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General information: SLC writing contest

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Please note:

The 2017 writing contest has now wrapped up.

See Winners: The SLC writing contest to learn about the winners of our inaugural undergraduate writing contest. 

Details about future writing contests will be posted as soon as they become available.

Thank you for your interest.


Details about the 2017 SLC Undergraduate Writing Contest

All eligible undergraduates are invited to submit a paper to the inaugural Student Learning Commons writing contest.

Winning entries will be awarded a cash prize. All winners and “honourable mention” papers will be published on the SLC web site as examples of strong writing across the disciplines.

All submissions will be assessed by a panel of judges comprised of SFU faculty members and an SLC representative.

The SLC warmly encourages submissions from students for whom English is an additional language. Elements that are unique to writing in an additional language will be considered when selecting contest winners.


In each category, students are invited to enter a paper that has been or will be submitted to any SFU course between January 1 and December 31, 2017.

Papers may be revised before submission in order to meet the contest guidelines and to address outstanding comments from the professor or TA. Students may choose to attend an SLC writing consultation to support their revisions.

Open Undergraduate Category 

SFU undergraduate students who have completed 30-89 credits may enter in this category.

Winning entries will be awarded a prize:

  • First prize: $200
  • Second prize: $150
  • Third prize: $100

SLC Peer Category 

Current and former SLC Learning, Writing, and EAL Peers may enter in this category, so long as they are registered as SFU undergraduate students in Fall 2017.

One $200 prize will be awarded to the strongest Peer paper received.


December 5th 2017, or until the maximum number of papers has been received for a given category.

We will accept the first 25 papers for each category. If the first 25 papers received are not strong enough to award a full roster of prizes, we will consider additional papers in the order in which they are received.


Basic criteria

In each category, papers must be between 1,250 and 2,500 words long and be written in language and style understandable by an educated, interdisciplinary audience.

Higher order concerns

  • The paper’s central thesis, focus, hypothesis, or observation is perceptive, incisive, and richly developed.
  • Research is employed in developing the key argument and is compared and contrasted (as appropriate).
  • A deep, nuanced understanding of the subject matter is evident throughout the paper.
  • The writing style engages the reader.
  • The paper is well organized.

Lower order concerns

  • Skillful transitions between paragraphs and arguments
  • Vocabulary is well-chosen and there is variety in sentence structures.
  • Few, if any, errors in citation.
  • Factors such as grammar, mechanics, syntax, word choice, sentence structure and punctuation will be considered in a manner that does not disadvantage writers who have English as an Additional Language

Judges are encouraged not to discount papers that are “written with an accent” by EAL writers, while otherwise meeting the demands of excellence according to the criteria. “Writing with an accent” means the expression doesn't interfere with meaning. That is, as we read, we easily incorporate the "accent."

Contest entrants are allowed to revise papers they have originally submitted for a course to fit the contest's criteria, particularly the word count and the expectation that the paper will be understandable by an educated, interdisciplinary audience.

To support you in meeting the contest criteria, we strongly encourage you to attend an SLC writing consultation about your paper before submitting it for the contest. Book a writing consultation.


After the judges have made their selections, the SLC will run the winners and honourable mentions by the instructors for whom the papers were originally written. If an instructor expresses a concern about a paper, that paper will be disqualified from the contest.

Winners will be contacted and results will be posted on the SLC website in January 2018.

A celebration of contest winners will be held in the W.A.C Bennett library (SFU Burnaby) on January 31st, 4:30-6pm.

Judging panels

The judging panel for the Open Undergraduate Awards:

The judging panel for the SLC Peer Award:

Entry form

See the SLC Writing Contest entry form for details on formatting your entry.

Questions can be directed to