A A Email Print Share

University Core Curriculum



6 credits in English Composition

The English composition requirement ensures that University undergraduates have intensive training in written communication in two small classes. The two composition courses focus not only on surface correctness (absence of errors) but also on critical thinking and reading, analysis of written and visual texts, evaluation of sources of information, recognition of the difference between literary and nonliterary texts, and uses of technology to construct and analyze messages. In the English composition courses the students acquire the basic skills required not only to write well for their college classes but also to apply those skills in their professions and in their roles as responsible citizens.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the English composition course sequence, students are able to

1. Identify the strategies of argument used in written rhetoric;

2. Recognize and analyze works of poetry, fiction, and drama;

3. Produce thesis-driven, coherently-organized, evidence-based, respectful, persuasive, academic writing, appropriate not only for their later college assignments but also for their post-graduate life;

4. Write with a focus on process rather than only on the product, and recognize the purpose of drafting both for their writing and for their critical thinking;

5. Write with a good command of grammatically correct standard English, and understand what resources to consult with questions about grammar, mechanics, or style;

6. Use sources responsibly and ethically, document sources correctly, and understand how to use professionally-sanctioned citation and documentation systems;

7. Assess what they have learned;

8. Apply communication skills taught in 101 to other University courses.




Attendance policies are up to the instructor; however, students may NOT miss 6 TR or 9 MWF classes (20%)—excused or unexcused—and pass the class.

Writing Assignments:

Written work is the primary focus for this class; writing assignments will be many and varied. Please feel free to ask questions if you do not understand a particular writing assignment. For your own protection, you must keep all work that you produce for this class—including drafts and in-class notes—until the end of the term.

In-class writing assignments will be unannounced and will be graded as a part of your participation grade.

Essays: The bulk of the writing required in this course will be in the form of four formal, academic essays. Specific essay topics and requirements will be presented in class.

Portfolio: At the end of the term, you will be required to turn in a portfolio of your work that will consist of your final paper, a revised version of an earlier, graded paper, and a short reflective essay in which you argue for the grade you deserve in the class.

Academic Honesty:

Please see the Statement on Academic Integrity.  If you have any questions about this policy or any part of it, please see your instructor. If you are unsure about your own proper use of outside sources, please consult with your instructor prior to handing in the assignment. You may also want to consult the Duquesne University Academic Integrity Policy found in your Student Handbook. All violations of the Academic Integrity Policy, intentional or inadvertent, will be recorded with the Director of Judicial Affairs, and intentional violations—ranging from unattributed cut-and-pasted sections in your paper to bought essays—will result in heavy sanctions ranging from failure on the paper to expulsion from the university.


If you have any disabilities that may impact your performance in this class, please speak to your instructor within the first week of classes.


If you are involved in a university athletic program and will miss class because of it, you must bring an official list of the classes you will be missing from the athletic department in the first week of class. Moreover, ALL work is to be submitted prior to the excused absence. You are responsible for any announcements and/or class notes that you miss.


For more information, please contact the Director of First-Year Writing.

UCOR 101

Thinking & Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits

An introduction to the expectations and practices of academic writing; UCOR 101 introduces students to the principles of rhetoric. Students learn how to identify audiences and create arguments that rely on logic, a credible voice, and that take into consideration an audience's values. Through reading nonfiction prose students engage in critical thinking and analysis and write between three and six papers (totaling between 16-25 pages of final-draft writing) with careful attention to the process of invention, drafting, and feedback. Students will also learn how to incorporate other voices into their own writing and how to properly document their use of those outside sources.

Required texts:
Quick Access Compact by Lynn Q. Troyka and Doug Hesse
Everything's an Argument by Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz/Everything's an Argument with Readings by Andrea Lunsford, John Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters

UCOR 102

Imaginative Literature & Critical Thinking

3 credits

An introduction to imaginative literature and to critical techniques for interpreting imaginative literature; in this course students apply the academic-writing and critical- thinking skills they developed in UCOR 101 to the analysis of literature. Reading and analyzing texts from the three primary genres of literature (poetry, fiction, and drama) and perhaps other genres such as film, students will write 16-25 pages of literary analysis resulting from a serious engagement with the writing process as initially introduced in 101. In 102, moreover, students will be asked to use scholarly sources in a research paper on literature and to continue to sharpen their documentation skills.

Many of the sections deal with a certain theme or subject matter and are listed according to this theme, or "cluster." Listed below are the some samples of the clusters that have been offered in the past.



