Undergraduate Program in
Biology and Medicine

DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY at the UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER

   WRITING POLICY

UL Writing Policy Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) IN BIOLOGY

  • Students must complete two intensive writing courses.
  • One must be from stipulated Biology (BIO), Biochemistry (BCH), Microbiology (MBI), or Neuroscience (NSC) courses.
  • Although students are strongly encouraged to complete both writing courses in Biological Sciences, the second requirement can be met by completing an appropriate writing course offered by a Natural Sciences department (an equivalent course in the Humanities & Social Sciences cannot be used).
  • Separate 0.5 credit writing ("W") course will be attached to most BIO courses e.g., BIO 232W, 260W, 268W.
  • Registration in any "W" course requires permission of the instructor
  • Each instructor will issue a syllabus with specific requirements and include the basis for award of a letter grade
  • The grade in any 0.5 credit UPBM/BIO writing course will be used to compute the BIO GPA (a minimum BIO GPA > 2.0 needed)

Requirements for a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biological Sciences

More specific and /or extensive requirements may be developed in each BS track: Biochemistry (BCH), Cell and Developmental Biology (BCD), Evolutionary Biology and Ecology (BEB), Microbiology (BMB), Molecular Genetics (BMG), and Neuroscience (BNS).

For example: Neuroscience students must complete writing requirements in NSC courses. The writing requirements in other tracks are currently the same as for the BA track.

Formats for Writing in the UPBM

UPBM "W" courses are open to declared UPBM majors and Natural Science majors. We offer three different formats/teaching settings to promote acquisition of writing skills: independent study, formal teaching laboratories, and traditional lecture courses. Each format has a different set of requirements.

Independent Study: Students are strongly encouraged to complete their requirement (one or both) by registering for BIO 395W, Independent Research, or BIO 391W, Independent Study. For more information on how to register for Independent Study, please visit Independent Study.

In such an independent study course, a student works closely with a faculty member and naturally engages in an intense writing process that exceeds the minimal criteria outlined below. The work centers around the research interest of the mentor. Note that copies of the final written work are submitted to the UPBM program office and are available to the public.

Formal Teaching Laboratories: Students are strongly encouraged to complete one course of their requirement as part of the following laboratories. Each is required for a UPBM major in the associated track. If a student takes two of these laboratories, the student may fulfill upper level writing requirements in both courses.

Students write extensively in these courses in the form of laboratory reports. Writing quality has always been a part of the evaluation of such reports.

    BCH 208W Laboratory In Biochemistry
    BIO 225W Laboratory in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    BIO 228W Laboratory In Cell & Developmental Biology
    BIO 268W Laboratory In Molecular Genetics
    BCH 208W Laboratory In Biochemistry
    MBI 221W Microbiology Laboratory
    NSC 203W Laboratory In Neurobiology

Lecture Courses: Students can register for "w" courses associated with specific biology courses. For example: see current list below. Topics will reflect the nature of the course and background of the instructor. Both upper level writing requirements may be fulfilled by taking two of the listed "w" courses.

    BIO 202W Molecular Biology
    BIO 204W Mammalian Physiology
    BIO 205W Evolution
    BIO 210W Molecular Cell Biology
    BIO 215W Molecular Biology of Cell Signalling
    BIO 220W Advanced Cell Biology: Cytoplasmic Structure & Function
    BIO 222W Biology of Aging
    BIO 226W Developmental Biology
    BIO 228W Lab in Cell and Development Biology
    BIO 232W Genetic Diversity
    BIO 243W Eukaryotic Gene Regulation
    BIO 247W Environmental Animal Physiology
    BIO 260W Animal Behavior
    BIO 263W Ecology
    BIO 265W Molecular Evolution
    BIO 268W Laboratory in Molecular Genetics
    BCH 208W Laboratory in Biochemistry
    MBI 221W Microbiology Laboratory

The minimal UPBM writing criteria: In each course students will write at least two short (6-8 pages) papers or one longer one or the equivalent (e.g. laboratory reports). Papers will be revised. In the case of one longer paper, there will be ongoing writing throughout the semester building toward this paper, including such things as a proposal, draft, annotated bibliography, abstract, etc. Writing will take place throughout the semester with regular instructor feedback.