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Course Prerequisites

You should have taken English 115, College Writing and Reading or an equivalent introductory writing course.

BYU Course Outcomes

  1. Employ informed and flexible processes for writing and speaking, including creating and/or finding ideas, evidence, and data to write about; planning and drafting; revising; editing; and designing or presenting a message so that it is successfully understood by a specified audience.
  2. Write coherent and unified texts, including effective introductions, clear thesis statements, supporting details, transitions, and strong conclusions.
  3. Use various methods of invention, organization, and style to adapt written and oral forms of communication to a specific rhetorical situation.
  4. Utilize the library and electronic resources to locate relevant information, assess its reliability and usefulness, and effectively and ethically incorporate it into their own writing by following an appropriate style of documentation.
  5. Write in a correct, clear, and graceful prose style.
  6. Effectively evaluate and comment on the writing of others to facilitate revision.
  7. Create an appropriate ethos in both writing and speaking.
  8. Analyze the parts of an argument; evaluate them in terms of the intended audience; and generate a reasonable argument for a specific audience.
  9. Anticipate and effectively respond to audience objections and counterarguments.

Course Objectives

Specifically, by the end of the course you should be able to do the following:

  1. Describe the principles of rhetorical theory that can be used both to persuade and to assess and critique attempts to persuade.
  2. Put those principles into practice as a reader and a writer.
  3. Practice persuasive writing in academic and nonacademic genres that are most useful to advanced college students.
  4. Use your knowledge and skill in persuasion to evaluate your own progress as a writer during the course.

Course Materials

Two textbooks are required:

Other Materials

We strongly recommend a current college composition handbook such as The New Century Handbook, 2nd ed., Christine Hult and Thomas Huckin (Longman, 2002).

The course is divided into two units. The first unit is Persuasion and Rhetoric. It examines the theory of persuasion and provides you with opportunities to put that theory into practice. The second unit is Research and Persuasion. It takes the skills developed in the first unit and puts them into practice in the work of producing an academic research paper.

Each unit is organized as a set of alternating activities in theory and practice. Theoretical lessons require reading assignments in the textbooks, and your reading will be assessed by objective, computer-scored lesson assignments. Those assignments are due at lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 11.

Practical lessons will take the form of writing assignments that put those theoretical principles into written practice. You will submit your writing successively in four portfolios that your instructor will read, grade, and return to you. Specifically, you are to submit those portfolios at lessons 7, 10, 15, and 18.

The course will culminate with an assignment asking you to use what you have learned about persuasion to evaluate the quality of your own persuasive writing in the research paper that is the major assignment in the second half of the course. This self-evaluative assignment must persuade your instructor that you understand persuasion and are able to put that understanding into effective written practice. Following submission of that assignment in portfolio 4, you may take the final exam. It is a machine-scored, multiple-choice exam with questions taken entirely from the lesson assignments in the course.

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Course Structure

The course is outlined as follows:

Unit 1: Persuasion and Rhetoric

Unit 2: Research and Persuasion


Most of your grade for this course (80 percent) will come from your writing, submitted to the instructor in four portfolios. The instructor will assign a letter grade to each portfolio, based on criteria given for each assignment included there. Consequently, you should prepare each portfolio carefully, and introduce it with a brief statement to the instructor of its contents and its accomplishment given the course objectives.

The rest of your grade (20 percent) will come from five lesson assignments and the final exam.

Grading criteria for writing assignments are based on the theories of effective persuasion that we study in the first unit of the course.

You may take lesson assignments open book, and for any questions you miss on a lesson assignment you will be provided with instructor feedback. The best way to prepare for the final exam will be to study the lesson assignments.

Formatting Your Portfolio Assignments

You will submit written assignments to electronically through your course. To make sure I can open and read your papers, please save them as Microsoft Word .DOC or .DOCX files.

Note: It’s very important that you submit all of the assignments for a portfolio at the same time in a single document.

Oral Presentation Assignment

To complete your advanced writing course, you will give a three-minute presentation on your major research project. This kind of presentation was pioneered by the University of Queensland as the “three-minute thesis” (3MT). (Watch examples and winning presentations.) A three-minute thesis requires students to speak about their research clearly, compellingly, and concisely to a non-specialized audience. It’s a cool opportunity to express a central message and its implications.

Your final deliverables to your IS instructor are a three-minute video of yourself (standing, with the camera shot at least waist-high) and one (and only one) presentation slide. You may record your presentation on a phone, laptop, desktop computer, or digital camera. You will submit the final video via YouTube, Google Drive or Dropbox.

The purpose of your presentation is to convince your audience that (1) your research project is important, (2) your reasoning (argument, evidence, etc.) is sound, and (3) you have credible expertise in the subject. Your audience is your instructor, but you should also imagine future students or academics interested in your research topic.

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The final exam includes twenty-five multiple-choice questions. All of the questions will be drawn from the Speedback assignments, which examine information provided in the reading assignments in the textbooks.

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Your final grade for the course is determined on this basis:

Lesson 1 Lesson Assignment 2%
Lesson 2 Lesson Assignment 2%
Lesson 3 Lesson Assignment 2%
Lesson 4 Lesson Assignment 2%
Portfolio 1: 15%
Assignment 1: Essay: report on theory
Assignment 2: Letter of application and resume
Assignment 3: Self-assessment essay 1
Portfolio 2: 15%
Assignment 4: Analysis essay
Assignment 5: Response essay
Assignment 6: Self-assessment essay
Lesson 11 Lesson Assignment 2%
Portfolio 3: 15%
Assignment 7: Research resources memo
Assignment 8: Research project proposal
Portfolio 4: 25%
Research paper
Assignment 9: Evaluative essay
Oral Presentation 10%
Final Exam 10%
Total: 100%

Grading criteria for writing assignments are based on the theories of effective persuasion that we study in the first unit of the course.

Grading Scale

The lesson assignments and final exam will be graded according to the following scale:

Grade Percentage
A 100–94
A- 93–90
B+ 89–88
B 87–83
B- 82–80
C+ 79–77
C 76–72
C- 71–70
D+ 69–67
D 66–63
D- 62–60
E (fail) 59–0

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


5 computer-graded assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee.

10 written assignments, may not be resubmitted; and one oral assignment, may not be resubmitted.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 proctored computer-graded exam, may retake once for a fee. You must pass the final exam to earn credit for the course.

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514