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About FWIS Courses

These courses fulfill Rice’s Writing and Communication Requirement, which all students must complete in order to earn a bachelor’s degree from the university. They are capped at 15 students to support group discussion and foster relationships between students and faculty. The small class size, and also ensures that students receive substantive feedback from instructors on their writing, speaking, and visual communication skills.

Writing and communication play a significant role in assignments and grading in FWIS courses, though assignments may not be a traditional essay or presentation. Some assignments might ask students to reflect on field trips to local museums, conduct interviews with members of the Rice and Houston community, or even critically examine the experience of strolling through campus.

Based on the summer composition evaluations, some students are required to take an additional writing course in the fall, FWIS 100: Introduction to Academic Writing, before enrolling in a FWIS in the spring. For more information, see FWIS 100 Overview.

Course Schedule

View the list of courses.

Course Instructors

View our instructors' backgrounds and specialities.

FWIS Learning Goals

View the FWIS Learning Goals.

Composition Exam

Read about the composition exam and its scoring. 

  • FWIS Spotlight

    As a computer science major, writing doesn't come easy to me; I was more worried about FWIS than my STEM courses. My FWIS, Post-apocalyptic Literature and Film, helped me become a little less afraid of writing through an enjoyable and fun exploration of my favorite genre.
    Harrison Brown
    FWIS 189, Post-Apocalyptic Literature and Film
  • FWIS Spotlight

    I totally loved my FWIS experience in Time Travel Narratives with Prof. Laura Richardson! We not only had so many insightful discussions/writings about how time traveling reflects on the human's imagination and contemporary world, but also had a lot of fun. Prof. Richardson took us to watch movies, hang out for meals, and even played piano for us outside of class. All classmates from my FWIS became good friends and we all liked the experience very much!
    Hongyu Mao
    FWIS 121, Time Travel Narratives
  • FWIS Spotlight

    My Freshman Writing Seminar experience made it possible for me to confidently transition into college-level reading and writing. Although I was initially intimidated upon arriving at Rice to encounter academic texts and writing assignments that were far more complex than anything I had been assigned in high school, my professor broke all of our research and writing tasks down into manageable steps. Overall, my FWIS not only let me study a unique topic, it let me gain skills I have used ever since in all my other classes at Rice.
    Carly Frieders
    FWIS 192, The Roaring Twenties
  • FWIS Spotlight

    FWIS courses are more than just your typical writing class. My FWIS focused on all the water issues that our society has to deal with and how they will affect our planet’s future. I learned just as much about writing as I did about issues that our world is dealing with. FWIS courses aren’t just about writing essays like a typical writing course. Rather they focus on content and often achieve this by giving the students lots of fun, educational activities to participate in. In my FWIS, we watched movies, taste tested various brands of bottled water, and got to present about new energy sources for our world. Get ready to enjoy your FWIS and your freshman year!
    Alex Cerda
    FWIS 188, Water and Society
  • FWIS Spotlight

    You can always improve your writing’ is a phrase I’ve heard fairly often from my parents, teachers, and even employers. It’s always possible to communicate more clearly, and that will often set you apart from those around you. My FWIS course at Rice offered the opportunity to improve not only my writing skills but also my writing efficiency. Although I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to starting a writing assignment (as you’ll find most people are), my FWIS professor encouraged us to get over the initial hurdle by pursuing topics of interest. This idea has even spread to different areas of my life, and I encourage you to follow it as well: even the most difficult tasks can be enjoyable if you’re interested in the topic.
    Chris Sabbagh
    FWIS 100, The Birth of Gods and the Origins of Justice
  • FWIS Spotlight

    My FWIS experience was defined by an unparalleled sense of community. In addition to having a kind and accommodating professor, I had fourteen equally helpful and encouraging classmates whose commentaries challenged my assumptions and beliefs. FWIS was highly collaborative, and through our discussions, papers, and groups projects, I not only developed my critical writing and thinking skills, but also made close friends from many of the residential colleges. There’s something truly genius about combining fifteen strangers, all with different backgrounds, perspectives, and priorities, in an open and communicative environment, and this ultimately made FWIS such a valuable experience.
    Mia Polansky
    FWIS 178, Reading Pop Culture
  • FWIS Spotlight

    Through FWIS, I’ve enjoyed teaching my favorite French films and novels, many of which raise controversial questions that lead to spirited discussions and papers in which students feel they have a stake. Because the classes are capped at 15 students, all of whom are in their first year, they quickly form into tight communities. I get to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses and work with each individually on writing and presenting. I keep up with many of my former students, and it is rewarding to hear that years later they are still making connections between texts and films from class and their life experiences.
    Melissa Bailar
    Associate Director, Humanities Research Center
  • FWIS Spotlight

    For me, the most satisfying aspect of teaching a FWIS course was the opportunity to work with new Rice students, many of whom I discovered came from homes where English was the second language. The small class size made for an excellent teaching environment. Working one-on-one with these students, I found it very gratifying to help them improve their basic communication skills and thereby to promote their success at Rice.  I felt close to my FWIS students and maintained contact with several of them throughout their years at Rice.  One did some excellent research in my laboratory!
    Kate Beckingham
    Professor, BioSciences
  • FWIS Spotlight

    FWIS is one of my favorite courses to teach. It offers me the chance to interact with a small group of new students who are brimming with ideas and excitement about Rice. I always feel that going through the experience helps my teaching in other courses, too, especially because the PWC offers outstanding pedagogical ideas and resources to FWIS instructors.
    W. Caleb McDaniel
    Associate Professor, History
  • FWIS Spotlight

    I initially decided to teach a FWIS because I wanted to design a course that focused primarily on policy writing and communication with the goal of helping students find and use their voice to make social change happen. I'm back this semester teaching the class for my third time. I love the small class size and the sense of community that develops in the FWIS. I get to see the freshman grow and develop as writers and thinkers and be a part of this learning process. It's a unique and very rewarding teaching experience.
    Melissa Marschall
    Professor, Political Science