This advice sheet contains advice about how to plan and write essays. The advice is drawn from a number of different academic websites. First, there is a general guide to writing essays (both in semester time and in exams). This compliments the Department of Politics and Public Administration essay writing guide that can be found at http://www.politics.ul.ie and in the Politics and Public Administration handbook that you will be given at the start of the year. Second, there are 3 guides to essay planning: Guide to essay planning 1 (from http//my.sunderland.ac.uk/web/services/l ds/bstudent_support/bstudy_skills/essay.doc Guide to essay planning 2 (from: http://www.mantex.co.uk/samples/plan.htm) : Guide to essay planning 3 (from http://www.clpd.bbk.ac.uk/students/ Essayplanning) Read all three. The advice given in each is fairly similar but you may find that one way – or some combination of ways – works best for you. Following the three guides there are a couple of sample plans (there is also a sample in the second Guide to essay planning). These are different in lay out to what you might produce using the Essay Planning Sheet for the essay plan assessment task but they give you an idea of the ways that you might plan in for the essay for this module and in the future.
Writing a Political Science Essay
© Copyright 1997, Charles King, Georgetown University Essay questions, term papers, “take-home” finals, research papers, and project reports are standard components of most political science courses. Professors may ask students to write an essay as part of a mid-term of final exam, or to hand in extended papers completed outside class that have required substantial research in the library or elsewhere. These kinds of assignments not only give professors a chance to evaluate your skills as a writer and as a critical thinker – two skills that you should take away from any university course – but they also provide the opportunity for you to reflect seriously on particular issues and to use your creative powers to address fundamental conceptual questions in the study of politics. In other words, essays, term papers and other written assignments give you the chance to “get your hands dirty” by grappling with the same broad questions that inform the work of professional political scientists. Writing essays and papers allows you to think long and hard about such critical issues as: What is democracy? What makes people vote for Party A and not for Party B? Do ideas affect the way people behave politically? Why do revolutions occur? How do states interact in the international arena? What determines the shape of a state’s foreign policy? Why do countries go to war? In tackling essay-writing, especially in the “essay question” section of exams, students often face three problems: •
First, some students may feel that they just don’t know where to begin. “How can I answer a question that’s so broad? I just don’t have enough information.” Second, even if they feel they know something about the subject, they may wonder how to organize the information in order to present a coherent and convincing argument. “How do I begin to put together all the various pieces to the puzzle so that what I say makes sense?” Finally, students may be unsure about the relationship between the presentation of factual information and the expression of their own views on the issue at hand. “The professor never told me whether he wanted me to repeat what he had said in class, or if he was just looking for my opinion.”
Below are some general guidelines on how to deal with these troubling questions, especially in the area of writing answers to essay questions on exams. Clearly, professors have their own individual – and sometimes idiosyncratic – views on the place of essay-writing and other written assignments in university education. But the ideas below should help you begin to assess how you should approach...