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Warren College Technical Writing

WCWP 160: Technical Writing For Scientists and Engineers

Warren 160: Technical Writing for Scientists and Engineers is an upper-division writing course focused on the principles and practices of technical and scientific writing and communication.

More specifically, this course emphasizes the analysis, evaluation, design and production of technical writing projects for science and engineering courses and professional contexts. In other words, Warren 160 is meant to prepare science majors and engineering majors with the communication skills, habits, and frames of mind needed to successfully complete upper-division coursework in science and engineering courses and in their future careers.

As with other courses in Warren Writing, this course emphasizes the rhetorical nature of written and oral communication. Students will learn that all writing is shaped by the context it is written within, the audience it is written for, the purpose motivating the text, and the conventions of the genre it is written within. This course will focus on the expectations of scientific audiences, the conventions of a selection of the most common scientific genres, purposes that motivate science writers, and the context of science writing. We will focus on writing for scientific audiences, but the last unit of the quarter will consider how to translate scientific messages for a broader audience.

The course will also teach students principles of technical writing within scientific contexts. Technical writing differs greatly from writing in the humanities, and students will learn the difference between these two rhetorical situations and how these shape writing strategies for technical environments. Specifically, students will learn how to read and synthesize previous research, how to write about current research, and how to write clearly and concisely.

Structurally, the course will consist of two eighty-minute lectures twice a week with Dr. Blomstedt. During these lectures, students will learn principles and practices of technical writing, but they will also be expected to participate in whole-class discussion, small group activities, and other activities meant to encourage active learning. Students will also be required to attend fifty-minute discussion section led by a STEM graduate teaching assistant (TA) weekly. In these discussion sections, students will draft and workshop their writing projects, getting feedback from their TA and their peers on their writing.

The course objectives of WCWP160 are to teach students to:

  • Understand the general needs and expectations of technical and scientific audiences
  • Know and apply the principles and best practices of technical writing
  • Read a technical or scientific text rhetorically, identifying its audience, purpose, context, and genre conventions, and use that knowledge to write a text in a similar genre
  • Know the basic parts of a scientific research paper and a scientific research poster, including their purpose and general conventions
  • Write in common technical and scientific genres, including literature reviews, abstracts, scientific research posters, and science journalism
  • Consider the responsibility scientists and engineers have to communicate their findings with the public, and apply strategies for communicating scientific messages to general audiences


The course is open to all upper-division UCSD students; for Warren College students, it can meet one of the following requirements:

  • One upper-division PofC course for both the Humanities/Fine Arts and the Math/Science/Engineering categories
  • One upper-division Area Study course in the Humanities category
  • For transfer students: one upper-division non-contiguous GE requirement, regardless of major

*This course does not take the place or waive the requirement of WCWP 10A, 10B, or 100.


This course will not be offered for Fall 2020