Poli 305:


Political Theory

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Poli 305 Instructions for term paper (20-25pp i.e., 5000-7500words):

Unless something is leaping to mind, troll about in the journals of political theory.

Your topic is open but must involve modern political theory and is subject to my approval.

You can critically assess a particular concept or argumentative move.

You can apply a theory or approach to some modern or even contemporary phenomena.

You are not limited to the 5 authors or isms discussed in this class.  In fact, I do not want more than 20% of your paper to reproduce class discussions or rely on secondary scholarship from the class if you do.



1.     ‘Catchy Title: explanatory subtitle’

2.      Abstract: 100 word summary in which you specify the research question(s), how you go about answering the question(s), and the nature of your answer/solution.

3.      Keywords: ten searchable words (can include proper names)

You should update regularly both 1 and 2 and 3 as you work on your paper because doing so forces you to be crystal clear about your intentions/targets/questions.

4.      Outline/Table of contents: identify intro, parts, headings, subheadings, conclusion.

For papers of this length it is crucial that you be self-conscious about the organization of the paper and its parts.  Think of it as the skeleton and the writing of the (body of the) paper itself the flesh that fills out around the bones.

5.     Body of the paper

a.      Introduction: open with a hook – interesting quote, example, statistic, and then proceed to explain to the reader what the larger issues at stake are.  Crucially, you must demonstrate that there is an interpretive/ethical/practical controversy.  Intro is a bit more playful than the abstract but must include a clear statement of the research question.

b.      Body of the paper – its parts, headings etc must match the outline.  It is a also a good idea, especially between parts, to provide one or two transitional sentences: e.g., ‘Having considered x, and established that Y is usually the case, we can turn to consider the problem of A.’  Inasmuch as you must be engaging with informational, illustrative, supportive, and critical sources, and drew upon them in researching, you must provide full and formal citations using one of the accepted methods.  I would recommend using in-text reference method citations but also footnotes to contain larger digressive discussions or multiple citations.  By the end of the body, some interpretation/prescription/practice has been proven implausible/dubious/unsuitable in favor of what you are defending.

c.      Conclusion: Briefly summarize what you have accomplished in the paper: i.e. restate your question and the route you took to get to your answer.  It is also entirely appropriate to reflect on the limits of the validity of your research, or to put it positively, on what else might be done, based on your work, in a fuller or continued examination of your question.

        6. References


Paper Proposal – Mon 3/3

First Draft – Wed 3/19

Second Draft – Mon 4/14

Final Draft  - 2 fays after Presentation