First-Year Writing Seminars

In addition to the six required Core courses, all students will enroll in a First-Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) during one of the first two semesters. FYWS introduces students to the reading, writing, oral expression, and critical-thinking skills essential to a liberal arts education.

In addition to the FYWS, all NYUAD students receive extensive writing and communication practice in Core courses and will come to learn that each discipline has its own conventions for advanced writing. Throughout the NYUAD experience, students can benefit from one-on- one consultations in the Writing Center located in the Library.

Students complete writing proficiency assessments during Candidate Weekend that guide initial placement in the program’s courses. These assessments help us advise students about how to maximize the impact of the FYWS on their learning. For instance, students who may need more time to practice college-level writing are strongly advised to take the Writing Seminar in the fall of their first year. Students identified as being more prepared are advised to take their FYWS in the spring.

Each FYWS is designed around a topic that serves as a vehicle for academic inquiry. The seminar uses thematically organized content to foster student inquiry and intellectual engagement, and to model excellence in thinking and writing. Students engage with a variety of texts, learn how to analyze ideas and express complex arguments, and complete assignments that range from shorter reviews and editorials to longer persuasive analytical essays. Each written essay results from a progression of structured exercises with an emphasis on drafting and revision strategies. Students work collaboratively, learning to offer appropriate and constructive feedback through class discussion, peer workshops, tutorials, and individual conferences with faculty.

To ensure a unified and consistent experience for students, all sections of FYWS share a set of common goals. Students will be introduced to rhetorical knowledge; critical-thinking, reading, and composing skills; a range of composing and communication processes; and an awareness of disciplinary conventions.

In the FYWS students learn to:

  • read and analyze a range of complex written, visual, empirical, or performative texts;
  • conceptualize and express complex claims based in evidence;
  • document sources according to scholarly conventions;
  • write for a scholarly audience; and
  • attend to style, grammar, and proper usage in academic English.

All FYWS section require three essays of increasing complexity (in draft and final form) over the course of the term, culminating in an inquiry-driven research paper and oral presentation. Courses typically begin with the art of close analysis of texts and ideas related to the course themes. In the second paper students use a variety of sources to make evidence-driven arguments. In the last portion of the class, students conduct library research on a topic that interests them and then write a research paper that makes an argument supported by evidence drawn from the sources they have gathered and analyzed. Finally, all students will make oral presentations about their work at various stages of their research and writing process.