Activity Fortysix Different subjects and different writing

Think about the kind of degree you are taking:

• Is it a single-subject degree?

• Do you study modules in more than one subject?

• Is it an interdisciplinary degree in which the things you study come from a number of different disciplines?

• Is it primarily a vocational degree which prepares you for a particular career?

• Do you have to do different kinds of writing in the courses that make up your degree?

• Make a list of the kinds of writing you have to do for your studies.

You will remember that right at the beginning of this book we said that writing and learning are inseparable. This is why we are asking you to think about the kind of subjects and courses you are studying, and which disciplines or professions are most influential within them. You might also remember us saying that different disciplines can be seen as different ways of viewing the world. Sometimes we talk about a 'disciplinary lens', meaning that a discipline looks at the world in particular ways. The same can be said for professions; both disciplines and professions have their own ways of talking about and understanding the world. Part of the way in which academics and professionals view the world is represented by the way in which they write. As a student, nobody will be expecting you to write like an experienced academic or a well-qualified professional, but they will be expecting you to take some account of what particular types of writing in that discipline or profession look like. This is why you are likely to find yourself being asked to do different types of writing as you move between and across courses and disciplines. Becoming familiar with a new subject area means getting to grips with the ways in which people write in that area, and in a small way this is what you are being asked to do as a student.

In order to help you think about the writing you will have to do, we concentrate in this chapter on different types of writing. We begin with a case study of one undergraduate student and look at some of the different kinds of writing that she found herself having to do for assessment. This is a very specific example of one student who was studying for a degree in anthropology and archaeology, but it has relevance for other courses which expect a variety of writing. Although on the face of it this student was only studying two courses, you will see that the kinds of writing that she was doing were in fact very different from each other. We illustrate this with some extracts from her coursework. We suggest that you read through the examples and use these as a basis for thinking about the writing you have to do for your courses.

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