Course Title: Produce Writings - Non-Fiction

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: COMM5436

Course Title: Produce Writings - Non-Fiction

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C4171 - Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing

Course Contact : Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Kate Holden

Nominal Hours: 105

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

The competency Produce Writings –Non-fiction VBP552 is delivered and assessed in conjunction with  the following competencies:
CUVCOR03A: Develop, refine and communicate concept for own work
CUVCOR11A: Source information on history and theory and apply to own work
CUSRAD01A: collect and organise information

Course Description

This course aims to give you the skills and confidence to embark upon a career as a freelance print journalist, and to prepare for a career as a non-fiction writer. It will help you to cultivate a professional approach and a critical awareness of appropriate language, style, and word length for a range of publications and audiences by:

- analysing a range of journalistic and other non-fiction material from various publications
- writing and workshopping in class
- researching and writing ‘publishable’ articles/chapters for assessment
- discussing contemporary issues in the media and publishing
- emphasising the importance of grammatical, well-constructed sentences and paragraphs
- developing competence and confidence in planning, drafting, re-drafting, editing and pitching articles and non-fiction work                         

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBP552 Produce Writings - Non-Fiction


1. Analyse the purpose of the writing task 

Performance Criteria:

1.1 The purpose of the work is confirmed with relevant parties
1.2 The form, media and technique most appropriate to the purpose of the writing task is selected
1.3 The stylistic and cultural context of the writing task is proposed to meet the writing objective


2. Investigate the scope of the writing task

Performance Criteria:

2.1 The level and scope of the writing task is analysed to determine the length and style of the work
2.2 The level of research required to fulfil the agreed outcome to the required style and standard is analysed
2.3 The resources necessary to retrieve or generate the relevant information is determined
2.4 The type and level of information required to suit the context of the writing task is planned


3. Plan the writing task

Performance Criteria:

3.1 The writing task is planned to reflect the media, scope, structure and content of the work
3.2 Ideas are organised and developed into an ordered sequence
3.3 All resources required to deliver the writing task are organised
3.4 A timeline for the completion of the writing task that reflects the critical milestones is determined


4. Create the writing task

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Components of the information required and the form in which the writing will be developed, constructed and presented is resolved
4.2 The intention of the writing task and the characteristics of the audience are reflected in the writing
4.3 Appropriate processes and research are utilised to retrieve the necessary information
4.4 The particular characteristics of the media are analysed to inform the writing in a way that is appropriate for the purpose of the writing
4.5 Relevant information sources are employed to generate and inform the writing task
4.5 Common literary devices and the metaphoric function of language are integrated into the writing task
4.6 Writing task is produced in accordance with writing goals


5. Realise the writing task

Performance Criteria:

5.1 The writing task is appropriate for the media, the context of the brief and the style of the subject matter
5.2 The language in which the writing task is written is suitable for the intended audience
5.3 The writing task is proofed and edited to the standard required for presentation
5.4 A draft is presented, if required, to the client to confirm that the work is acceptable
5.5 Work is adjusted as required and presented in the agreed manner and timeframe

Learning Outcomes

 On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to plan, draft, edit and pitch a variety of non-fiction for a range of publications.

Details of Learning Activities

In this course, you learn through - 
In-class activities:
• lectures
• industry speakers
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• peer teaching and class presentations
• group discussion
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• reading of excerpts of writings and set texts to provide examples of writing elements
• workshopping of students’ own projects
• analysis/critique of writings of students’ choice

Out-of-class activities:
• independent project based work
• writing and reading assignments
• online and other research
• independent study

Teaching Schedule

Please note: While your teacher will cover all the material in this schedule, the weekly order is subject to change depending on class needs and availability of speakers and resources.

Week BeginningClass contentAssignments dueCompetency & Elements
Week 1
7 Feb
Intro to the course
Discussion of method, workshopping, privacy.
Header and precede

Header and precede exercise
VBP552 - 2
Week 2
14 Feb
Observation pieces, scenes, people

Writing observation, workshop in teams
 VBP552 - 1/2
CUVCOR03A - 1/2
Week 3
21 Feb
Columns, personal and expert

Column exercise
  VBP552 - 1/2
CUVCOR03A - 1/2
CUSRAD01A - 1/2
Week 4
28 Feb
Guest teacher, Alice Williams (columns and other freelancing)  
Week 5
7 Mar
Dealing with editors, business side of things etc

Style exercise, noun+verb, writing from imagery
  VBP552 - 1 / 3
Week 6
14 Mar
Art of writing, style, choosing tone for piece

Workshop column assignment
  VBP552 - 4
CUVCOR03A - 2/3
Week 7
21 Mar
Guest speaker Rachelle Unreich
Intv class-mate exercise

 Column dueVBP552 - 1/2
CUSRAD01A - 1/2/3
Week 8
28 Mar

IWriting profiles

Vox pop exercise

 VBP552 - 2 -4
CUSRAD01A -  1
Week 9
4 Apr
Research techniques Guest speaker James Norman

Workshop interviews
CUSRAD01A – 1-4
 Week 10
11 Apr
Book review exercise
 Profile due

 VBP552 - 1/2                 

 Week 11
18 Apr
Film/theatre/music review exercise
  VBP552 - 3/4
  Mid Semester Break: 21/04/11 – 27/04/11  
 Week 12
2 May
 ‘How to’ writing, talk about presentations

Out to observe a scene, or happening, write it up, workshop quickly.
  VBP552 - 1
CUVCOR03A - 2/3
Week 13
9 May
 Odd jobs: writing real estate, community notices, etc. Suburban newspapers.

