O Hobbes and Thucydides provide timeless truths about the study of International security?

Coursework Guidelines

These guidelines are designed to help you with writing your coursework. They offer guidance on what generally makes a good essay, rather than rigid rules. Three areas are discussed: essay structure; written English; sourcing.

1. Essay Skills
Writing an essay requires a particular technique. Performing well in an essay can be as much due to successfully mastering the essay technique as knowing a lot about the subject. A well structured essay that very clearly answers the question will score much higher than a poorly structured and irrelevant essay, even if the latter contains much useful information. In particular, pay attention to the following:
” Observe the conventions of essay writing: avoid over-use of the first person ( I ); avoid informal,  chatty styles.
” Answer the actual question asked, don t simply write generally around the topic. Answer the question, the whole question and nothing but the question.
” Define the key terms at the outset. Words like  global governance or  sovereignty can be interpreted in different ways, so don t simply assume there is one accepted meaning  define how you understand and use the key terms, and/or discuss whether different uses of the term in the literature may lead to different answers to the question.
” Set out the structure/plan in your introduction (signposting) and then follow it. Don t lose sight of the issues you raise in your introduction throughout your answer and be sure to refer back to them in your conclusion.
” Make sure that you apply what you read to answer the question directly. Many weak essays simply recite what is in the literature; better essays explain its relevance to the essay question. Avoid generalising without giving examples or citations  e.g. by just saying  Some critics argue&  Always root your arguments in specific authors and examples.
” Don t assume that all the relevant reading for the essay you are doing fits into the appropriate  topic  sometimes reading for other weeks is also relevant.
” Apply theoretical ideas and concepts where relevant, for example by relating empirical developments to conceptual models.
” Be critical and analytical. The highest marks are always awarded for analysis rather than description  show that you have the ability to analysis and evaluate different empirical developments. Don t be afraid to criticise what you read; as long as your criticisms are justified, you will gain marks!

2. Written English
An essay that is clearly structured will still fail to score highly if the standard of written English is poor. In some cases this may be because an essay was not read through before handing in. Make sure that you read your essay carefully before submitting it, to pick up on spelling mistakes, missing words or incorrect use of language. A polished essay is likely to be graded higher than one that is full of errors.

Poor written English can also be due to a lack of core skills in written communication. Being able to communicate clearly in a written format will be a vital skill when you leave university. The university study skills support service can help to improve written English. Courses on  Academic Writing , which offer classes and individual tutorials, can help you develop this essential skill. If you feel that you need to improve your written English come to see the course tutor to discuss.

3. Sourcing
The correct use of source material is essential in academic coursework. Getting the right balance between too many and too few quotes, whilst sourcing them appropriately, can be a difficult skill to master. The best way to get a sense of how to use quotes is to observe how they are used in the articles and books that you read. Most authors use quotes and source material from elsewhere. Note how they are used to support the author s argument. A high standard essay will develop an argument by integrating material from a range of sources. Common mistakes in weaker essays include:

(a) Under-Sourcing
Quotes and references to the literature are vital in an essay. They show an awareness of debates in the literature, and are a good way to introduce examples and pithy quotes to support your argument. Essays which make no reference to source material are weak either because they are vague (suggesting inadequate reading) or because they show evidence of reading without indicating the source. Factual material which you have taken from a book must always be sourced. With the exception of the introduction and conclusion, all or most paragraphs in your essay should contain some reference to source material: either a quote or a paraphrase from the literature, with appropriate referencing. Lecture notes are not an appropriate source for an essay and should be used only as background to guide your reading.

(b) Over-Sourcing
Essays can also be over-sourced, relying heavily on long quotes. Quotes are most effective if they are one or two sentences long. Occasional use of a longer quote is acceptable if it is particularly important to your argument. But the essay must show your own capacity to structure and develop an argument, and not be a cutting and pasting exercise. Quotes must be integrated into a particular argument and not used as though they speak for themselves.

(c) Secondary Sourcing
Often books and articles will include quotes from other authors which it can be useful to utilise in an essay. If you use a secondary source like this you must cite both the original source and the place that you took the quote from. For example in an essay you might write the following:

The rapidity of America s defeat of Saddam s Iraq has not resolved US security concerns since 9/11 as Paul Starr puts it  when the dust clears over Baghdad, we will likely find ourselves no safer than before (Starr, 2003: 21  cited in Agnew, 2005: 35). This has been born out with the growing terrorist problem in post-war Iraq.

Both the sources must then appear in the bibliography. If you are using footnotes the full details of both the original (Starr) and the secondary source (Agnew) must be given in the footnote.

(d) Bibliography/Footnotes
Bibliographies must be properly presented. See the summary below for guidance on how to reference books and journals. When you are sourcing quotes or summaries in the text, you need to use EITHER Harvard style referencing (author, date, page number in brackets in the text) OR footnotes  but you must not use both. Choose the style with which you are most comfortable.

(e) Plagarism
In essence plagiarism is the passing off of someone else s work as your own. It ranges from the quite conscious or deliberate attempt to deceive ( hard plagiarism) to what might be called accidental ( soft plagiarism) where, by the time they come to write the essay, students forget that something in their notes is not actually their own work or in their own words but a verbatim quote from a source. When they use that  quote without attribution, they are not consciously trying to deceive their reader, but, nevertheless, they are still guilty of plagiarism.

If you plagiarise all or some of your coursework you will be penalized for the coursework and may fail the course. Make sure that you understand what counts as plagiarism, and consult the course tutor for guidance if in doubt. You must not use the same wording as used in the literature (or on a website) unless it is in quotation marks and properly attributed. Paraphrased material also must be attributed to the author. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to read widely and develop arguments that draw on a wide range of sources, using properly referenced quotes and summaries to support your point.

See the Politics Student Handbook for more details.

4. Guidelines for Bibliography and Sourcing
These guidelines are designed to help you with sourcing and bibliographies for coursework. There are several different referencing conventions, and it does not matter which one you adopt provided that you cite sources p