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Each student is required to ‘adopt’ a country. That is, students are asked to choose any country in the world that is democratic or partially democratic, but it cannot be the student’s home country. Then each week students are asked to become an expert on one particular aspect of the political behaviour, the institutions or the outcomes of the adopted country.

The chosen country must be democratic or partially democratic (students are provided with a reading that helps students identify what is meant by democratic). Students should choose a country that has readily accessible information about its politics and political institutions and this should be in a language that students understand. It is also perhaps best to avoid very newly democratic countries, because when we discuss issues such as party systems or voting behaviour there may not be enough of a history of democratic politics in newly democratic countries to help students to answer weekly questions satisfactory.

One of the best places to find information about your chosen country is online, especially online news sites and on online encyclopaedias.

If student completes all the tasks regularly, then by the end of semester s/he should have a very good knowledge of the political system adopted. This can act as a rich resource of evidence when it comes to thinking about the topics that are being discussed in classes and also when it comes to answering exam questions.

Students are required to present their research regularly in seminars and at the end of the course they are required to submit a short report of their case study (max 1000 words).

Reportsmust be submitted via email by Thursday of Week 13. Penalty for late work is one mark per day inclusive of weekends. Reports should include a title page, which states student’s name, the name of the case study (country adopted), and the title of the course, the course instructor’s name and the date of submission.

Reports must also have a proper documentation of sources and a full bibliography. See Essay Writing Guidance at the end of this booklet and/or the booklet that is available from the secretary’s office in W2.

Reports should be written double-spaced with generous margins and preferably with the Times New Roman font 12p.


Good essay technique is an important transferable skill. It might take time to learn but improving your technique will help to get higher marks.

Essays need to be planned. You must give yourself adequate time to read about the topic you have chosen, to take notes, and to think about the content and argument you want to make. Research for your essay should begin as early as possible in the semester to allow enough time to read, think and write your essay. You should also give yourself time to re-draft and proof-read your essay before you submit it.

The essay questions above do not have ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to them. Instead, your essay should embody a well-argued case that offers a plausible and persuasive answer to the question. Moreover, you need to support your argument with examples and evidence. An essay is NOT a testament of faith – what you personally ‘believe’ is not an issue – but should be a demonstration of your ability to assemble a convincing scholarly argument.

The most important aspect of an essay is the argument. The argument links together a series of propositions, each supported by evidence gathered in your research, to form a hypothesis that seeks to answer the question. The argument should be clearly structured, with each proposition laid out in turn, stated succinctly and linked logically. Every essay must be properly footnoted or endnoted and must include a bibliography.

General structure

It may seem obvious but a clear essay 1) will tell people what you plan to say (Introduction); 2) you saying it (Main text) 3) and lastly you telling them what you have just said (Conclusion).


The introduction to an essay is crucial. It should tell the reader what is it that your essay will do. It should do the following:

1) Indicate what question(s) the essay seeks to answer.
2) Identify why these questions arise. Do they come from a specific literature or from real world events? You should provide a context that helps the reader to understand what are the questions the essay tackles, but why they matter
3) Tell your argument.
4) Indicate how you will reach the answer(s). This introduces your sources, methods and evidence.
5) Define the key concepts that are discussed – e.g. ‘the state’.
6) Outline step-by-step the plan for the rest of the paper.

The body of the essay

The body of the essay, i.e. the main text, should address each of the points that you want to discuss as listed in your introduction. In this section you present your argument and offer evidence to support it. It is important that you write clearly and edit carefully.


You must be able to offer reasoned arguments that support your thesis and answer the question(s) that you pose.

Here are some tips:

1) Use clear evidence to support any claims that you make. This may be empirical, offering facts, statistics, historical narratives, or it may be theoretical or deductive, offering an elaboration of theoretical claims and their implications.
2) Be clear about what your claims your evidence supports and how. Simple statements of fact do not automatically support a claim.
3) Consider the counter arguments. Raise real objections that might be raised by a skeptic, these will test your thesis.
4) Footnotes or endnotes are to be used to document where you have acquired the elements of your argument and the evidence that you have employed to support it. They should also be used to support your key arguments and claims where others have made them. In this case they protect you from the accusations of plagiarism

It is very important to have a well-structure argument and keep your writing clear and grammatically correct. You find some useful advise on this list:

