2018 Basic Writing in Physics

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Physics
Tilma Todd 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
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Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
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Course description and aims

This course teaches the basics of writing informative essays through peer learning, questioning, and short-essay writing to beginning graduate students. It is clear that English is important for those pursuing careers in the physical and life sciences, engineering, and other specialized disciplines. Therefore, in this course, students will be asked to assess, explain, or summarize various scientific concepts by writing simple essays in basic English.

Students will develop their technical writing skills and will understand how to apply them to their chosen specialties.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1) Analyze experiments and communicate their observations in basic English.
2) Be able to assess a scientific concept in basic English.
3) Be able to explain a scientific concept in basic English.
4) Be able to summarize a scientific concept in basic English.


Basic technical writing, assessing an idea, explaining a concept, summarizing results

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

This class is divided into five, three-week parts; each part focused on one section of an IMRaD+C paper. In detail, students will learn how to formulate and write up an Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, plus Conclusions section of a standard academic paper. By the end of the class, students should be able to generate a basic academic article in English.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Introduction to technical writing for physicists Understand the basics of writing a scientific article. Explain the importance and properties of the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Class 2 Researching a physics topic Review the basics of physics research in the 21st century. Discuss the importance of scientific communication and the role of peer review in physics. Understand the scientific method and ethics in research.
Class 3 Writing an Introduction section Understand how to formulate and write an Introduction section. Discuss structure, tense, voice, pronouns, and linking.
Class 4 Peer review exercises Peer-learning and writing of a simple Introduction section in English.
Class 5 Designing and developing simulations and experiments Review current methods for creating simulations and experiments. Discuss the importance of data retention and current methods for long-term data storage. Understand the necessity for reproducibility of results.
Class 6 Writing a Methods section Understand how to formulate and write a Methods section. Discuss structure, justification, topic sentences, and compiling of information.
Class 7 Peer review exercises Peer-learning and writing of a simple Methods section in English.
Class 8 Discussing and evaluating research Review the role of peer review in scientific research. Discuss various methods and platforms for the distribution of scientific results. Understand the importance of outreach and how to avoid misinforming the public.
Class 9 Writing a Results section Understand how to formulate and write a Results section. Discuss structure, identification and reporting of trends, as well as appropriate usage of figures, tables, and other visualization methods.
Class 10 Peer review exercises Peer-learning and writing of a simple Results section in English.
Class 11 Using citations and references in academic writing Review the basics of generating a bibliography. Discuss various procedures for the efficient gathering and organizing of references. Understand what to cite, what not to cite, and how to avoid committing academic misconduct.
Class 12 Writing a Discussion section Understand how to formulate and write a Discussion section. Discuss structure, error, expressions of proof, casual language, and other concepts.
Class 13 Peer review exercises Peer-learning and writing of a simple Discussion section in English.
Class 14 Understanding the register of science research articles Review the type of language used in academic writing. Discuss the various registers: Frozen, Formal, Consultive, Casual, and Intimate. Understand the genre, audience, and purpose of an academic article.
Class 15 Writing the Conclusion and Abstract sections Understand how to formulate and write the Conclusion and Abstract sections. Discuss structure, identifying main results and applications, as well as summarizing an IMRaD paper.
Class 16 Peer review exercises Peer-learning and writing of simple Conclusion and Abstract sections in English.


東工大英単 ――科学・技術例文集
ISBN : 978-4327452360

Writing for Science and Engineering: Papers, Presentations and Reports
ISBN : 978-0750646369

Reference books, course materials, etc.

As needed, appropriate course materials and references will be made available before class via Moodle and Slack.

Assessment criteria and methods

Students will be assessed on their ability to express themselves in written English.

Five report write-ups : 100%

Related courses

  • PHY.P610 : Advanced Writing in Physics

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

There are no prerequisites.


Before coming to class, students should read the course schedule and check what topics will be covered. Required learning should be completed outside of the classroom for preparation and review purposes.

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