To accomplish the goals of the Writing Program, most students complete two core courses: Writing 140 (Writing and Critical Reasoning), a lower division course offered in affiliation with a General Education Category VI (Social Issues) course; and Writing 340, an advanced writing course generally taken during the student's junior year at USC. On the basis of a placement examination administered at USC, certain students are also required to complete an introductory course, either Writing 120 (Introduction to College Writing) or the companion course for non-native speakers of English,
Writing 121 (Introduction to College Writing in a Second Language). In Writing 140 students develop a fundamental understanding of the writing process and of the writer/reader transaction, and then use this understanding to communicate their purpose effectively and to enhance the readability of their texts. Over the course of the semester students apply these core reading and writing skills to progressively challenging texts and to more demanding writing tasks as they learn to situate their own writing within the context of the academic community.
While the basic context for the presentation of these writing skills in Writing 140 is supplied through the content of the affiliated Social Issues course, it is crucial for teachers and students alike to understand that Writing 140 is an independent course in symbiotic relationship with the Social Issues course. Both courses are enhanced by the affiliation, but the courses have independent requirements, assignments, and goals. The Social Issues course supplies the Writing course with rich occasions for the development of assignments, freeing Writing 140 to concentrate upon its true business, the development of writing skills, rhetorical judgment, and critical thinking abilities.