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Course Syllabus

Course syllabus.

Professor Patrick Barry is a clinical assistant professor and the director of digital academic initiatives at the University of Michigan Law School. His teaching and research focus on creating a new vocabulary to talk about advocacy.

He is the author of Good with Words: Writing and EditingNotes on Nuance, and the multivolume series The Syntax of Sports.

An All-American soccer player in college, Professor Barry earned his law degree from the University of Chicago, where he was a member of the Law Review and won both the Thomas R. Mulroy Prize in Appellate Advocacy and the Ann Barber Watson Prize for Outstanding Service. After law school, Professor Barry completed a PhD in English at the University of Michigan, with a special focus on the theatrical aspects of Supreme Court confirmation hearings. During that time, he worked with other Michigan faculty to create Clinnect, a global network of legal clinics devoted to combatting human trafficking. He then did a dual clerkship in Las Vegas with the Hon. Jennifer A. Dorsey and the Hon. Andrew P. Gordon. 

Among Professor Barry’s teaching awards are the Wayne Booth Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the Provost’s Innovation in Teaching Prize, and the Outstanding Research Mentor Award. In addition, he was recently selected as a Faculty Fellow by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s Center for Educational Outreach and as a Faculty Diversity Ally by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. A member of the California bar, he splits his teaching time between the University of Michigan Law School, the University of Chicago Law School, and the UCLA School of Law. He also regularly works with law firms, state governments, and nonprofit organizations to improve their written and spoken advocacy.

Course Syllabus


Welcome to “Writing and Editing: Drafting,” the third course in the four-course Good with Words: Writing and Editing series. The sections below are designed to give you a general sense of what to expect in terms of participation, academic honesty, and other important aspects of the course. 

Participation Strategies

Engaged learning looks different for everybody. In this course, we hope you will define your own measures of success and engage with the material in a way that best suits your needs.

We recognize and celebrate the diverse ways learners engage in courses. As you go through this course, we hope you will reflect on your unique skills, needs, and aspirations, and engage in the course material in a way that aligns with your own goals. While the course provides time estimates for completion, you should feel empowered to engage in the material in whatever ways make sense to you.

Tips for Success

  • Take advantage of the rich set of videos and reading. They include a diverse, global range of examples and ideas.
  • Complete the low-stakes practice quizzes and optional exercises. As we’ll stress throughout the series, you can’t simply read or think your way to better speaking skills. You have to develop them, often slowly, through a not-always-comfortable mix of practice, feedback, reflection, and adjustment. Preparation is key. Humility is key. And so is the capacity to productively fail. It can be tough to figure out how to hold people’s attention if you don’t learn from times you have squandered that attention.

Ground Rules

We expect everyone to be mindful of what they say and its potential impact on others. The goal is to have respectful discussions that do not violate the community space created for these conversations. Here are some productive ways to engage in this course: 

  • Participate: This is a community. Read what others have written and share your thoughts.
  • Stay curious: Learn from experts and each other by listening and asking questions, not making assumptions.
  • Keep your passion positive: When replying to a discussion forum post, respond with thoughts on what was said, not about the person who posted. Avoid using all caps, too many exclamation points, or aggressive language.
  • Acknowledge discomfort:The topics discussed in this course might be challenging or hard to talk about. Stick with it and remember the benefits of having these tough conversations that surface from multiple perspectives.

We expect all learners to abide by our full Learner Engagement Policy. We will specifically be monitoring this course for language that could be considered inflammatory, incivil, racist, or otherwise unacceptable for this learning space, and we will remove language deemed such.

Please note that external study groups on applications like WhatsApp are not affiliated or endorsed by the University of Michigan. We strongly discourage joining external groups and instead recommend interacting with your fellow learners within the platform.

Please express caution if you do join or post any personal information in these forums or in these groups. These forums are publicly accessible and any information you post may be collected, published, or used in an exploitative manner (scams, etc).

Academic Honesty

All submitted work should be your own and academic dishonesty is not allowed. Academic dishonesty can be defined as:

  • Copying answers
  • Copying words, ideas, or other materials from another source without giving credit to the original author
  • Copying from your peers within the course
  • Employing or allowing another person to alter or revise your work, and then submitting the work as your own

Course Support

Questions and discussion of course material should take place within the course itself. Please do not contact instructors or teaching assistants off the platform, as responding to individual questions is virtually impossible.

We encourage you to direct your questions to Comments, where your question might be answered by a fellow learner or one of our course team members. For technical help please contact the FutureLearn Help Cente.


We are committed to developing accessible learning experiences for the widest possible audience. We recognize that learners with disabilities (including but not limited to visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, or motor disabilities) might need more specific accessibility-related support to achieve learning goals in this course. 

Please use the accessibility feedback form to let us know about any accessibility challenges or concerns that cannot be addressed in Comments, such as urgent issues that keep you from making progress in the course (e.g., missing or inadequate alt-text, captioning errors).

Diversity, Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Statement

This online community affirms the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. We seek to have a diverse group of learners, including persons of different race and ethnicity, national origin, gender and gender expression, socioeconomic status, educational background, sexual orientation, religious commitment, age, and disability status. Our goal is that this course serves as an inclusive experience in which all participants, both instructors and learners, co-create and co-sustain environments that encourage all members to participate equitably.

We strive to create a community of mutual respect and trust, a community in which all persons and their respective backgrounds, identities and views are allowed to be made visible and communicated without the threat of bias, harassment, intimidation, or discrimination.

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Writing and Editing: Drafting

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