Character exercise, speculative
 Review due VBP552 - 1
 Week 14
16 May
 Presentations Presentations CUVCOR11A - 1/2 CUSRAD01A – 1-4
 Week 15
23 May
 Presentations Presentations  CUVCOR11A - 1/2 CUSRAD01A – 1-4
 Week 16
30 May
 Industry Speaker   CUVCOR11A - 1
 Week 17
6 June
 Assessment Week - no class
  Semester 2  
 Week 1
4 July

Biographical dict exercise
  VBP552 - 1/2
CUSRAD01A - 1 /2
 Week 2
11 July

Memoir piece exercise
  VBP552 - 3-5
CUVCOR11A -  2
 Week 3
18 July

  VBP552 - 1/2
CUSRAD01A - 1 /2
 Week 4
25 July

Family history/biography
 Memoir due VBP552 - 3-5
 Week 5
1 Aug
 Magazine/mainstream article

Quick pitch, develop outline, assess what research
 VBP552 - 1/2
CUVCOR03A - 1/2
CUSRAD01A - 1 /2
 Week 6
8 Aug
 Mainstream writing

Team exercise on devising magazine liftout
  VBP552 - 3-5
CUVCOR11A - 1 /2
 Week 7
15 Aug
 Travel writing

Guidebook exercise
  VBP552 - 1/2
CUVCOR03A - 1 /2
CUSRAD01A - 1 /2
 Week 8
22 Aug
 Travel writing

Lyric/personal piece exercise

VBP552 - 1/2
CUSRAD01A - 3/4 CUVCOR11A - 2
 Week 9
29 Aug
Opinion pieces

Opinion exercise
 Travel Piece due

 VBP552 – 1
CUVCOR03A – 1/2       CUVCOR11A - 1

 Week 10
5 Sep
 ‘Researching and writing a long feature article

Library/internet research exercise: make a plan, decide focus, pitch to ‘editor’.

 VBP552 – 1-3      CUSRAD01A - 1-4

 Week 11
12 Sep
 Essays and literary nonfiction

Workshop opinion piece
  VBP552 – Realise the writing task
CUVCOR01A – Communicate concept
 Week 12
19 Sep
 True crime: visit to Law Courts  CUSRAD01A - 1/2
 Week 13
10 Oct
 Industry  speaker

Workshop Law courts exercise
 Opinion piece due CUSRAD01A - 3/4
 Week 14
17 Oct
  Presentations Presentations CUVCOR11A - 1/2 CUSRAD01A – 1-4
 Week 15
24 Oct
 CUVCOR11A - 1/2 CUSRAD01A – 1-4
 Week 16
31 Oct
 Summing up; business of being a freelancer, farewell  CUVCOR11A - 1/2
 Week 17  Assessment Week - no class   

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

You are expected to read widely from newspapers, a broad range of magazines/journals (including online) and non-fiction books. Such readings will be supplemented by hand outs distributed in class.


You are advised to look at the course blackboard site for ongoing updated information.

Other Resources

You require access to a computer and to the internet for this course

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Your knowledge of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises, oral presentations and through the application of learned skills and insights to your writing tasks.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment.
Detailed briefs for each assignment will be provided to you in class and on blackboard, including industry-specific criteria such as: clarity and appropriateness of angle, clear audience targeting, etc. Your participation in the drafting and class workshopping process will be considered in assessment of assignments.

Assessment 1:  1 x 700 word column, either personal or ‘expert’ (10 %) Due 23/3/11

Assessment 2: 1 x 1200 word profile ( 15%) Due 13/4/2011 

Assessment 3:  1 x 600 word review ( 10%)  Due 11/5/2011

Assessment 4:  Class presentation Sem 1. Topic to be negotiated ( 15%)  Due 18 & 25/5/2011

Assessment 5:  1 x 1500 word memoir ( 10%)  Due 27/7/2011

Assessment 6:  1 x 1200 word travel piece, either personal or guide style ( 10%)  Due 31/8/2011

Assessment 7:  1 x 1200 word opinion piece ( 15%)  Due 12/10/2011

Assessment 8: Class presentation Sem 2. Topic to be negotiated ( 15%)  Due19 & 26/10/2011

Assessment tasks in this unit are graded.
To demonstrate competency in this course, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment.

80 – 100% HD High Distinction
70 – 79% DI Distinction
60 – 69% CR Credit
50 – 59% PA Pass
Under 50% NN Fail

For further information on the criteria used for grading, please refer to the course blackboard site.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available through the course contact in Program administration.

Other Information

You will receive verbal and written feedback by teacher on your work. This feedback also includes suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.

Special consideration Policy (Late Submission)
All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension.
Please refer to the following URL for extensions and special consideration:;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y;STATUS=A;PAGE_AUTHOR=Andrea%20Syers;SECTION=1;

RMIT has a strict policy on plagiarism. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview