About plans for teaching online during the corona virus pandemic

This page is a course guide and teaching supplement for my students at Seijo University, Tokyo, Japan. It is not a part of the official website of the university, as it contains information related only to my classes.

The syllabus listed below was made after the corona virus pandemic forced a change in the original plan. During the second semester, the course will be taught online with some changes made to the original plan. I hope to keep my teaching technology as simple as possible. We will hold some online classes during the scheduled class time (Wednesday 13:00-14:30).

I will communicate with students through this website, the university's WebClass system, and email, phone calls, and internet phone calls (Skype, Google Hangout, LINE and so on). I will be available to communicate with students every Wednesday, 13:00-14:30 (the usual class time) and other times, if necessary. Because this is a writing course, you will of course need to have a computer. Personal computers are not required for some courses, but there is no way a student could do research for a thesis and write a thesis efficiently without a computer.

The number of students in this course is usually low, so I will change my plans according to the students' abilities and interests. In fact, there are usually just one or two students, so I can change the course to give individualized help. The plan in the syllabus might change quite a lot. However, keep in mind that you need to be at an advanced level of English if you plan to write your thesis in English.

You have to check three things regularly: this website, WebClass, and your university email account (



Thesis Writing [b] Autumn Semester

Course Description 

This elective course is intended for any student who might wish to write his or her graduation thesis in English. Eligible students will have attained high grades in previous English courses and they will have to demonstrate good writing ability in the first class in order to succeed in this challenging course. The content will be adapted to the needs of the students. It will cover all stages of writing a thesis: (1) conception, (2) research, (3) citation and referencing, (4) outlining, (5) writing drafts, (6) revising and (7) writing an abstract and formatting the final document. Steps (1)-(4) will be covered in the first semester [a] and steps (5)-(7) will be covered in the second semester [b].

Course Goals            

Students will develop the planning and research skills necessary to write a graduation thesis in English, and they will continue to improve their writing skills and knowledge of English grammar. During the first semester, they will produce an outline of an original graduation thesis to be written in English. During the second semester the research and planning phase will be mostly complete, so students will concentrate on writing and revising drafts of their theses. 

Teaching Methods 

The method, materials and approach will be extremely flexible, as these will depend on the existing skills of the students and the plans they develop for writing a thesis. Students should not think of this course as an error-checking or proofreading service provided by a teacher who is a native speaker of English. Students will be expected to diligently apply the rules of grammar and word usage and to check their own work for errors before they submit it to the teacher. Writing a graduation thesis will be more challenging than the shorter writing assignments of other courses. 

Course Schedule

1.       Course introduction. Progress report: discussion of students' work during the break between semesters.

2.       Elements of paragraphs: topic sentences, elaboration, examples, repetition, conclusion, transition to the next paragraph.

3.       The nested structure of linear texts: looking at texts as containers of information that have labels, elaborated content, examples, repetition and conclusions.

4.       Ways of reporting and presenting data, dates, names and other factual information in tables, graphs, lists and so on. Submit draft of work done thus far.

5.       Progress report. Discussion of students' work thus far.

6.       Writing skill: introducing and including examples.

7.       Writing skill: describing sequences of events.

8.       Writing skill: ways to write comparisons and contrasts, supporting these with tables and graphics.

9.       In-text citations: including the words of other writers, ways to do citation, paraphrasing, quoting, block quotes, where to put the reference anchor, and so on. Submit draft of work done thus far.

10.   Progress report. Discussion of students' work thus far. Distinguishing the words and ideas of others from those of the author, avoiding plagiarism. Writing tentatively: language structures for expressing uncertainty about hypotheses and research findings.

11.   "Further research is necessary:" Describing the findings and limitations of research, making tentative conclusions.

12.   Examples of uncertainty and understatement in the conclusions of research papers. Students submit penultimate (nearly final) draft of work done thus far.

13.   Progress report: final review of students' drafts before they submit their theses. Final draft to be submitted by a deadline yet to be announced (mid-December).

14.   Course assessment. Group discussion about the year-long process of writing a thesis. Students self-evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, which parts of the course they found useful.

15.   Final writing skill assessment. Students will do a brief in-class writing assessment task in order to contrast their writing with the assessment task they did in the first week of April.

Self-study outside of Course Hours (Assignments, Preparation and Review etc.) 

With the research and planning phase completed in the first semester, students will focus this semester on writing and continually revising. It will be very important to stay on schedule with the plans for both the first and second semester. 

Assessment Criteria and Methods       

Completion of research, reading and preparation on schedule 70

Participation 30 

The thesis submitted at the end of the academic year will be evaluated separately from the work done in this course. The teacher of this writing course is not the thesis advisor. Evaluation in this course will be based on the student's success in completing tasks on schedule and working constantly toward the goal of completing a graduation thesis. 


No textbook required. 

Expectations for Enrolled Students 

This course has been planned with an expectation that most students will want to register for both semesters [a] and [b]. Thus the plan for the second semester [b] continues from what is planned for the first semester [a]. Students will benefit the most from taking both semesters, but they may choose to register for only one semester. A flexible arrangement can be made for any students who choose to register for only one semester. Nonetheless, students are strongly advised to register for both semesters because few students are likely to be able to complete a thesis in English without the support provided during both semesters. 

Method to Contact the Lecturer 

riches[at] or WebClass