• Pick two questions. Respond to each question separately, i.e., each question must have its own
introduction, development, and conclusion. You must write at least 500 words (there is no upper
limit). Your total word count (with both questions together) will have at least 1000 words.
• You are responsible for correctly uploading the essay on the website and for uploading the essay
on time. Late penalties will count for this essay!
• Don’t forget to: (1) copy paste each question at the beginning of each answer; and (2) carefully
check these instructions. There are specific steps that you must follow to correctly write the
• The main objective of these essays is to show me that you are able to think through the ideas we
saw in our classes and in the texts
• Don’t merely repeat the PowerPoints or information that is on the internet
• Ask yourself: how will I convince him that I’m thinking what we saw in class and not merely
• Look at the originality slide toward the end, it has a lot of ideas to show that you’re thinking through the
material we saw in class
• To be sure, repeating information isn’t the problem. It’s normal to describe and repeat
information when you make an argument. The problem is repeating without showing me that you
are thinking through the material.
• How to answer?
• First, you contextualize the question
• Why is this important? Where does it come from? There’s not one way to contextualize a question.
• Some people introduce with historical facts, others with conceptual arguments, others with a parallel,…
• The important thing is that it has to be connected to your response. It’s not a place to drop random facts
and then move on. It sets the scene for your answer.
• Second, you answer the question
• Your answer grows naturally out of your introduction. It connects with it.
• It’s not a place to copy-paste or just state facts.
• You have to explain, in your own words, what is happening.
• How to answer?
• Third, you conclude the question
• You tie the introduction and the answer in a conclusion.
• There’s not one way to write a conclusion
• Here, don’t just state facts or write personal impressions
• Rather, ground these facts and impressions in a way that is relevant to this class
• So: don’t say “I find Smith interesting” but say “To conclude, I will briefly argue that Smith’s
liberalism is interesting because it contrasts so clearly with Karl Marx.”
• Do you answer the question?
• Does your answer have a broader point?
• Do you “fact-drop”? (= stating facts without an underlying reasoning/broader argument)
• Are the three parts of the essay organically connected?
• Is the answer clear, comprehensible, and are the arguments clearly
• Originality (in the next slide, I give some tips on how to give original answers)
• Some ideas on how to earn the originality rubric:
• Giving your opinion in a grounded and relevant way
• Giving original examples, parallels, hypotheses
• Concrete examples from real life?
• Comparing two or more authors
• Suggesting a new question (send me an email beforehand!)
• Bringing new ideas and notions from primary and secondary sources, and relating it to the
material of the class
• Criticizing or critically addressing the ideas of the class
• When you criticize, what matters is not whether I agree with you. The important thing is that you must
always justify your critiques in a way that is relevant to the class. Show me your reasoning.
• A good idea to criticize in a relevant way: use one author to criticize another author (Smith vs. Marx?)
• You can quote the readings. But don’t forget: the quote has to make sense
and tie to what you’re saying before and after the quote.
• You can’t overquote to fill your wordcount
• Don’t forget to explore the secondary literature:
• Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/
• Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://iep.utm.edu/
• Check the syllabus for more secondary literature
• If you quote a primary or secondary text, insert a simple footnote:
• Ex.: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Rosa Luxemburg”
• Ex.: G. D. H. Cole, A History of Socialist Thought, Volume 2, 1981, p. 253
• How to cite: https://politics.ucsc.edu/undergraduate/chicago%20style%20guide.pdf
• Careful when you copy paste in your essay! The software detects it
• Don’t use AI for your essay. The software is regularly updated together to
keep up with updated versions of other AIs.
• This class is writing-intensive. The idea of this class is to learn how to write
and to familiarize yourself with political concepts.
• AI has a lot of issues: it creates false facts, doesn’t engage with the ideas we
saw in class, doesn’t cite the secondary literature when it says a fact we
haven’t seen in class…
• The idea of these essays is not to repeat information: it’s to show me that
you’re thinking through the material we saw in class