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Unit outline_

OLET2110: Telling True Stories

Semester 2b, 2023 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

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

Academic unit Media and Communications
Credit points 2
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Cheryl O'Byrne,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Story pitch
Pitch your creative nonfiction story idea to an editor in email form
20% -
Due date: 01 Oct 2023 at 23:59
300 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Narrative nonfiction story
Compose a nonfiction story based on your uni major
70% Week 13
Due date: 03 Nov 2023 at 23:59
1200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Tutorial quiz Quizzes
Short multiple choice quizzes on weekly content
10% Weekly 5 quizzes, 10 questions each
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

See Canvas for assessment details. Late penalties apply per University guidelines. 

Assessment criteria


Result Name Mark Range Description
High Distinction 85-100 Rubrics with descriptions for two assignments are available on Canvas. 
Distinction 75-84  
Credit 65-74  
Pass 50-64  



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
Week 07 What is narrative nonfiction? / Why is it valuable? Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 08 Finding your story idea / Pitching your story Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 09 Researching your story / Writing scenes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 10 Structuring your narrative / Showing while telling Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO4
Week 11 Ethical considerations / Revising and polishing Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 12 Workshopping story drafts Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO6
Week 13 Workshopping story drafts Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO6

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 unit 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 (and its subgenres) from other modes of academic or journalistic writing and discuss why the form is valuable
  • LO2. identify a viable story topic and angle and pitch the idea to a publication that serves a general readership
  • LO3. augment academic knowledge with journalism research methods
  • LO4. recognise and apply narrative techniques such as scene setting and a narrative structure
  • LO5. discuss ethical challenges and standards of narrative nonfiction and apply them to your story
  • LO6. complete the drafting and editing process to 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

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

Last year I trialled this unit in Semester 2 and this year, based on student feedback, I am returning to Semester 2B. I have changed the quizzes from 2 long quizzes to 5 shorter ones, and I have brought forward the pitch module and assignment.

Students must attempt all assignments to pass this unit. 


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

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