, Spring 1996; Randy Harris

Course epitome

This course is a creative, non-fiction writing class, focusing on science for non-scientists; other labels for the genre include "popular science" and "science journalism." We will read from this genre, with the intent of assimilating its tone, style, and techniques in order to become practitioners. We will write in this genre, and discuss our work with each other.

The main project will be one piece of science writing–a feature story–intended for publication.

Required texts

Morgan, The Descent of the Child
Fillion, Lip Service
Harris, The Linguistics Wars
Ingram, Burning House
Various, Course reader

The instant A+

If you sell an article on science, or sign a publishing contract, during the course, and you have completed all course assignments, I will, given appropriate proof, file a grade of A+ for you.


Discussion Continuous 10%
Peer Reviews Continuous 15%
Small Assignments Weekly 30%
Oral Review Mid-term 15%
Feature Story A Week after last class 30%

Some details

The small weekly assignments will range in length from 150-1000 words, and range in genre from press releases to columns to features. The oral review will be a stylistic analysis of a magazine that publishes
science articles.

The Feature stories will be targeted specifically for a given magazine, newspaper, or programme (television or radio), and must be submitted with a memo that explains why it is appropriate for that venue.

We will have several guest speakers (mostly practicing science writers), and go on at least one field trip (to Discover Television and/or CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks.

Class Limit: 15


A previous writing course, and permission of the instructor.