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Study Writing at the University of Otago

Clear, accurate, and concise writing and speaking are skills that will set you apart from others in any profession you choose. At the University of Otago, we offer a comprehensive writing programme, in which you may choose from academic, professional, and creative writing papers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ENGL 127 and ENGL 128?

There is some overlap between these papers, but there are also important differences:

ENGL 127 Essentials of Writing is focused entirely on developing writing skills. The paper is part of the English major, but it is open to all majors,and it will benefit anyone who needs an introduction to – or refresher of – key concepts in effective and persuasive writing.

ENGL 128 Essentials of Communication divides its focus between speaking/presentation skills and writing skills. It is open to all majors; English majors or those intending to major in English are encouraged to enrol, but this paper will benefit anyone who wishes to influence people and captivate colleagues by speaking persuasively, listening actively, reading critically, and writing powerfully.

Students who take ENGL 127 can take ENGL 128 as well. Both these papers are supported by their own free Open-Access textbooks

What is the minor in Writing, and why would I do it?

Papers in Writing may be taken individually or as part of the minor in Writing. The minor involves taking five Writing papers in total, with one at 300-level. You'll find a complete list of these papers on the Writing subject page:

Study Writing at Otago

A minor in Writing is a useful way to supplement any degree programme. It will give you an edge when entering the workforce as it demonstrates to prospective employers that you have mastered the complex writing and communication skills they seek.

If I want to focus on improving my writing skills, which paper should I take?

You should take ENGL 127. In ENGL 127 students learn or improve practical aspects of grammar, punctuation, style, and mechanics at the level of the sentence, paragraph, and essay. Assessments include essays, a reading journal, summary test, and a number of online tests covering editing, citation, and punctuation.

If I want to focus on improving my speaking/presentation and writing skills, which paper should I take?

You should take ENGL 128. ENGL 128 does provide valuable instruction in writing skills, but it shares this attention in equal part with the art of spoken rhetoric and persuasive speech, providing students with essential presentation and oral communication skills. Assessments include group presentations, online quizzes, tutorial activities that reinforce one’s ability to listen actively and negotiate meaning in conversation, and formal and professional email and letter writing assignments.

If I am a multilingual speaker/writer who wants to improve my writing skills, which paper should I take?

Is English your first language? If YES,  you should take ENGL 127. If NO, are you an advanced English speaker/writer - equivalent to or above a 7.0 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)? If YES, you should take ENGL 127. If NO, then you should first take ENGL 128.

If I am a multilingual speaker/writer who wants to improve my speaking and writing skills, which paper should I take?

You should take ENGL 128 if English is your first language or if you are a competent English speaker/writer. ENGL 128 aims to enhance existing writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills.

I heard ENGL 128 is for Health Sciences students. What's the deal with that?

Health Sciences First Year students must sit a compulsory English diagnostic (held in late February in the St David St Lecture Theatre). Students who do not meet the minimum threshold for the diagnostic are required to enrol in ENGL 128 Essentials of Communication, so this paper commonly enrols about half of its students with Health Sciences majors. The remaining students come from a wide array of other disciplines. If you are planning to be an English major, however, you should take ENGL 127 and/or ENGL 128.

Where do I get more information about the Health Sciences First Year English Diagnostic Test?

You should go to the Health Sciences First Year English Diagnostic page for information on the diagnostic.

If I want to focus on developing my creative writing skills, what papers should I take?

ENGL 120 Creative Writing: How to Captivate and Persuade will help you develop the ability to write expressively and persuasively across a range of creative modes and media, including print, social media and marketing.  In ENGL 220 Creative Writing: Reading for Writers, you will study the style and techniques of literary writers, as you read to inform your writing skills.  ENGL 320 Advanced Creative Writing covers the technical and professional aspects of creative writing, aiming to launch your career as a writer. ENGL 251 Writing for Games and Interactive Media will develop your ability to design and write creative narratives for games and interactive media. All these papers are workshop based, with lots of hand-on writing experience.

Is there anything that will allow me to explore my interest in journalistic writing?

ENGL 227 Essay and Feature Writing provides instruction and hands-on experience with an array of journalistic genres, including travel writing, features/profiles, reviews, political commentary and column writing. In ENGL 327 The Essay: Creative Non-fiction, which follows on from ENGL 227, students write an "object-study" on a subject from areas including literary history, science, history or technology.

Whom can I contact if I have not found what I need here?

General or administrative questions should go to the English Reception in person (BURNS room 1S6) or you may also  email your questions. Specific questions about one of the writing papers should go to the coordinator of the paper, whom you can identify and locate by going to the Our People page.

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