Instructions for written work

As a two-credit course, the benchmark for effort is 9 hours of student work per week over 26 weeks, or 18 hours per week over 13 weeks.  That implies about 100-300 pages of reading per week, and a body of written work that totals about 30 thousand words (or 15 thousand for each term equivalent).  This might break down as follows, although other configurations are possible:

  • book review ~2k words
  • literature review with annotated bibliography ~3-5k words
  • analytical paper ~7-10k words

Participation (10%)

Regular check-in is important to maintain momentum over a short course. We will maintain weekly contact, and your participation mark will reflect written or oral progress reports and discussions each week.  Be prepared to discuss readings and ask questions about the material. This may be done by teleconference, in person, by email, or on Moodle.


All marks are remediable. If you get less than 100 percent on any assignment, I will tell you what to do to improve your mark. You can choose to resubmit any time up to the time the final marks are due. I will try to provide timely feedback, but there will be times when I cannot respond immediately.


Generic guide for marking written assignments.

Book Reviews (20%)

You will do at least two book reviews, worth 10 percent each. You may do more, and take the best two marks, or divide the marks between additional reviews. Negotiate this in advance.


A book review analyzes and interprets the book in the context of its author’s intent, and summarizes the utility of the book in the context of the reader’s (i.e. your) expectations and objectives . Who wrote it, why, and what does it say?  How is it useful, and where does it succeed or fail in meeting your objectives as a student and professional trying to understand specific aspects of a problem?  It is permissible to narrow your focus to particular parts of a book for deeper analysis, while providing only a superficial critique of the remainder of the book. This would be appropriate if one part of the book is especially important to your learning objectives or real-world problem set.

Here are two guidelines for completing book reviews:

Do not get focused on formats. The aim of the book review is to dissect the content of a useful book in a way that helps you to understand its relevance to your central research problem.  It can be as long or as short as is useful to you for your purposes, presented in a way that helps me to understand what you have learned and how you will apply it.

Integrated literature review(s) (30%)

While a book review considers the contribution of a single book to your research problem, a literature review compares a body of research that contributes to solving your research problem. It is, in effect, assembling the shoulders on which you will stand to answer your question.  It acknowledges the useful models and insights from the relevant bodies of knowledge, and identifies the specific gaps or problems that remain for you to solve.


You will need an integrated literature review and annotated bibliography for each of the analytical papers you write for this course.


Here is a guide to the completion of a literature review in political science.

Analytical paper(s) (40%)

you may write one, two or more papers worth a total of 40 percent. You should negotiate the value of the assignments in advance.  In an analytical paper, you ask a question, do enough research of the right sort to provide a reasonable answer, and express the answer clearly and without significant error. The subject must be relevant to the course, and agreed in advance.



Develop a question, tentative answer to that question, define or operationalize the key terms (ones with specific meaning for your research), outline the final paper, including your sources and methods, and explain the relevance. 300 words.

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