Technical Communication

Program in Technical Communication at UTK
The Department of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville offers the BA, MA, and PhD in English. All students aspiring to the English major must satisfy prerequisites and then satisfy one of the four concentration options: Rhetoric & Writing, Literature, Creative Writing, or Technical Communication. The student must also satisfy the requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, completing a minimum of 124 semester hours.

Prerequisites for the BA in English are:

English 101-02 (or Honors English)
A two-course package in sophomore literature: 201-02 (British Lit.), 221-222 (Lit. of Western World), 231-32-33 (American Lit.; any combination), or 251-52-53 (Intro. to Poetry, Drama, Fiction; any combination).

Note: some upper-division courses have additional prerequisites, as detailed in the Undergraduate Studies in English handbook.

The Technical Communication Concentration requires, in addition to these prerequisites, 30 hours of work at the upper-division level, distributed as follows:

1. English 360 and any combination of two courses chosen from 460, 462, and 466 (9 hours).

2. One other course in rhetoric and writing (3 hours).

3. Four courses in literature, two of which must be before 1900, and at least one of those before 1800 (12 hours).

4. One course in language, in theory, or in cultural, ethnic, or gender studies (3 hours).

5. One course in any departmental offering (3 hours).

At the MA level, students must take 30 semester hours beyond the BA; the PhD requires 54 hours beyond the BA as well as 24 hours of dissertation. Several graduate-level Readings and Special Topics courses in tech comm are available; graduate students may choose to write a thesis or dissertation on a tech comm topic.

Internships in tech comm are recommended but not required. Credit for internships may be granted under an Independent Study arrangement with the faculty.

For the non-English major, an English Minor With Technical Communication Emphasis is available. It consists of at least 15 semester hours of English courses chosen from the following:

At least three courses in technical communication (chosen from 360, 460, 462, 466, or any special topics course being offered in technical communication),
One course in expository writing, argumentative writing, language, rhetoric, or another technical communication course (chosen from 355, 360, 371, 372, 455, 460, 462, 466, 470, 471, 472, 484, 485, 495, 496), and
One other 300- or 400-level English course.

In other words, you may take as few as three tech comm courses and still get the minor, so long as your “fouth course” is in rhetoric, writing, linguistics/language, or some special topics course defined as falling into one of these categories. Or you may take all four of the upper-division tech comm courses. Either way, you may then take any other upper-division English course to complete the minor.

Courses in Tech Comm:

Business and Technical Writing (English 295). Principles of written and spoken communication in science and business.

Advanced Technical and Professional Writing (English 360).Resumes, process descriptions, sets of instructions, descriptions of mechanisms, recommendation reports, abstracts, proposals, and major reports. For students planning careers in industry, education, and government.

Technical Editing (English 460). Grammar & mechanics, copyediting, style, organization, graphics, electronic editing, professional concerns. Major portfolio assignment. Essential for students planning to work as technical editors.

Writing for Publication (English 462). Principles and practices of writing for publication. Dissertations, theses, articles, and reports in science and technology. English majors who take this course develop their skills as writers, teachers, and editors by coaching graduate students who are writing in other disciplines.

Writing, Layout, and Production of Technical Documents (English 466). Principles of page design, typography, and layout. Using scanners, electronic art, and DTP software. Conducted in a PC computer lab.

Special Topics in Writing (English 484). Content varies. Focuses on specific genres or problems (for example, “Rhetoric, Ethics, and Technical Communication”).

Special Topics in Writing (English 582). Content varies. Director of graduate studies must approve enrollment.

Readings in Applied Rhetoric (English 588). Content varies (for example, writing across the curriculum, writing centers, technical communication).

Studies in Technical Communication (English 684). Content varies. Advanced work in technical communication history, theory, and practice.

Special Topics (English 690). Content varies. Advanced work in technical communication history, theory, and practice.

Note: Independent Study courses may be taken under the direction of a member of the regular faculty. Regular faculty in UTK’s tech comm program are:

Dr. Russel Hirst
Associate Professor
Director, Program in Tech Comm
865.974.6952 (o)
865.974.6926 (fax)
865.974.5401 (sec)

Dr. Michael Keene
865.974.6969 (o)
865.974.6926 (fax)
865.974.5401 (sec)

Several other tech comm faculty teach as instructors and adjunct professors.