Usyd history department essay writing guide


Finally, you should read through your own essay multiple times. The day after working on it, print it off, take it to a favourite location and read through it in relaxed fashion. A bit of distance from the text in terms of time duration will assist you in spotting grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, typos, logical inconsistencies, missing references or footnotes. Giving yourself time to correct these basic issues will ensure you do not lose marks. As humdrum as it may seem, one essential aspect of good essay-writing is good note-taking.

It is not rocket science.

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If you have read a journal article, a book chapter, perhaps a whole book you cannot rely on yellow highlighted sections on the photocopy of the journal article or underlined pencil marks in books as your notes. You need to write or type them out. In doing so you will be engaging in the process of intellectual absorption and then you will have a comprehensive document representing key points, quotations with page numbers, further reading to pursue possibly gleaned from the footnotes and references that you have also consulted and perhaps some notes of your own on what is missing or problematic about the argument in the reading you have completed.

My note-taking now is exactly the same as my note-taking as an undergraduate. Before even reading a sentence I write at the top of my page the author, the title, the source journal article, book chapter, or book , and details of publication journal volume and issue number as well as page range or book publication location, publisher, and date. Then my type-written notes can act as an aide-memoire, to be re-read in preparing my plan, and consulted when engaging in the writing process.

As a result, there is no last minute running to the library to get a book because the reference details are incomplete or because I have missed a page reference for a quotation. Equally, there is no need to be downloading or accessing material digitally. I have my notes as the crucial backstop. In re-reading Capital , Volume 1 recently such note-taking amounted to some 70 pages of typewritten material or some 30, words! My own notes of that piece flow across three pages and some 1, words. These notes are the ones I then read through before class and actually carry to tutorials with me if we have to stumble through together some of the granular detail of an argument.

Good notes are always your friend. My teaching covers classic past and present texts in political economy. Gibson-Graham, or Maria Mies. A big no-no, for me, in coming to terms with classic texts is to engage in interpretation by proxy. This is a practice that Ellen Meiksins Wood critiques in her dismissal of caricatured evaluations of historical materialism. For Wood in The Retreat from Class it is noteworthy that critics such as Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy dismiss key elements of historical materialism not on the basis of quoting from Marx but from secondary commentaries on Marx.

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As students, therefore, whatever the thinker or theorist may be who is at the centre of your excursus you should make the effort to be generating your own reading of foundational texts. In my teaching across every semester and on every course the problem of interpretation by proxy makes an appearance. Equally, it is something that one witnesses in Honours thesis writing, PhD theses, and in academic peer review.

The latter lose credibility for it. Students lose marks for it. Read Marx rather than lose marks could be the motto here. Once again an essay at the top end of the marking range a first-class or high distinction assignment has to deliver the gold standard of originality. But what is that?

Unfortunately, it is an imponderable. A classic undergraduate essay is all too frequently structured around a strengths-and-weaknesses argument. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. But sitting on the fence is a terribly uncomfortable enterprise. Develop an argument, a clear position, an intervention.

One technique that might convey a sense of freshness is to forecast your argument with an epigraph at the header of the essay. On the perennial issue of the agent-structure debate is it agents that shape history or structuring conditions? Men [ sic ] make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. This was not left as a hanging thread that was undeveloped but rather was woven as a key issue throughout the remainder of the essay.

You will come up with your own ideas of originality. Whatever they are, though, the safety of synthesis should be avoided. Already mentioned above is the need to let your ideas gestate, given them time to develop, and to give yourself a bit of distance from the draft text of an essay. An important prefigurative aspect to that process is to ensure that you give yourself thinking space to ensure that development. You have to be preoccupied by your essay. The university is not a bubble but firmly embedded in wider aspects of everyday life. Whether it be on the commute, taking a walk, in discussion over a coffee with friends, socialising, or carrying out mundane daily duties you should be pondering your essay.

This means thinking about how you will link ideas, overcome problems of logical flow and connection in your argument, considering what is missing and how you might address it, or provoking yourself into action to address core weaknesses.

10 Things to look out for about essay writing

But the examiners are onto it. You run the risk of guessing incorrectly, with potentially disastrous consequences. There is a freshness and incisiveness about an examination answer that a student has tackled when thinking on their feet in the exam room. Have some useful quotes in mind for each of your subject areas, but be selective and strategic. Many students worry about having enough quotes to weave into their essays. You want to demonstrate your grasp of the text and maximise the impact of your quotations for the sake of your argument. Philosophers have known for millennia that walking and thinking go extremely well together.

Why do you think Socrates spent most of his time wandering around the Greek agora? Exercise your writing skills: By all means practise writing essays, but not for the sake of memorising them. Here is another tip that you might have already figured out for yourself: writing is like physical exercise. You need to train up your writing skills as you would your body for a big race.

So get training. And get inspired by reading some great writing before you start each day. Undergraduate courses.

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How to Write a History Essay: Structuring the Main Body

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Contact us. Exploring the variety of human experience. Encountering other times and other cultures helps us understand change and see the world from different perspectives. Our study offering History. International and Global Studies. Our research Historians in the department work on a wide variety of times and places, with particular strengths in the history of the United States, Australia and the Pacific, China and Europe.


Our research covers the following areas:. Laureate Research Program in International History. Hosting academics, postdoctoral scholars and junior research fellows to explore the history of how economics and politics intersected after to make the modern, globalised world.

usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide
usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide
usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide
usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide
usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide
usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide
usyd history department essay writing guide Usyd history department essay writing guide

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