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This course is assessed in a combined end-of-semester submission of a portfolio consisting of student work up to a maximum of 5000 words, with a self-assessment and bibliography that does not count toward the word total. The portfolio will demonstrate that the student has met the learning outcomes through course activities combining broad engagement with in-depth examination of specific themes or methods, deriving from the questions and methods developed in course discussions and readings. The self-assessment will evaluate the student's learning in relation to their personal goals and the course learning outcomes, and students will build toward the self-assessment with discussions of goals and learning approaches at the start and middle of the course.

Submission Components

Your submission will be in the form of a blog portfolio, which we will set up and discuss how to assemble during the semester. The portfolio will include a set of longer and more polished writings that you will develop: the Bibliographic Essay, Topical Analysis, and Narrative Exercise.

If there are other formats or approaches you would like to attempt based on your own learning goals and needs for the course, you may propose alternative portfolio elements to the course organisers no later than week 6 of the course, and these must be approved prior to submission. We are happy to discuss your ideas with you.

For your Bibliographic Essay, Topical Analysis, and Narrative Exercise, we ask you to send both course organisers a brief sketch (can be as little as a few sentences plus identification of a couple key sources) of your proposed topic by the end of week 6 for feedback. We will discuss these collectively during week 7.

Self Evaluation

You will reflect on your learning activities in the course, including your contributions as presenter and recorder, and how you have met the course learning outcomes and your personal goals for the semester. You will also consider the marking criteria for the course and give yourself a mark. There is no word limit but we expect this portion of your submission will be about 1-2 pages. We will discuss the self-evaluation process during class toward the end of the semester.

Your self evaluation should be structured in four components:


Everyone comes to this course with a different background and interests and has different needs and priorities for the course. Your outcome for the course should be understood in the context of your own situation and aims. What were your initial goals for the course (and why), and have they changed during the semester (and why)?


You have been asked to be very independent in determining what and how you read and prepare and develop skills in this course. What did you do in this course to achieve your goals? What worked well to help you learn? Were there activities that were initially a struggle where you saw yourself improving? How did you approach your reading, writing, and other learning activities? Were there activities where you put in a special effort or that felt especially significant? Were there activities where you missed out or did not devote as much attention as you think you could/should have?


What did you achieve in this course? Is there an achievement of which you are particularly proud? Look at your goals as well as the official learning outcomes and point to evidence from your activities and portfolio submission that demonstrates what you have accomplished.


What mark would you give yourself, and why?

Please refer explicitly to the official marking criteria. We suggest you mark yourself with a multiple of 5, e.g. 65 if you feel firmly in the criteria for 60-69, or 60 if you feel on the border between the 50-59 and 60-69 criteria. Some indicative guidelines for this particular assessment are:

  • 0-30: incomplete assessment, partial answer, or otherwise does not evidence completing the course outcomes to the extent hoped. File a Special Circumstances application if applicable and use the feedback from this submission to improve your work for the summer resit diet.
  • 30-40: these marks tend to reflect not having been able to focus on the course, picking up bits and pieces but not demonstrating completing the course to the desired minimum standard. Usually, submissions show “completing the assessment without completing the course” and you may have found yourself relying heavily on external sources or guesswork rather than understandings built up from the semester's readings and discussions. If you find yourself in this position, we'd rather you take the time to regroup and refocus on course materials for the resit rather than rush through this kind of submission, and we are happy to give feedback on what you have at the deadline to help you toward this.
  • 40-50: this is a basic passing mark. You've demonstrated understanding of the essential ideas of the course by completing all elements of the assessment, fully citing course readings to show your engagement with them, and showing that you have met the learning outcomes.
  • 50-60: this is a mainline passing mark. You have shown not just a minimum understanding of the course and attainment of the learning outcomes but a solid understanding that you can take with you in your further studies. You have shown an understanding of not just individual ideas and themes but how they connect to each other and across the course.
  • 60-70: this is a high passing mark. You have thoroughly demonstrated your understanding of course themes and your attainment of learning outcomes. You discuss and fully cite course readings with confidence, informed by your clear understanding of major ideas from seminar discussions.
  • 70-80: this is a distinction mark. You have gone above and beyond to show your mastery of the course materials and themes, drawing out nuances and implications that go beyond what we discussed in the seminar and developing higher level connections based on your independent effort to synthesize and interrogate what we covered in the class.
  • 80-100: you have demonstrated an authoritative mastery of the course, with a confident understanding of how details and connections across the course matter in terms of the course themes.

We do not think marks should be mysterious, and hopefully this evaluation process gives you an accurate sense of where your work stands, but we may raise or reduce your mark if we think it should be higher or lower after reading your whole submission.

Bibliographic Essay

Further details have been discussed in class.

  • Approximately 2000 words, not including bibliography.
  • Choose a weekly theme from the course (or propose your own cross-cutting theme).
  • Read at least 3 items in detail and enough of the Further Readings and relevant sources identified based on your detailed reading to situate these core sources in a historiographical conversation.
  • Some examples of multibook reviews or bibliographic essays can be found in the reviews section of Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences for recent years or a recent collection of bibliographic essays on literature related to pandemics.

