Using needs analysis as a research methodology, this study attempted to design a 20 hour academic writing (AW) course for Level 2 Foundation Year Saudi EFL students. Needs analysis was based on a diagnostic test, structured questionnaires, and researcher’s observation to obtain information on students’ language and skills needs, profile, levels of motivation, and learning styles and preferences. The results showed that the students did not have the writing proficiency for producing longer compositions and, therefore, the course should focus on appropriate language systems and skills to help learners with writing paragraphs based on two rhetorical strategies: cause and effect; and exemplification. The course content provides for the appropriate language systems and skills as voiced by the students and needed for writing these two types of paragraphs. The study also points to a course evaluation strategy that can be used for validation and future use of the proposed course.