Essay instructions

In the seminars we are mainly concerned with raising questions rather than with deciding which answers are right. In your essay you are supposed to take up and defend your own position on one of the issues we have discussed i.e. you are supposed to give an answer to one of these difficult questions.

Basic Requirements

    Question: You must choose a question from those set, unless you have previously agreed with me (before December 13th) on a different topic that falls within the subject area of the course. The essay titles include closed and open ones. If you choose a closed title you must adhere strictly to the parameters given.

    Content: you must develop a sustained coherent and focussed argument for a particular claim or position in the style of analytical moral philosophy. That means your essay must be concerned with and make explicit use of moral philosophy concepts and arguments. Your argument must relate clearly to the question you choose. Even if you choose an open question you should refer to at least one of the class texts from the second half of the course  in a central way.

    Originality: Academic writing means taking part in a wider ongoing conversation by scholars on a certain topic. However the construction of your argument must be your own and you must clearly distinguish your original thinking, and your evaluation of other people's contributions, from that of other scholars.

    Academic style: Your paper should look academic. That means for example including an abstract of around 150 words, and providing citation and references in a consistent and scholarly style. It also means upholding the norms of good scholarship in your tone, exegesis, and peer review.

    Technical requirements: 3000-5000 words (excluding bibliography; + or - 10%). Submit by email before deadline. Single spaced; 12 pt; Microsoft Word format. (If you are taking part in the peer review, make sure your essay is anonymised.)

    Language: please proof-read carefully - linguistic competence is your responsibility. You have an obligation to the reader to provide a text they can understand. Unintelligible essays will receive a failing grade. Essays which are very difficult to understand will get a maximum of 7.

   Peer Review: If you opt in to the peer review, you must write a constructive and systematic review report within 2 days of receiving your assignment.


Schedule Essay 2

  • December 7th – Term paper titles released.
  • December  21st – Deadline for asking me for advice about topics, literature, etc or getting feedback on outlines (it's up to you whether you want to make use of this)
  • January 8th 13.00 – Essay Deadline (Essays submitted up to 1 week late will receive a 6 maximum. Essays submitted after this will receive zero). When you submit your essay, inform me whether or not you wish to take part in the peer review (in which case you will have a chance to resubmit 1 week later).

Peer Review (participation is voluntary)

  • January 8th - Essays assigned to reviewers (by me)
  • January 10th – Peer review reports returned to authors (via me)
  • January 15th – Deadline for resubmission (Usual conditions apply: Essays submitted up to 1 week late will receive a 6 maximum. Essays submitted after this will receive zero)
  • February 1st - Grades and comments returned


Grading criteria
<6: Insufficient. I.e. Failing grade.
Does not adequately meet the basic requirements (see above).
6: Sufficient
Meets basic requirements.
7: Satisfactory
Addresses the question; some argument development; reasonable understanding of the class literature and relevant concepts
8: Good
Clear thesis; cogent, coherent, justified argument; mastery of the literature and concepts employed.
9: Excellent
Interesting and original thesis supported by excellent argumentation; critical mastery of relevant concepts and literature.


Further information

General feedback on 1st Term Paper - Argument and Scholarship

Titles for Essay 2

Writing resources

Peer Review Instructions and Template for Essay 2

How to use the Peer Review
Subpages (1): Writing resources
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