Spring 2024 - FAL X99 D001

Foundations of Academic Literacy (4)

Class Number: 3995

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, Thu, 12:30–2:20 p.m.



An introduction to the kinds of reading and writing students will encounter in lower division courses across the university disciplines. Important aspects of the writing process are discussed and illustrated in class, and students receive individual feedback on their academic writing. Students who take this class will be graded using a Competency Based grading system (Pass/Fail). Students who wish to use the course to meet the language proficiency prerequisite of a writing-intensive course must obtain a P (equivalent to a C or better). Enrollment priority is given to undergraduate students who have not yet met the language proficiency prerequisite of a writing-intensive course. Students who receive an F grade on their first attempt at the course may re-enroll. No student may attempt the course more than twice. Units from this course count toward the units required for an SFU degree. The offering of this course is for credit.


Below is  type of material that is typically covered in FAL. Please note that your instructor may change the activities or the order of activities.

Academic literacy

  • reading and writing in university
  • critical reflection on views, beliefs, and previous learning about academic writing
  • reading and annotating academic texts
  • understanding genre and audience

Academic integrity

  • Fundamentals of academic integrity
  • SFU academic integrity policy
  • plagiarism, patchwriting, and paraphrasing
  • citation and referencing styles in academic writing

Working with other texts: summary

  • Summarizing
  • Paraphrasing
  • Quoting
  • Attribution/citation
  • practicing summaries of various lengths, text types

Working with other texts: response

  • critical thinking
  • argumentation
  • strategies for responding to texts


  • library resources/database searches and other online search tools
  • brainstorming and developing research questions
  • locating and evaluating credible sources
  • skimming/scanning/annotating academic texts for use in research papers
  • outlining
  • drafting
  • peer feedback
  • revising
  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • sentence structure
  • academic style


The course aims to provide students with a variety of opportunities to practice, develop, improve, and apply in context, different forms of academic literacy (reading, writing, and oral communication). FAL offers an introduction to the kinds of reading and writing students may encounter in lower division courses across the university disciplines. Important aspects of the writing process are discussed and illustrated in class, and students will receive individual feedback on your academic writing.


  • Active learning* 10%
  • Summary unit 25%
  • Response unit 30%
  • Research unit 35%


(*at the instructor’s discretion, active learning  may include engagement in class, giving helpful peer feedback, improvement during the course, revision of writing tasks, completion of readings, and/or quizzes.)

As of Fall 2023, FAL X99 is a for-credit course: the 4 units earned in FAL will count toward your total credits toward graduation.


FAL X99 is graded on a pass/fail basis using a SFU’s competency-based grading system, which is “based on satisfactory acquisition of defined skills or successful completion of the course learning outcomes”.

A grade of P, “satisfactory performance or better,” will be considered equivalent to a C or better. A P grade has no numerical equivalent and does not affect your term grade point average or your cumulative GPA.

A Grade of F (fail, unsatisfactory performance) has the numerical equivalent of 0.00 and would affect your GPA and CGPA as an F in any other course would.


All coursework must be demonstrably original work. Unless otherwise noted by your instructor, the use of generative AI such as ChatGPT is not permitted.


Regular attendance is expected in this course. A class register is taken each class, marking absences and late attendance. If you are going to be late or absent due to unavoidable circumstances, you must inform your instructor by email before the class. If you have a regular commitment where you will be required to be off campus or away, make sure that your FAL class is not on this day as this absence will impact your grades for the course. Being absent or late for any class without informing the instructor may affect your active learning score.

If you have unexcused absences for more than 5 classes, will receive a grade of F.

If you miss an assessed in-class writing assignment without a justifiable/documented reason, you will receive an N (“incomplete”) grade for that assignment and, therefore, an N grade for the course (which is numerically equivalent to an F grade) if you are unable to make it up.



There is not a common textbook across all sections of FAL. However, the following books may be recommended or required. Check with your instructor.

Heng Hartse, J. (2023). TL;DR: A Very Brief Guide to Reading and Writing in University. UBC Press/On Campus Books.

This book is available in bookstores and online, and is also available as a free, downloadable Open Access PDF from the publisher here: https://www.ubcpress.ca/tldr

Marshall, S. (2017). Advance in Academic Writing Book 2. Pearson/ERPI

(Please note this is Book 2 with a light blue cover – not Book 1 with a purple cover. There is a digital eText version (ISBN: 978-2-7613-8266-3) available: https://www.pearsonerpi.com/en/elt/eap/advance-in-academic-writing-2-etext-my-elab-12-months-a38266

Other reading materials will be handed out and/or made available on Canvas by your instructor.

Your instructor may ask you to bring a laptop for in-class writing activities during some classes.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html