How is sex different from gender? What does it mean to be male or female? How are gender stereotypes created? How does society affect masculine and feminine roles? Do male authors write differently than female authors? Do men and women read differently? These are just some of the questions this class will examine as we study images of men and women in literature (fiction, short story, drama, poetry) and film.


The "Literature, Class, and Culture" cluster will examine literature that focuses on themes of work, the family, the individual in relationship to the community, social class, and protest.


What does it mean to become a "person"? How can literature help to illustrate the process of finding one's identity? What part do cultural rituals play in becoming a member of society? What things must happen (rebellion, self-actualization, individuation, etc.) in order for one to "come of age"? In this course, we will examine these questions as we read and write about literature (short stories, novels, poetry, and drama) across cultures.


In this course, students will read literary texts, see filmed adaptations of those texts, and complete writing assignments based on both the films and the literature.


This cluster deals with "frontiers" in literature-the places where we move a step beyond reality and into the terrifying unknown. By looking at the supernatural, the freakish, the grotesque, the readings question what it means to be human, thereby forcing students to learn about issues that often go unexamined in society, and by extension, themselves.


This cluster also investigates border territories between the "fantastic" and the "real," with a primary focus on myths, fairy tales, and fantasy works. By understanding strategies authors use in constructing these stories, students are able to develop their own understandings and critiques of these issues in their writing and during class meetings.


This course has been designed to help you read literature critically and present your ideas clearly in writing. We will be developing the skills and vocabulary necessary for interpreting fiction, poetry, drama, and film as we explore literature that reflects a wide array of cultural experiences, within the United States and globally.


How do we tell stories about the events that happen to us, that shape who we are as individuals, communities, nations, and cultures? How do those stories create our realities and help us to understand the world and our place in it? The texts we study in this class will investigate our relationship to reality, suggesting both the ways we make it and the
ways it makes us by focusing on the interactions between historical events and literary texts.


What are ‘altered states of consciousness'? What does it mean to say that someone is ‘mad'? What do dreams represent in waking life? These are some of the questions we will discuss as we explore how and why literature of the nineteenth century evokes these themes of drugs, dreams, and psychopathology. Through poetry, prose, and drama, we will delve into the darker sides of the human psyche and examine what represents ‘reality'.


This section of UCOR 102 will examine literature that comments on writing technologies, considering how they have shaped forms of and approaches to communication, knowledge construction, and meaning making. We will consider what predictions and insights literature offers to our understanding of writing technologies and writing itself as a technology.


Science and literature are typically considered separate and distinct academic fields, consisting of different practices, concerns, and areas of study. This course will attempt to do away with that distinction, exploring the ways in which these two fields intersect. Throughout the semester, we will examine a variety of texts from across literary genres - fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction - and attempt to answer the following questions: How is the practice of science and the figure of the scientist portrayed in literature, and what are the implications of that portrayal? How do scientific ideas and their implementation explore the ethical, material, spiritual, and political concerns of human existence and culture, and what is the role of literature in investigating those relationships?


As Robert Finch writes: "The nature writer is not merely exploring the natural world and offering an individual response; he is asserting his, and our, undeniable connection to that world-which is nonhuman, which is otherness, which is not us." In this class we will read works by writers who, through their art, attempt to understand in some way the often difficult relationship human beings share with nonhuman beings and the natural world.

The writers we will get to know deal, in a variety of ways and outcomes, with the mysteries of the physical world and the minds of nonhuman animals. Questions we will consider in this course include: how do we coexist with that which is inhuman? How do writers re-imagine humanity's place on the planet? How and why do we define ‘animal,' and does this also demand that we revisit the idea of the ‘human'?


This course deals with the way that we rebuild our identity after a catastrophic change (the apocalypse, a terminal illness prognosis, a natural disaster). Through examining characters and communities who face the challenges of reconstruction, we'll ask several questions. Is ‘morality' fixed or flexible? Is there such a thing as a ‘core' identity? Does something really 'end,' or is this a cultural construct?

IHP 104

Honors Seminar

3 credits

The IHP is a university-wide honors program that accepts students based on their high school records, test scores, and recommendations. For these students, the IHP Core curriculum replaces the University Core; IHP students from the College of Liberal Arts still follow the College Core.

First-Year Writing Contest

Each semester, students in UCOR & IHP classes have an opportunity to enter the First-Year Writing Contest.  One or two students from each class will be chosen by their instructor for exemplifying excellence in writing, and invited to submit their best essay from the semester to enter the contest.

The submissions will be reviewed by the First-Year Writing Committee, and three winners will be chosen each semester (fall and spring). Each of the winners will receive a cash prize and publication in First Class: A Journal of First-Year Composition.

Check out the current version of First Class with last year's winners!