Topical Analysis

Further details have been discussed in class.

  • Approximately 2000 words.
  • Choose a topic related to your own academic interests and historicize it using materials from the course Resource List as well as relevant further readings.
  • Your analysis should demonstrate mastery of course concepts and readings.

A good resource for identifying further readings related to your topic (in addition to consulting Lukas and Michael) is the Isis Current Bibliography.

Narrative Exercise

Further details have been discussed in class.


Details about the Bibliography will be discussed in class.

Submission Process and Technicalities


Submission Deadline: 22 April 2024.

We will consider your assessment submitted if you have posted the required elements of your personal blog (see below) by the deadline. You may continue to update your submission materials until the deadline.

If you have an assessment variation (e.g. learning adjustment, extension, exceptional circumstance) that affects your deadline, please email both instructors as soon as possible to inform us of the revised date when we should consider your assessment submitted.


Please post your Bibliographic Essay, Topical Analysis, and Narrative Exercise as three separate posts on the collective course blog. (If you require an alternative submission method please email the instructors as soon as possible.) The earlier you post drafts, the more opportunity you will have for preliminary feedback from peers and instructors.

Include a bibliography of Works Cited at the bottom of each post. The Works Cited section does not count toward the total word count, but your in-text citations and anything else apart from the bibliography do count.

Personal Blog

For the personal elements of your submission and feedback, you will each have a personal blog alongside the shared course blog. To create or edit your personal blog, click the Self Evaluation Blog link on the university course platform for this course.

Basic setup

There is a little housekeeping to do first1):

  1. Click the Customise link in the menu at the top of your new site.
  2. Under Site Identity, change the Site Title to your name in the format Firstname-Lastname.
  3. Click the Activate & Publish button in the top left of the page.
  4. In the top menu, you should see your name as the name of the blog. Click on this to open the dashboard.
  5. In the menu on the left, click Posts. You will see a sample post. Hover over it and click the Bin option to delete it.
  6. Likewise, go to Pages and bin the sample page. We will not use the pages feature for this course.
  7. Finally, click on Users and then Add New and add both instructors (m.barany and lengelma respectively, followed by with the role Author so that we can view and provide feedback on your work.

Self Evaluation Post

Click Post from the + New menu at the very top of your blog (or create a new post by any other method … there are many!) and title it Self Evaluation.

At the top, provide a list of links to your coursework from the collective course blog:

  1. Click the Numbered List icon from the editing menu or press Shift+Alt+O on your keyboard.
  2. For each entry, click the Insert Link icon from the editing menu (or Ctrl+K) and paste the URL from the appropriate post on the course blog.
  3. Following each link, indicate the word count in parenthesis. Do not include the Works Cited section in your total.
  4. Beneath your list, put the total number of words for your three coursework components, making sure the total is under 5000.

Then, include the four sections explained in the Self Evaluation guidance on this page (above). Make the section headings stand out by formatting them using a Heading style from the drop-down menu on the left of the formatting options in the edit window (by default the format will be Paragraph).

Remember to press Publish or Update when finished editing!

If you have posted a self-evaluation, your coursework will be considered submitted at the submission deadline. You can continue to edit your work until the deadline.

Word Limit

There is a strict word limit of 5000 words for the combined Bibliographic Essay, Topical Analysis, and Narrative Exercise components. Individual components will vary in length, though we suggest you keep to a range of 1500-2500 words for the longer components and 500-1000 words for the Narrative Exercise so that they are neither too short nor too long.

Academic Integrity

(Statement borrowed from Dr Barany's introductory history of science course.)

The philosophy of this course is that students are basically honest and interested in learning, and if we are doing our job as instructors you will not be interested in cheating and there will be nothing much to gain from it. If you ever feel tempted to submit work that you haven't actually done for yourself for this course, we'd rather you just talk to us about time management, study skills, or making the assignments more interesting so that you can actually learn from the course!

Worthwhile assessment means using tools and practicing skills that are appropriate to the course. We ask students in this course to focus on understanding (and demonstrating your understanding of) materials in the resource list rather than use external sources or reference materials, because in this course working with these materials is an important skill we want you to develop. We ask you to practice writing from scratch without the use of assistive technologies such as automated translators, text generators, or composition assistants, not because these tools cannot be useful in the right contexts but because in this course they get in the way of the kinds of thinking and writing we want you to learn.

We also think it is our responsibility to teach you good habits of reading, writing, and referencing. These are lifelong skills that go beyond slogans like “write in your own words” and “cite your sources”. As long as you take these lessons seriously and follow the assignment guidance there is no need to stress about “plagiarism rules” or “accidental misconduct”.

If you are struggling in the course or do not know how to do something you think you should be doing, we would always rather have a conversation with you about it and try to help, even if the deadline is near.

This course does not use commercial similarity-scoring software. Researchers at our university and colleagues around the world have shown such software to be dubious and harmful for pedagogy.

The School of Social and Political Science has a somewhat different attitude and approach toward “Academic misconduct” and this course is subject to the associated policies at this website.

adapted from the UoE student wordpress guide by Niki Pryde
topics/assessment.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/25 12:04 by mjb