Essay Assignment 1 Error Analysis Components of a quality essay



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Essay Assignment 1

Components of a quality essay

  • 1) Concise introduction with emphasis on key words in essay question.
  • Why – reasons/ causes
  • “diplomatic efforts”, “tensions & conflicts” & international politics.
  • State general diplomatic efforts – United Nations
  • State causes – 3 causes - minimum

2) Clear concise topic sentence in each paragraph

  • On the first factor of religion, we have to note that religion, throughout history has proven itself to be a weapon of formidable force, for it is able to unite people from different regions and background under one wing.
  • Religion has proven to be a formidable cause for it is able to unite people from different regions and background.

3) Relevant definition of cause

  • According to Alan Cassel, an ideology is “a set of closely related ideas held by a group” that embodies “a broad interpretation of the human condition”. Raymond Aron states that it is a “secular religion” which strikes just the right note. We can see that some conflicts have ensued from ideological differences, where a nation fights a war just to assert its dominance of the ideology internationally.
  • The world after 1945 was mainly under the influence of two distinct ideologies – communism versus democracy represented by the USSR and the USA respectively. (Describe briefly the difference/s between these two ideologies)

4) Give relevant egs with historical basis & factual accuracy related to the cause identified

  • The quest for prestige and national status symbols can eat up money and material resources. Countries bid against one another to stage the Olympic Games, and at the end, there would only be one winner, thus it is inevitable that some countries might be offended. One eg would be in the 1980s where the West Europeans and the British offended Americas by purchasing natural gas from Siberia……..
  • What is the cause here?
  • Any historical basis?
  • Any specific details to show the crisis that the bidding of the games created – between which two countries?
  • What was the connection between Europeans & British buying gas from Siberia with the quest for prestige?
  • More related to split between countries with similar ideology, just like the Soviet Union against China - renegades

How can examples be made relevant? Establish links between it and the question – diplomatic effort & conflicts

  • Polish nationalism
  • What / who / when / how / why
  • Crisis / war??
  • Diplomacy
  • Outcome – more tension / conflict resolution?
  • Other examples:
  • Cold War – Proxy wars – Korean & Vietnam War
  • Split within ideologies – Sino-Soviet ties
  • Textbook Row – boycotts / protests

4) Links to question after topic sentence with the factor clearly expressed

  • National interests can easily lead to conflict when countries have territorial disputes. Diplomatic actions can easily fail because such national interests are driven by deeply political motives which undermine the success of the diplomatic actions. A prominent eg was the break-up of Yugoslavia. In 1991, the country began to break up, with the Serbs possibly divided between three countries of Serbia itself, Croatia and Bosnia
  • Confusing factors here? – national interests, territorial disputes or nationalism ???

5) Coherent Paragraph– connected facts or ideas, effective substantiation which must be precise and succint

  • Example used cannot be expressed in just one or two sentences .
  • Don’t give more than 3 examples.
  • Give one eg and develop it thoroughly showing how tension / conflict arose because of it.
  • For e.g the new regime (vague) in Iran supported the Hezbollah.
  • State in specific terms what this new regime was – Islamic fundamentalist regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini

Examples of a coherent paragraph

National interests, specifically in the field of economics, play a significant role in escalating conflicts between states in the past decades. Every state seeks economic advantage for itself and has done so in a variety of ways for egs setting up tariffs to protect its industries or securing control of raw materials. Such preoccupation with own economic interests is bound to lead to friction between states. In fact, many states are willing to place their relationship with other states on the line for economic benefits. In the 1960s, the USA tried to dissuade its west European allies from buying cheaper oil from the USSR, its enemy in the Cold War arguing them they were compromising their national security and increasing Soviet revenue. However, some of them chose to sacrifice their good relations with the USA, an intangible benefit, for economic advantage, by purchasing Russian oil. A similar dispute occurred in the 1980s when Britain bought natural gas from Siberia despite disapproval from the USA, a country it had enjoyed decades of good relations. When economic concerns outbids diplomatic considerations, these may sour relations even between long-time allies, generating tension, and thus, results in the upsurge of conflicts.

