Emile Simpson’s War from the Ground Up and essential readings in world politics by Karen a. Mingst and Jack L. Snyder?
POLS 104-02, International Relations, Fall 2017
Professor Brian Smith
Take-Home Final Exam
Please respond to the following prompt in 8-10 pages, double spaced and 12 point font:
For most of the semester, we read works by major thinkers in international affairs. We
ended the course with an examination of Emile Simpson’s War from the Ground Up.
Using his arguments, analyze a specific problem in international relations that we
studied this semester. How might (or how does) Simpson criticize the approaches
international relations theorists and practitioners bring to the topic you have chosen?
Use Simpson and at least three other texts to make your case.
Some additional matters to keep in mind:
The first paragraph usually makes or breaks your essay. Begin your essay with a clear and
focused thesis statement that directly responds to the questions in the prompt. The next couple
sentences should give me some indication of the paper’s plan, or briefly elaborate upon the
thesis. Do not hope things will come together and attempt to write your essay before you have a
clear thesis. Such efforts rarely work. Outline your essay with this thesis in mind and evaluate
every subsequent paragraph in your essay for fit with that thesis. If you cannot establish a clear
link between any given point in your essay and your thesis, it probably does not belong.
This all means you need to get the point immediately: long-winded written equivalents of throat
clearing that tell me how important these authors merely waste space you will need. Generic
efforts at comparison do not help either (ex: “Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were both
Americans who cared about liberty”). Both of these types of openings indicate a) you are not
sure what you are doing, b) you are trying to fill space, and c) you really have not thought about
how this will irritate me in the fourth or fifth hour of grading.
You can start formulating your thesis best by devoting serious attention to carefully reading the
prompt and determining exactly what it asks. As you proceed, you should not attempt to outline
or laundry list every idea you have, rather choose one focused line of argumentation that brings a
handful of the most important points you think support your case to bear on the subject. Five
pages is not much space. Choose carefully. The best method of accomplishing this is for you to
engage in a close reading of the text and then marshal evidence from the texts to support your
argument. Do not use any outside sources. This is about your encounter with the certain ideas in
the reader, not an exercise in you finding another professor to tell you what to think about them.
If you do, you will lose credit.
Avoid editorializing. It doesn’t matter which of these authors is right here, only what you think
they have dramatized or proven. I am looking for a sustained effort on your part to understand
what the authors are saying and I am not at all interested in what you think about the merits or
deficiencies of their accounts. So, do not waste the space and effort.
While I am not looking for your judgment about whether the authors are correct in their
argumentation, note that merely attempting to summarize facts won’t work. So read the question
very carefully and decide what arguments or examples from the book are actually important for
your answer to the questions.
I strongly recommend you discuss the texts with one another or with me at office hours before
and during the drafting of your essays. I will read thesis statements and brief outlines of what
you intend to write, but not complete drafts. If you submit a thesis to me for evaluation, please be
sure to give me at least 24 hours to respond. Requests for help on the day before the paper is due
will be ignored.
Cite both direct quotes and all specific references to the texts. By this, I mean: each and every
time you use or refer to a specific passage to help develop your essay, you must use a page
citation to tie this to the book. In this case a parenthetical one (author, page number) is fine.
Failure to cite sources is plagiarism and will result in an automatic F on the assignment. Severe
cases (any work simply copied without attribution) will be reported to the Dean of Students and
result in an automatic final grade of F in the class.
I will mark down all essays that deviate from the formatting requirements and those that are over
the page limit; part of what I am testing here is your clarity of thought, and whether you can
determine what really bears on the subject at hand and what does not.
Yes, writing counts, so proofread your papers carefully and consult the two essays on writing
and outlining I have provided on Canvas.
The exam will be due to this portal by 11:59 pm on Monday, December 18th and will be worth
40% of your final grade in the class. There will be no revisions allowed. Late essays without an
acceptable (serious illness, death in the family), documented excuse will be graded down one
letter increment each day after the deadline (so an A paper two days late would receive a C, a B+
paper would become a D+ and so on). This means you have a maximum of four days before even
an A paper automatically counts as an F.