Writing for Policy Audiences

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Course Description: 

This elective course is aimed at students who would like to improve their writing skills, with a focus on non-academic writing tasks. It is designed to provide students who are working on non-academic writing task (e.g., a briefing report or a policy paper in the context of an Applied Policy Project or Policy Lab) with structure, guidance, and feedback from peers and course instructors. The goal of the course is to help students complete their non-academic writing tasks and hone their drafting, collaborative writing, and revising-editing skills in the process.

Writing for policy audiences, just like writing for other audiences, is a process rather than a one-off task. In this course, students will learn that writing starts even before developing the first draft. The course adopts a learning-by-doing approach: students will learn about writing for non-academic audiences through tailored in-class activities, and through shorter writing tasks to be completed at home. Teaching weeks will alternate with weeks when there is no class, but students are expected to work on developing their drafts.

The in-class activities and homework assignments are designed around three main topics: Understanding your audience; Writing in a team; and Adding the finishing touches. While these main topics will serve as the basis for mini-lectures and in-class activities, the course is flexible to respond to the specific writing challenges the students encounter in their own non-academic writing projects.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Map the expectations of non-academic audiences for written deliverables;
  • Effectively write in a collaborative setting;
  • Effectively respond to feedback and develop revised drafts; and
  • Demonstrate advanced skills of sourcing, evidencing, and referencing in the writing of non-academic genres.

Students will be assessed based on their performance on the following:

  • Class participation                                                                                             20%
  • Peer assessment of quality of feedback given                                             20%
  • Course instructor assessment of quality of response to feedback          30%
  • Reflection paper on lessons learned                                                             30%
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