  • National interests, specifically in the field of economics, play a significant role in escalating conflicts between states in the past decades. Every state seeks economic advantage for itself and has done so in a variety of ways for egs setting up tariffs to protect its industries or securing control of raw materials. Such preoccupation with own economic interests is bound to lead to friction between states. In fact, many states are willing to place their relationship with other states on the line for economic benefits. In the 1960s, the USA tried to dissuade its west European allies from buying cheaper oil from the USSR, its enemy in the Cold War arguing them they were compromising their national security and increasing Soviet revenue. However, some of them chose to sacrifice their good relations with the USA, an intangible benefit, for economic advantage, by purchasing Russian oil. A similar dispute occurred in the 1980s when Britain bought natural gas from Siberia despite disapproval from the USA, a country it had enjoyed decades of good relations. When economic concerns outbids diplomatic considerations, these may sour relations even between long-time allies, generating tension, and thus, results in the upsurge of conflicts.

6) Balance

  • equal treatment to all the 3 factors in terms of length.
  • Conclusion - weighing of factors should not be longer than the 3 main factors.

Weighing of factors – arguments not examples or evidence.

  • Weigh the roles of short-term / long-term / immediate causes
  • Show the difference between intentions & motives by explanation
  • Some form of categorisation – political, social & economic

Example (1): From Nicholas Chuan

  • In the light of the above discussion, the most important factor for the outbreak of international conflicts is the ideological disparities of different nations. Domestic pressure such as that from the Vietnam War was primarily caused by ideological differences, and thus merely facilitated the rise of conflicts. Furthermore, with the polarization of the world into two ideological camps, economic advantages can be easily solved as aid readily came from the two superpowers in their bid to gain support and membership of their respective camps. Hence, ideological differences was the key factor in causing international tension as such disparities were difficult to resolve and also readily able to cause disagreements, leading to global conflicts.

Example 2: From Khoo Wu Shaun

  • Historical baggage is the most important factor because it is the primal cause for conflicts. It is possible for us to generalize and thereby conclude that most conflicts have resulted because of prior actions by either party, that inevitably lead to a retaliation and subsequent conflict.
  • National interest plays second fiddle to historical baggage because national interest, be it expanding borders or capturing vital resources, can be easily resolved in other ways rather than open conflict evident via treaties or trade ties that benefit both countries while achieving relative peace

General comments for weak pieces

  • 1) No topic sentence for each paragraph – start with definitions which are irrelevant to the question unless it is clear and related to the cause of conflict identified.
  • 2) Ideas/ Facts between sentences are not related.
  • 3) Choice of factors : Concrete terms versus concepts
  • - Ideology - political or religious??
  • - National interests, nationalism & territorial disputes – Are they synoymous??
  • 4) Eg used – did not show the crisis leading to the conflict – specific details needed to bridge gap in information
  • 5) Focus on how the event develops into a crisis between two countries / nations.
  • 6) Use your own definition which will help you stay focused so you will not digress.

7) Substantiation tends to be over-general

  • 7) Substantiation tends to be over-general
  • 8) Largely disjointed narrative account of how each factor led to some form of global tension.
  • 9) Regurgitation of facts – failed to pay close attention to the crux of the question.
  • 10) No explanation to link example to question
  • 11) Lacks analytical depth to case studies / egs.
  • 12) Irrelevant egs. - Religion – the power of the Papacy (the Pope) – established close relations with Gorbachev – so where was the conflict?
  • 13) Wordy & lengthy sentences
  • 14) Irrelevant facts – especially figures in territorial disputes or natural resources
  • Example : How to timprove this paragraph?
  • According to Alan Cassel, an ideology is “a set of closely related ideas held by a group” that embodies “a broad interpretation of the human condition”. Raymond Aron states that it is a “secular religion” which strikes just the right note. We can see that some conflicts have ensued from ideological differences, where a nation fights a war just to assert its dominance of the ideology internationally. This is similar to the spread of religion and religious wars are fought between two religions which do not agree with each other, thus its comparison to secular religion. An eg. to prove this point that these tensions have arisen from ideological differences would be the Soviet Union’s ideology that socialism was superior to capitalism and democracy, and its rootedness in the Soviet policy. The ideological element in the Soviet policy led to the Soviet Union using force directly against other communists countries, like in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia……All this was to eliminate heretics, which in this case would be countries that did not believe in socialism, as these countries did not adopt the Soviet ideologies threatened the legitimacy of the Soviet regime. Thus we can see that tensions and conflicts that prevailed in the past decades have to do with ideological diffferences.

How to improve

  • Start the first statement with a topic sentence stating the given factor in the question or the first factor you have identified in the introduction.
  • Leave out unnecessary definition
  • Factor is ideology – don’t include religion
  • Ensure that ideological differences is between totally different ideologies and not within an ideology
  • Must include an example of a war that had arisen out of the ideological difference
  • If you have used nationalism, territorial disputes and competition over natural resources in the introduction, the next paragraph you should begin with nationalism.


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