Skip to main content
Unit of study_

OLET2110: Telling True Stories

Semester 2b, 2021 [Block mode] - Remote

Students learn to write a narrative nonfiction story that communicates specialist knowledge they have gained in their university course to a general audience. Twelve modules guide students through the writing process, from pitching a story idea to preparing their piece for publication. Topics covered include narrative nonfiction subgenres, research, scene building, structure, ethics and style.

Unit details and rules

Unit code OLET2110
Academic unit Media and Communications
Credit points 2
Prohibitions
? 
None
Prerequisites
? 
None
Corequisites
? 
None
Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Cheryl O'Byrne, cheryl.obyrne@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz online quiz 2
content from modules 3 and 4
12.5% Mid-semester break
Due date: 03 Oct 2021 at 23:59
multiple choice questions
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Participation online participation
participate in at least 4 online discussions
10% Multiple weeks 4 x 75 words
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO8 LO7 LO6
Tutorial quiz online quiz 1
content from modules 1 and 2
12.5% Week 07
Due date: 26 Sep 2021 at 23:59
multiple choice questions
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment story pitch
pitch your story idea for a general readership
20% Week 09
Due date: 17 Oct 2021 at 23:59
250 words
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO6
Assignment narrative nonfiction story
write an original, polished narrative nonfiction story
45% Week 13
Due date: 14 Nov 2021 at 23:59
950 words
Outcomes assessed: LO7 LO8 LO9

Assessment summary

  • Online quizzes: respond to multiple choice questions about the content in Modules 1-4 
  • Online participation: respond to at least 4 online discussion questions for Modules 5-12
  • Story pitch: write a pitch to an editor in which you tell her about your story idea and ask if she’d be interested in publishing it 
  • Narrative nonfiction story: compose the story that you pitched. It will communicate specialised knowledge you’ve gained in your uni course to a general reader.  

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Students must attempt all assessments to earn a passing mark for this unit.

Assessment criteria

Story Pitch 

Result Name Mark Range Description
High Distinction 85-100 Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating an excellent standard of written English, a thoughtful structure and substantial independent learning. Story idea is clearly and succinctly outlined, original, newsworthy, researched and suited to the publication. Writer’s qualifications are excellent. Pitch is compelling. 
Distinction 75-84 Work of superior quality, demonstrating a command of written English, an efficient structure and independent learning. Story idea is clearly outlined, newsworthy, researched and suited to the publication. Writer’s qualifications are sound. Pitch is attractive. 
Credit 65-74 A sound performance, competent and appropriate. Pitch is well written. Story idea is outlined and writer’s qualifications are established. Demonstrates a clear grasp of the basic skills and knowledge.
Pass 50-64 A satisfactory attempt to meet the demands of the assignment. Demonstrates understanding and command of basic skills and core knowledge. The assignment may have significant weaknesses, or may not be wholly successful or coherent, but shows at least satisfactory achievement in more important aspects.

Narrative Nonfiction Story 

Result Name Mark Range Description
High Distinction 85-100 Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating an excellent standard of written English and substantial independent learning. Story displays exhaustive research, sophisticated scene setting, a sophisticated narrative structure and polished language. Story is ethically sound, engages and educates its readers, is innovative and is newsworthy.
Distinction 75-84 Work of superior quality, demonstrating a command of written English and independent learning. Story displays substantial research, effective scene setting, an effective narrative structure and effective language. Story is ethically sound, interests and educates its readers, is original and is newsworthy. 
Credit 65-74 A sound performance, competent and appropriate. Demonstrates a clear grasp of the basic skills and knowledge. Story displays research, scene setting, a coherent narrative structure and clear language. Story is ethical, educates its readers and is newsworthy.
Pass 50-64 A satisfactory attempt to meet the demands of the assignment. Demonstrates understanding and command of basic skills and core knowledge. The assignment may have significant weaknesses, or may not be wholly successful or coherent, but shows at least satisfactory achievement in more important aspects.

 

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Mid-semester break Narrative nonfiction subgenres Seminar (1 hr) LO3
Finding your narrative nonfiction story Seminar (1 hr) LO4
Week 07 What is narrative nonfiction? Seminar (1 hr) LO1
Why is narrative nonfiction valuable? Seminar (1 hr) LO2
Week 08 Researching your narrative nonfiction story Seminar (1 hr) LO5
Pitching Seminar (1 hr) LO6
Week 09 Building scenes: description Seminar (1 hr) LO7
Building scenes: dialogue Seminar (1 hr) LO7
Week 10 Showing and telling (balancing scenes with exposition) Seminar (1 hr) LO7
Structure Seminar (1 hr) LO7
Week 11 Ethical considerations Seminar (1 hr) LO8
Revising and polishing Seminar (1 hr) LO9

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 2 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 40-50 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this uni can be accessed through Canvas. 

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. distinguish narrative nonfiction from other modes of academic or journalistic writing
  • LO2. discuss why the narrative nonfiction form is valuable
  • LO3. recognise narrative nonfiction subgenres
  • LO4. identify a story topic and angle from a body of knowledge
  • LO5. augment academic knowledge with journalism research methods
  • LO6. compose a story pitch to a publication that serves a general readership
  • LO7. recognise and apply narrative techniques such as scene setting and a narrative structure
  • LO8. discuss ethical challenges and standards of narrative nonfiction and apply them to your story
  • LO9. produce an original, polished narrative nonfiction story

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This unit was first offered in 2020. This year's offering is building on the strengths recognised by that first cohort, including: logical flow of ideas; clear instructions; a variety of learning resources; self-directed modules combined with optional zoom workshops for sharing drafts; and a high level of interactivity with the instructor. Students noted a desire to see student-composed exemplars and I will be able to offer these in 2021. I have also slightly decreased the word count for discussion posts so I could increase the length of the final story (as students requested).

Disclaimer

The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.