One Unit, In Depth Assignment
• To practice synthesizing sophisticated information
• To hone your analytic reading and critical listening skills
• To elaborate and expand on what you’ve digested
• To improve your writing skills
Choose one of the first 7 units of the course. Write an essay.
State the “thesis” of the unit as a whole as you see it. (Each unit includes 2 readings for 2 weeks, 2 lectures).
• Describe the purpose of the unit; capture the gist of it in rich and clear prose.
• You may choose to structure your analysis by discussing part 1 (i.e. Professor Koffman’s lecture and
the reading for that week), then tie it together with part 2 (the guest lecture + reading).
• Alternatively, you may choose to discuss both lectures first, then tie your interpretations/analysis to
• Alternatively, you may choose to structure your essay around a theme or two, and bring in the
appropriate material at the right time.
• In other words, the structure of your essay is in your hands
• Consider explaining the structure of your essay to your reader.
Consider each reading in the unit:
! Infer the question that each author of the readings of the unit asks
i.e. state the problem that each reading attempts to solve / explore.
! Summarize the answer the author provided.
! Describe the evidence she/he uses to support her/his answer.
! Make sure you connect the readings directly to what you believe was the overall thesis of the unit.
Consider each lecture in the unit:
• Explain the argument(s) presented, and how they are related to the overall thesis of the unit.
• Discuss if/how the two lectures either complemented each other in terms of content and argument,
how they contradicted one another, and/or how they approached the unit question in similar or
different manners, as appropriate.
• That is, synthesize the lectures into one discussion – put them into conversation with each other.
How did they relate or not relate? (Be specific.)2 of 2
The Technical Details & Helpful Tips:
• Write 1000-1250 words, in 12-point font, double-spaced pages (4-5).
• Write as much as you need to write to answer all of the questions above…
…then carefully figure out how to express it all in under 1250.
• Editing is magic. Structuring is key
• Make sure to put your name, your student number, and your TAs name on your paper
• The assignment is worth 10% of the course grade
• Edit and re-edit your written work!
• Do not write in the “personal” voice.
• Feel free to trade editing services with a friend or classmate. I’d strongly encourage everyone (no
matter how good your writing already is) to make an appointment with a writing centre. Improving
writing is a life-long task – an extremely valuable one at that.
• Please save drafts of your work. If your TA suspect anything less than academic honesty, they will as
you to show them how you arrived at your final submission.
Please consult the course syllabus as a reminder about the course Late Policy, Submission Policy, for help in Support for
Your Learning, and concerning Academic Honesty. I will follow the History Department’s grading policies:
A+ 90-100 Exceptional
A 80-89 Excellent
B+ 75-79 Very good
B 70-74 Good
C+ 65-69 Competent
C 60-64 Fairly competent
D+ 55-59 Passing
D 50-54 Barely passing
E 40-49 Marginally failing
F 0-39 Failing
“Exceptional” assignments will:
• Be inspiring. They’ll articulate the essence of the unit as a whole, and account for how the parts contributed to
• Make clear that you’ve devoted concentrated thinking to the unit and the assignment.
• Be grammatically perfect and composed in compelling prose.
“Excellent” assignments will:
• Hit all of the main points in the “The Assignment” section above.
• Be flawlessly written.
• Evidence clear and careful thinking.
“Very Good” grade assignments will:
• Do all of the above but without panache, precision, or superb writing.
• Evidence your critical capacity, your ability to synthesize a theme and variation materials.
“Good” grade assignments
• Do most of the things listed above, but not all.
“Competent” grade assignments will:
• Have either rich content but poor writing, or poor content with competent writing.
“Passing” grade assignments will:
• Just barely satisfy the basic requirements and goals of the assignment.
• Have poor writing and poor content, but show that you did the assignment.
“Failing” grade assignments will:
• Miss the point of the assignment altogether with poor writing.