ICS 139W
Critical Writing
Fall 2010

[Schedule] [Submission instructions] [Presentation instructions]
[Assigment 1: Instructions] [Assignment 2: Wikipedia]
[Assignment 3: Changing systems] [Assignment 4: Resume and Cover Letter]


Instructor: Deva Ramanan (dramanan@ics.uci.edu)
TA: Scott Triglia (striglia@uci.edu)
Grader: Rosario Cammarota (rosario.c@uci.edu)
Lectures: M,W,F 11:00-11:50am ICS 180
Discussion: M 9:00-9:50am ICS 243 (Section 1)
M 10:00-10:50pm ICS 243 (Section 2)
Office hours: W 1:00-2:30pm DBH 4072 (or by appointment)


Course goals

Even if you intend to spend your entire professional life designing software or configuring networks, you will spend more of it writing prose - memos, proposals, documentation, electronic mail - than you will writing code. Yet in most of your courses, you exercise this vital skill only after you have run the last test case, in the half-hour before the deadline. Here we have the luxury of concentrating on your writing skills, with an emphasis on writing to meet the specific needs of different audiences; you will also make oral presentations and design presentation graphics.


Every student should be able to write cogent, grammatical English at the level expected in Writing 39C. We will verify this by requiring an in-class writing sample in the first week of class.

Required course materials

Optional materials


To satisfy the upper division writing requirement, you must receive a grade of C or better in this course; you may also take this class on a pass/not-pass basis (which also requires work at the C level to pass).

In general we will assign scores on a 100-point scale, with 95 a clear A, 85 a clear B, and below 70 not of passing quality (i.e., below C). It is possible but not guaranteed that the cutoffs for course letter grades of A and B will be assigned more leniently; that is, an overall score of 89% might receive an A or A-. There will be no exams. We're required to say that in unusual circumstances, these criteria could change, but we do not expect that to happen.

Computer access

Students in ICS 139W have access to the ICS open labs. These machines run Windows and the Microsoft Office suite of software, including Word and PowerPoint. For this course you may use any system to which you legitimately have access; we will require that you learn and use PowerPoint (or Apple's Keynote or an open-source equivalent) for part of one assignment.


Plagiarism means presenting somebody else's work as if it's your own. You may use whatever outside sources (books, friends, interviews, periodicals) are appropriate for an assignment, so long as you cite them (that is, so long as you indicate the source of anything you didn't think up and write yourself). We will randomly pass assignments through automated detectors searching for matches across a large database of online material. Plagiarism is academically dishonest, and we will take violations very seriously.