For assessment deadlines, see the Undergraduate Handbook.
- Seminar contribution (10%)
- 1500 word essay (40%)
- 3000 word essay (50%)
For details of the submission of assessed work, click here.
NB Each assessed element will be marked according to the standard assessment criteria. Students should ensure that they follow the MHRA style guide carefully, especially for the presentation of the footnotes and the bibliography.
You will be marked above all for the quality of your contributions in discussions, both in the face-to-face seminars and online; I will also take the frequency of your contributions into account. I will provide you with feedback on your participation (though not marks) after reading week.
1500 word essay
There are two options for this task. Given the deadlines, I would strongly recommend doing option A, which is a bit more creative, but this is not a requirement.
Option A: Reporting a Historical Event
For this option, you need to put yourself into the shoes of a reporter in Europe writing for a newspaper somewhere outside of Europe. You report about some "big" event that has just happened: the November Revolution in Germany, the final declaration of the Weimar Constitution, the March on Rome. It might also be a "smaller" event, like a clash between Italian Fascists and the socialists opponents. I would strongly recommend writing about an event that happened during the upheavals following World War One, which we will study in the first half of the module. Report about the event, and contextualize it -- but, of course, without the hindsight of knowing what happened afterwards. How do you explain to your readers the event? What are the causes (e.g., for an unexpected election result), what are potential consequences? Is this an indication of a larger trend, or perhaps the beginning of something new? Is this a dangerous development, or perhaps a cause for hope?
You will need to properly footnote the essay to indicate where you draw your information (description of events, larger contexts) from. When writing, however, keep in mind that this is a newspaper article (and not a historiographical discussion!), and that you do not know what will happen in the future. Begin your article by giving the place and time (e.g., Weimar, 14 August 1919, proclamation of the new German constitution).
Please email me with regards to the choice of event by the end of week 3 (pending confirmation of deadlines via tabula).
Option B: Source Analysis - Propaganda
For this option, you will need to analyze a piece of propaganda -- this can be a poster, a song, a pamphlet, a speech -- from one of the political movements we study. Explain how the propaganda worked and how it might have appealed to its audience. What kind of social, political or cultural problems does the propaganda address? What kind of solution does it offer? How does it imagine a (political, social, etc.) alternative? How does it address an audience? How does it try to create a sense of community? How does it speak on an emotional level? These are some of the questions you can address to analyze the source.
While the focus of the essay should be the analysis of the source, you will need to contextualize it by referring to secondary literature. I will not expect you to read widely beyond the seminar readings, though relying exclusively on them will not be ideal either. The essay needs to be properly footnoted!
I will provide you with online sources collections you can use, but you should also feel free to do a bit of research (via library catalogues or, indeed, google) yourself.
Please send me a link to the source, or an electronic copy, by the end of week 3.
3000 word essay
This is a more traditional history essay. You will need to develop your own question for this essay, based on the topics covered in the module. Please email me the question by the end of week 7 for approval. While this is a deadline, I would very strongly encourage you to come and discuss the question, the sooner the better. (I might note that in the past, students who approached me early to discuss their plans for essays have often written the best essays.) Your essay should engage with a question you find intellectually challenging and interesting, as you will need to read more widely, beyond the assigned readings for the module. The essay question needs to be focused and original. Please avoid writing about overly general topics (e.g., Why did Hitler come to power?), unless you have something really original to say. The more focused you are, the more original you can often be. However, ensure that you can relate your question to "bigger" issues: for example, how does an understanding of a "crisis of masculinity" in the wake of World War One help us understand the rise of Italian Fascism.
Some key points to keep in mind when writing the essay:
- Make sure you have a strong and clearly stated argument.
- Place your argument into a historiographical context; that is, discuss historiography with regards to the argument you want to make.
- Make sure your argument is supported by empirical evidence; that is, link the evidence you present to the argument you want to make. What does the evidence your present actually show?
- Make sure the essay is well written: correct grammar and spelling; avoid lengthy sentences and paragraphs (rule of thumb: any paragraph with more than 300 words is likely to be too long; ideal would be less, roughly 250 words); avoid passive voice constructions - have strong verbs instead.
- And use clear topic sentences that tell your readers what a paragraph is about and what argument it makes. Make sure the paragraph is then actually about what the topic sentence says (google the concept "topic sentence", if you want to know more). That is a way to create coherence when you write!
Feedback on assessment
- written feedback on essay and exam cover sheets
- student/tutor dialogues in one-to-one tutorials