Writing Competency Requirement for Computer Science

The majority of computer science major students will fulfill their writing competency requirement by taking ENGL 313 (Writing in the Disciplines) during their junior year. This became the requirement starting with the 18/19 Biola catalog. If you are in an earlier catalog, you will use the following instructions and submit a paper to the computer science programs administrative coordinator. Also, if you have completed the IGETC, you will use this assignment in place of ENGL 313. If you are a transfer student, consult your computer science faculty advisor to see which method will be required for your situation.

*For Torrey Honors students starting with the 2020–21 Biola catalog, they will take ENGL 313 to fulfill the writing competency requirement. Students in earlier catalog years will follow the instructions below and submit their paper to the Department of Math and Computer Science.

For all students: Do not hesitate to contact your computer science faculty for assistance with this project.

  1. Overview:To fulfill the writing competency requirement in computer science, the student needs to find a well-defined topic in computer science, locate and study the related literature on the subject, write a literature survey paper based on the study, and submit the paper for evaluation and approval by the faculty.
  2. When to start: The student should start working on the writing competency paper in their junior year, and ideally should spend two semesters working on it.
  3. Identifying the topic: The first step of the process is to identify an interesting topic in computer science for an in-depth study. Survey articles in journals such as Communications of the ACM and AI Magazine (both available online from the Biola library) are good sources for identifying possible topics. The student is also encouraged to consult the faculty to look for a topic in the context of an upper-division course in a subject area of interest to the student.
  4. Development of a draft: The student is encouraged to consult the faculty to tailor the direction and the range of the study to cover the topic. The student should have a study plan on the selected topic and devise the framework of the paper to write accordingly. The student should then follow the study plan to flesh out the details of the paper based on the understanding/findings from the study. When the first draft is completed, the student may consult the sponsoring instructor for feedback before submission for evaluation.
  5. Rules of integrity: The paper should be the result of the study project to convey to the reader what the student has learned from the study. Plagiarizing contents from books and articles will end in discipline actions including the total rejection of the paper.
  6. Format and style of the paper:
    • The paper should have a title, an abstract of its contents, a section of introduction to the main subject of the paper and the approach of the study, followed by the main technical sections to explore the subject, a section of conclusions on the findings through the study, and ended with references to books and articles cited in the paper.
    • The paper should have at least eight pages in its contents (excluding the title page, the abstract, and the sources), double spaced between lines, using Times New Romans 12-point font or its compatible fonts.
    • A paper written like a manual of computer systems is not acceptable. The paper should be written as a regular article with all technical terms and acronyms well defined before they are used in paper. The contents of the paper must coherently describe the topic, the study, and the findings.
    • Instructions for Writing a Literature Survey Paper
    • Computer Science WCR Paper Template
    • Sample WCR Paper for Computer Science
  7. Final submission of the paper: The student should improve the draft based on the feedback from the sponsoring instructor and then submit the final paper to the department secretary. The paper should be submitted no later than the first week of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. The paper submitted should be registered by the department secretary first, and then evaluated anonymously by two faculty members. Accordingly the student should only put down the student ID instead of the full name on the paper.
  8. Due date and graduation: The paper should be submitted no later than the first week of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Submission after the due date does not allow the time needed for the faculty to read and provide feedback and for the student to revise accordingly. Failing to submit the paper by the due date may end in the delay of graduation to a later semester. The paper will be approved as a fulfillment of the writing competency requirement in computer science if it receives at least an average of 3 points from the grading faculty.


  • Grading rubric: The quality of the paper will be evaluated according to rubric for computer science writing competency paper. The paper will be approved as a fulfillment of the writing competency requirement in computer science if it receives at least an average of 3 points from the grading faculty. If the paper fails to meet the standard, the student has to revise the paper further and resubmit the paper again.
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