POL6606 Essay 2: Research Paper (no longer than 2,500 words)

Assessment instructions
Essay 2: Research Paper (no longer than 2,500 words). The essay is worth 70% of your final
mark, and must be submitted via Turnitin on MOLE using the template provided by the
Department.

You should write a research paper on a topic of your choice covered during the module. In
the course of the module, note the theoretical and empirical puzzles that emerge in the
literature, seminar discussion and/or coverage of the ongoing civil wars. You should use the
module materials and your own research to address the puzzle, demonstrate your argument
and draw conclusions on what you learned in the process.
Some of you asked me what a puzzle is. Simply put, it is a theoretical or empirical
observation that you have found surprising in the course of the module and that you would
want to explore further to better understand why and/or how it occurs. Alternatively, you
can think of it as a research question.
Some of you also asked how the research paper differs from a critical review. If a critical
review focuses on demonstrating your understanding of the selected core reading and
application of other core texts to critically assess that reading, a research aims to address a
puzzle or answer a research question, which means that you need to an argument on that
puzzle or question and use a range of materials to support it. This can be done using both
theoretical and empirical support.
The essay should have the following structure:
 The introduction should state your puzzle and argument;
 The body paragraphs* should
o Review the existing approaches to your puzzle;
o Propose an alternative argument;
o Develop the logic of the argument;
o Use up to 12 sources to support your argument.
 The conclusion should provide a brief summary, draw implications and ask further
questions.
*You are encouraged to use topic sentences that summarize your main ideas at the outset of
each paragraph.
The essay should include the following components:
 Identify a puzzle in the theoretical and/or empirical literature or contemporary
events;
 Identify alternative approaches to your puzzle in the literature covered in the
module;
 Develop an argument on whether and how the existing approaches identified in the
literature fall short in illuminating your puzzle;
 Identify up to 12 additional academic articles or book chapters that have not been
covered in the module but help illuminate your puzzle through individual research. Refer to
the StarPlus Library catalogue to conduct your research and use reliable sources (e.g. peer
reviewed journals) to support your argument;
 Draw on the literature covered in the module and identified in your own research to
propose an alternative explanation that illuminates your puzzle more convincingly than any
one existing approach (this does not have to be a novel argument and can combine a
number of existing explanations);
 Develop the logic of your argument (how x relates to y, what the process is);
 Support your argument in case(s)/dataset(s) (you can use any methodological
approach, including qualitative or quantitative analysis);
 Critically assess your argument, using questions such as
o Is your argument convincing?
o Does the evidence you used support your argument?
o What is overlooked and/or left unanswered?
o What questions/problems does your analysis raise?
o What are the implications of your research for our understanding of ongoing
civil wars?
The essay will be graded based on:
 The understanding of the existing approaches to civil war;
 The ability to engage the components of a research paper identified above;
The ability to support your claims and clarity of writing (structure identified above)
2. Marking scheme
The University’s marking scheme is based on a hundred point scale. The Department’s
approach to grading assessed work is positive, which means that students receive credit
for their achievements rather than having marks deducted for specific failings. The marking
of various types of assessed work involves somewhat different criteria, but in general
terms:
Work of a distinction standard (69.5+) can be described as excellent. It shows:
· A high degree of analytical skill in answering the question
· An excellent critical understanding of the relevant literature
· Evidence of wide reading around the question
· The ability to develop a clear, well structured and logical answer to the question
· The ability to write according to the rules of standard English
Work of a merit standard (60-69.5) can be described as very good. It shows to differing
degrees:
· Very good degree of analytical skill in answering a particular question
· Very good critical understanding of the relevant literature
· Evidence of varied reading beyond the question
· The ability to develop a well structured and logical answer to the question
· The ability to write according to the rules of standard English
Work of a pass standard (50-59.5) can be described as competent or good. It shows to
differing degrees:
· A substantial degree of analytical skill in answering a particular question
· A clear knowledge and understanding of the relevant literature
· Evidence of reading beyond the core literature
· The ability to write according to the rules of standard English
· The ability to develop a clear, well structured and logical answer to the question
Work of a fail standard (1-49) shows weaknesses such as:
· A poor understanding of the relevant subject
· A poor knowledge and understanding of the relevant literature
· Poor organisation of the argument in terms of structure and logic
· An inability to write according to the rules of standard English

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *