Upper-Level Writing (ULW) Requirement

Biology majors are required to take two upper-level writing (ULW) courses. Although students are strongly encouraged to complete both ULW requirements by taking biological science courses (BIOL, BCH, MBI), ULW courses within a natural science discipline may also be used to meet one of the requirements. Writing courses within the humanities and social sciences are not applicable to UPBM majors.

While some of the biology majors allow students to select their upper-level writing courses, others have specific writing courses that need to be taken.

Majors that allow students to select their own ULW course:

Majors that do not allow students to select their own ULW course:

Please refer to the major requirements page of your intended major for more information on individual requirements.

For the majors who have flexibility in the selection of their ULW courses, there are four ways to meet this requirement - by taking:

  • Half-credit add-on writing courses
  • Two or four-credit writing intensive courses
  • Four-credit labs with ULW components
  • Independent Research (395w) and Independent Study Courses (391w)

See below for further details on each.

Half-Credit (0.5) Add-On Writing Courses

Concurrent or previous enrollment in parent lecture courses with permission of the instructor is required.

Note: All interested students should email the instructor for permission and IPC for online registration.

  • BIOL 202w: Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 204w: Principles of Human Physiology
  • BIOL 205w: Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL 206w: Eukaryotic Genomes
  • BIOL 210w: Molecular Cell Biology l
  • BIOL 217w: Principles of Human Anatomy with Lab
  • BIOL 220w: Advanced Cell Biology l
  • BIOL 222w: Biology of Aging
  • BIOL 225w: Laboratory in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (BEB majors only)
  • BIOL 226w: Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 228w: iGEM
  • BIOL 243w: Eukaryotic Gene Regulation
  • BIOL 250pw: Biochemistry Lab Writing
  • BIOL 253w: Computational Biology
  • BIOL 257w: Applied Genomics
  • BIOL 259w: Applied Population Biology
  • BIOL 260w: Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 263w: Ecology
  • BIOL 268w: Laboratory in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology
  • PHLT 394E: Emergency Medicine Internship*

*This course is contingent on approval of the final paper by the track coordinator. Students should send a copy of the final paper to the biology advisor upon course completion. See the list of track coordinators and contacts on our advising page.

One, Two, or Four-Credit Writing Intensive Courses

Instruction of these courses is a collaboration between the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Center and the Department of Biology faculty. Registration of a parent lecture course is not required:

  • WRTG 272/BIOL 272W: Communicating Your Professional Identity - Biology and Public Health*
  • BIOL 273w (two credits): Writing for Grants, Fellowships, and Special Opportunities
  • WRTG 273/277 (two credits): Communicating your Professional Identity (cross-disciplinary)
  • BIOL 274w/WRTG 262 (four credits): What Do You Mean I Can't Do That? Learning to Write Like an "Insider" in Your Discipline(s)

Note: Biology majors may use only one of the following to complete the upper-level writing requirement: BIOL 274w/WRTG 262w, BIOL/WRTG272w, BIOL/WRTG 396W. Courses in the WRTG 27X series may not be taken more than once for credit.

*In certain circumstances, students may substitute WRTG 273 or WRTG 277; please consult the lead instructor for permission.

Four-Credit (4.00) Labs with ULW Component Included

In these courses, the upper-level writing component is included, and registering for a separate writing course is not required.

  • BCH 308w: Biochemical and Molecular Biology Techniques*
  • BIOL 261w: Genetic Research A*
  • BIOL 262w: Genetic Research B*
  • BIOL 268w: Laboratory in Molecular Genetics/Cell and Developmental Biology
  • MBI 221w: Microbiology Laboratory

*Requires instructor approval.

Independent Research Biology Science (395w) and Independent Study (391w)

Students may complete their requirement (one or both) by registering for 395w, Independent Research, or 391w, Independent Study. These courses must be within a discipline of the biological sciences (BIOL, BCD, IND, MBI, NSCI, PHP...) and require completion of a well-written final report that effectively communicates the scientific justification and results of their research. This option requires prior permission from the track coordinator, and some tracks allow only one 391w or 395w to be used.