Essay Assignment

The body of the essay should be about 10 doublespaced typed pages (2,500-3,000 words). Since this assignment is intended to introduce you to researching political topics, you must use 6 or more different sources as the base for your essay; note that six sources represent a MINIMUM. These sources should be referred to directly and fairly frequently in your essay. Essays that do not refer directly to the minimum number of sources will receive an FFAIL. Students may refer to the class 

text book and to the tutorial reader for their essay sources. You are encouraged to use online sources; however, only 3 online sources will normally count towards your minimum of 6 for the essay. Dictionary definitions and encyclopaedia references DO NOT count as one of your research sources

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Individual chapters in an edited text (other than the class textbook and tutorial reader) count as separate sources, as do journal articles

LATE ESSAYS WILL BE NOT ACCEPTED. A mark of 0ZEROwill be assessed for papers handed in late without approval from the professor

Students taking POL101W should note that you must submit a complete draft of your essay for comments prior to submitting your final version for grading

An electronic copy of the essay must be submitted to on the essay due date in order to receive credit for the assignment. All students should che 

your current course handout for due 


Essay Topics 

Chose one of the following topics and answer the questions posed. You should make use of these 

questions as the starting point to define your essay topic and thesis statement

  1. Compare and contrast presidential and parliamentary systems of government for their key 

characteristics, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. This analysis should include discussions of how 

different the two systems are, as well as 

to any 


some conclusion about which system is better on balance in your view, and justify your position. 2. Democracy is a general concept for a governing process but can have quite different 

manifestations. Examine take. Is there a core to the concept? To what extent is the democratic principle inherently limited by the practical realities of any political system? Can the people always rule, vote freely, or have their views effectively translated into the composition of governments or public policy? This analysis should also mention the problem of majority rule and the issue of how minority interests may or may not justify limits on the will of the majority

Sort Make 


son fxamine 

the different forms. Point to any common

  1. Compare and contrast the ways in which one of the main ideologies (i.e. liberalism, socialism




conservaus, etc) nas changed from its classical origins to me comemporary forms it takes. TU what extent has this ideology transformed itself? Can one still call it (for example) conservatism

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In examining these questions, you should be able to conclude whether there is a core of that school of thought which survives and gives it lasting meaning

  1. Examine critically the idea that each nation or peoplehas a right of selfdetermination to form a state of its own. What are the problems in defining the right or identifying who may claim it? What are the problems in exercising it? Do other groups who might be affected by the exercise of the right to selfdetermination have any say in what form selfdetermination should take? Examine what limits might be placed on the right and whether they are justifiable
  2. Discuss what ideologymeans and the different uses and abuses to which it may be put in

for political action and to what extent does a ruler’s ideology practically operate as a public justification for decisions reached for other, lessnoble reasons? You should use examples extensively that illustrate the main points of 

your analysis

political system. To what extent can ideology serve as a bluepri 

  1. Examine what federalism can mean, and the reasons why it might be adopted as the basic 

structure of a state. What problems does federalism help accommodate, and what problems does federalism itself pose to a political system? Your discussions should draw on practical examples 

from one or more federal states

  1. Political socialization is a very important process that creates and conveys the political culture of a society. Examine one of the agents of political socialization for the way in which it operates and 

the effects it may have in the country of your choice

  1. Why do interest groups exist

What are their functions? What are the positive and negative effects of their operation? Analyze how they may complement or undermine political parties and the institutional channels for political decisionmaking. Are they too powerful

  1. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of using a proportional representation electoral system 

rather than a single member plurality system. In answering this question you should discuss what an electoral system should be designed to achieve. Use examples. Also, your analysis should give some idea why a state might choose one form of electoral system over another

  1. What are th 

different roles of violence in a political system, both in maintaining a particular political order and in bringing about political change? When is violence more likely to be resorted to and why might it succeed? Is it sometimes necessary? Your analysis should include discussions of the problems of the institutions in a political system, different ways the government authorities may resort to force, and the political culture of the communities. How do value judgments cloud discussions of the legitimacy of violence in a political system

  1. What are the main roles that the United Nations plays in international politics? To what extent is 

it successful, and how should that success be gauged? Keep in mind that you should identify the main bodies of the UN and their legal powers (here you must choose which ones to discuss). Analyze the way in which the political context of the UN’s operation effect the use of its powers



What can reasonably be expected

  1. What are the different functions of political parties in different political systems? This answer 

should cover the roles of parties in a variety of political systems and discuss the positive and (if any) negative sides of the functions. Examine what factors relate to the effectiveness of parties. 13. Examine the nature of terrorism and how it might be distinguished from other forms of political 

violence. What should a democratic society consider in trying to balance the rights and freedoms 

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of its citizens against restrictions needed to contain terrorism and can a government go too farin fighting terrorism? In answering the second question you should draw from one or more countriesantiterrorism measures for examples

  1. Examine what judicial reviewis and its role in a democracy. What are the main controversies 

about this role of the courts? This analysis should include discussions of the need for limited government and who should decide those limits. What role should the accountability of decision- makers to the electorate play

  1. Examine the impact of nationalism on the political system in a country of your choice. How does the group involved define itself and what are the end goals that nationalism is used to justify? Are there competing groups, each using nationalism to justify certain political goals? In these discussions, you should be aware that nationalism can have different manifestations and objectives. Also, there can be positive and negative aspects of nationalism and some comment on them (and on the problems of assessing them) may be in order
  2. Examine the uses to which referendums may be put in a political system. What are the 

justifications for holding a referendum, and on what 

the merits of direct and indirect forms of democracy of issues? This analysis should discuss 

consideration should be given to the practical requirements and consequences of holding a referendum on a complicated or divisive 


  1. Analyze the different types of representation

in a democracy. What are the problems 

in providing for representation? Can different forms of representation be realized at the same time, or is a choice required? What are the problems of accountability that are posed by relying on 


  1. Examine the concept of citizenship and whether it should or should not be possible for a person 

to hold citizenship in more than one country at the same time

  1. Any other topic approved by your instructor 

Students are reminded that proper credit must be given to other authors

When another 

author’s words are used they 


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