CMNS 1811: Business, Professional, and Academic Composition

Students in this course learn the theory and the practice of successful academic, business, and professional writing. They examine the similarities and differences involved in writing for business and academic purposes. Students also study and apply conventional methods of academic research and documentation involved in completing essays and reports.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. Recognize and explain the features that make business and professional writing both similar to and different from academic writing;
  2. Recognize and correct common grammatical errors in writing and speech;
  3. Recognize and adjust writing that is inappropriate to academic, business, and professional situations in tone, style, audience match, visual organization, focus on purpose, and/or choice of channel;
  4. Create documents for academic and business situations requiring definition, description, comparison, cause/effect, process analysis, and division/classification modes of development;
  5. Design and create documents that meet or exceed the expectations of the relevant academic, business, and professional communities; and
  6. Research a topic through primary and secondary research techniques and sources.

Course topics

Unit 1: Introduction to Communication and Technical Writing

Unit 2: Visual Literacy and Document Design

Unit 3: Introduction to Rhetorics

Unit 4: Rhetorics: Content, Clarity, and Organization

Unit 5: Rhetorics: Mechanics - Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, and Similar Issues

Unit 6: Critical Thinking and Writing

Unit 7: Professional Correspondence

Unit 8: Exposition and Description

Unit 9: Cause/Effect, Division/Classification, and Process Writing

Unit 10: Secondary Research

Unit 11: Primary Research

Unit 12: Improving Formal Reports

Required text and materials

Students are required to source the following on their own:

  1. Gerson, S. J., & Gerson, S. M. (2018). Technical communication: Process and product. (9th ed.) Columbus, OH: Pearson.
    Type: Textbook, ISBN: 978-0-13-467886-3

Note: Available as an eText from VitalSource ISBN: 978-0-13-467886-3)

Optional materials

  1. Woods, G. (2010).English grammar for dummies (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
    ISBN-10: 0470546646 ISBN-13: 9780470546642.

    This is a useful resource for students who consistently make mechanical errors in writing (sentence grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and similar mistakes).

  2. Online or print copies of a Canadian Oxford Dictionary and/or a Thesaurus.


To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the mandatory final project.

Assignment 1 (document analysis and design) 10%
Grammar Quiz 1 5%
Assignment 2 (persuasive essay) 10%
Assignment 3 (expository essay) 10%
Assignment 4 (rhetorical modes essay) 10%
Grammar Quiz 2 5%
Grammar Quiz 3 5%
Unit Writing Tasks 25%
Final Project: Research Report (mandatory) 20%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students.The primary communication is by phone if you are taking the print version of the course and through “Mail” tool in the Learning Environment if you are taking the web version. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.

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