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Second short essay


For all except visiting students, the second 2000-word essay is due at 5pm on Tuesday in week 9 of the Spring term. This is a formative assessment.

For visiting students staying for three terms, the second 2000-word essay is due at 12 noon on Wednesday in week 5 of the Spring term. This is a summative assessment.

For visiting students who are in Warwick for the Spring term only, you should submit a 1000-word essay plan by 12 noon on Wednesday in week 5 of the Spring term, and a 2000-word essay by 12 noon on Wednesday in week 9 of the same term.

Visiting students are permitted to write their essay plan and first essay on two different questions, but they may also write them on the same question.

Submission procedure

Visiting students are to submit an electronic copy of the essay and essay plan on Tabula. All other students are to email a copy of the essay to me at Please put the words 'HI296 second short essay' in the subject line of the email.

You do not need to submit a hard copy of the essay.

Your task to answer the essay question! Click here to see the list of possible essay questions. You may devise your own question, but please run this question by me before you try to answer it.

The questions you answer for your various essays in this module should not be too similar. A good rule of thumb is that you should use material from a different lecture/seminar in each essay. Some overlap is permissible, however -- ask me if you are unsure. Remember that one of the functions of these essays is to prepare you for the exam, and two essays on the same topic will prepare you for at most one exam question.

Unlike the first essay, the second essay (the first essay for those arriving in the Spring term) is not centred on a single primary source. This does not mean that you should quote no primary sources in your second essay. But you should concentrate on reading some relevant secondary literature on the topic and using this literature (including any debates or disagreements therein) to formulate your own answer to the question.

Important note: the meanings of words change over time, in science as in every other domain that historians write about. Pay attention to the early modern meanings of terms when you write your essays, and especially to the early modern meanings of the words in the essay question. Eg. if the question asks whether such-and-such was a 'science' in the seventeenth century, it is really asking whether such-and-such was a 'science' according to seventeenth-century criteria. You may also want to say whether it was a 'science' according to later criteria--but you should not say only this, and you should tell your reader whose criteria you are using.

Secondary readings

Unlike the first essay, the questions for the second essay do not each come with a list of suggested readings. You should be able to find relevant readings in the 'Further reading' section of one or more of the seminar webpages. Most questions are quite obviously associated with a specific lecture/seminar, but you are encouraged to look for connections between different lectures/seminars. For further advice on the secondary literature, see the general bibliography. Note that some of the works listed there are particularly strong on historiography, ie. the evolution and current state of historians' ideas about a topic. Works of this kind include Cohen 1994, Lindberg and Westman 1990, and Rousseau and Porter 1980. These books are a good place to look for debates that historians are having (or have had) about your essay topic.

Marking scheme

All short essays will be marked according to the History department's marking scheme, which is discussed in section 3.1.7 of the undergraduate handbook.

The essay plan will be assessed according to the same marking scheme, in accordance with the following guidelines:

The essay plan should respond to a particular question and should set out how the student understands the question and what material they will bring to bear in answering that question. In respect to the discussion of the texts, they should show some awareness of the text, what type of text it is, and what its aims and objectives were, and an understanding of why the issues of interpretation that the question raises are pertinent to that text. The essay plan should include a draft introduction; a list of section headings for the issues to be addressed, with a brief discussion for each section of its relevance in responding to the question, and there should be a concluding section which identifies the way in which the candidate hopes to have provided an answer to the question. The introduction and conclusion should be written in prose. For the individual sections, you can decide whether to set out your ideas in prose or as a list.