1) Set out to make only one or two clear points in your essay and organize your paper simply and clearly.
2) Having an outline for your paper will help you to structure your writing and thinking.
3) Avoid unnecessary ancillary points, no matter how interesting, if they do not contribute to your core inquiry.
4) Write clear headings for your sections but avoid unnecessary sub-headings.
5) Your sections should offer the reader:
a. Argument of the section
b. Evidence for the argument
c. Counterarguments or limitations to the argument
6) Begin your paragraphs with a topic sentence.
7) Write clear sentences. Short sentences are better than longer ones in English.
8) Avoid the passive voice. It often obscures who is actually doing the acting and in this way it makes your argument less clear.
9) Do not waste your word count on clutter words. E.g. There is no point in writing that ‘Cambridge Professor X Y has argued ABC’ when you can write simply that ‘It has been argued ABC’ and footnote the article by the author. Of course, if you are writing for example on Immanuel Kant’s ideas of human rights, you can refer to this name.
10) Direct quotations should not be too long and should not be used too often. When possible, paraphrase the argument and footnote it. This shows that you have thought about the argument and you have understood it.
11) When direct quotations are used and they run more than three lines, indent the quote, offset it from the text and single space it.
12) Do not neglect your grammar or spelling. Poor grammar and spelling can cast doubt upon the general quality of your work as they can distort the meaning of your arguments. Use grammar and spelling check on your computer!
13) Be consistent with your language. This applies to both style and terminology. The terms you are using in your essay are specific to literature employed in the field studied. If you have followed the instructions in this outline, you have defined them in your essay’s introduction. Stick to them consistently. The same applies to style. If you have chosen to use italics or otherwise use specific notation for a term, use it throughout the paper.
14) Edit and proof-read your paper!

In your conclusion you simply summarize what you have done in your essay and bring everything together. By re-stating your argument and laying out the key supporting documentation you will have a solid conclusion. After the short summary you may turn to the implications of your findings. Depending on the essay they might be theoretical or policy-related.

Essay assessment criteria

Essays are assessed and marks awarded on the basis of the following criteria:

• Relevance to question
• Sound ordering and structuring of material
• Quality and clarity of written presentation
• Effective use of evidence
• Demonstration of sound understanding of the topic
• Adequacy of research
• Adequacy of analysis
• Identification of major arguments and themes
• Critical evaluation and judgement
• Range of sources used
• Insight and originality

Citation: footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies

Footnotes or endnotes are essential device to show the reader and the assessor of your work where and how you acquired the elements of your argument and the evidence you have used to support it. As noted above, they protect you from the accusation of plagiarism, which when discovered is treated very seriously.

All direct quotes must be properly and fully referenced. This always includes giving the number of the page from which the quotation is taken. When direct quotations are more than three lines long, indent the quote, offset it from the text and single space it. Summaries of author’s arguments must also be referenced, again including page numbers. Full references should be given whenever you use statistical or historical evidence taken from a text.


Footnotes are included at the bottom of each page, and their content refers to text included on that page. They are numbered consecutively throughout the text. Your Word or other word-processing package will allow the insertion of footnotes into the text and automatically locates them in sequence on the correct page.

Every time a new citation is introduced into your footnotes a full reference must be provided. You must give the author, title of book, place of publication, publisher, date of publication and the page number. For example when a book is used as a reference, the form should be as follows:

Jack Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2003), p. 3.

For journal articles:

Bernd Kaussler, ‘European Union Constructive Engagement with Iran (2000-2004): An Exercise in Conditional Human Rights Diplomacy’, Iranian Studies, Vol. 41 (3), p. 274.

For chapters in edited books:

Ole Waever, ‘Europe’s Three Empires’, in Rick Fawn and Jeremy Larkins (Eds.), International Society after the Cold War (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1996), pp. 86-88.

Subsequent citations should take the form of an abbreviated form of the original. For example:

Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, p. 15.
Or Waever, ‘Europe’s Three Empires’, p. 92.

If the citation follows immediately after the original you can merely write the Latin word ‘Ibid’, followed by the page number.

Endnotes, like footnotes, are numbered consecutively throughout the text. They are, however, not included on each page in turn, but are instead gathered at the end of the essay, before the bibliography. Endnotes take the form showed above with footnotes.


At the end of the essay, a bibliography must be included listing the full references, in alphabetical order, of each text cited in the footnotes/endnotes. Each listed item (excluding non-edited books) must include the full count of pages. For example:

Bernd Kaussler, ‘European Union Constructive Engagement with Iran (2000-2004): An Exercise in Conditional Human Rights Diplomacy’, Iranian Studies, Vol. 41 (3), pp. 269-295.


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