To what extent can Central and Eastern Europe be defined a single coherent region? Illustrate the issues with a specific discussion of at least two states/nations in the region.
Essays should predominantly discuss Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), defined for the purposes of the course as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. It is fine briefly to discuss other regions such as Western Europe or for the former Soviet Union for the purposes of contrast with CEE. However, you will lose marks if large sections of your essay do not discuss the region covered by the course. If in doubt, please ask teaching staff for advice.
All essay questions expect you a relevant knowledge of and make specific reference to some specific countries or issues/policies. When writing your essay you should explain briefly why you have chosen the case study countries that you select; place them in the context in terms of the wider region; and/or explain why they are good or interesting test cases/examples for the wider issues. Indices such as Freedom House scores (see essay research resources link on Moodle) can be an effective way of taking an overview of different countries of region.
When writing on case studies, you should be careful that you do not spend too much time and space simply ‘telling the story’ and relating events – referencing can be used to refer the reader to more detailed information when you do not have space to relate events in detail.
If choosing countries as different case studies, you may want to compare them perhaps use some of the principles of the Comparative Method which you are covering in SEES2106 Comparative Political Analysis. If you do this, you should explain why comparing the cases makes sense but you do not need to do so at length or to refer explicitly to comparative methods. Be careful not to re-use the same material in two essays or you will run the risk of ‘self-plagiarism’ which is regarded as form of plagiarism and subject to penalties.
As an approximate ‘rule of thumb’ specific discussion of your case studies might take up around 40-50% of your essay length.
It expected that you will do some independent research on the case studies, including acquiring some relevant background knowledge that you do not directly incorporate about in essays. The quality and extent of independent research you do will be recognised in the mark.
For most questions, you will also gain marks by showing up-to-date knowledge of the region. Especially when researching specific aspects of recent events, it is acceptable to supplement academic articles/ books using and referencing media, think-tank and NGO reports. However you should be careful to distinguish comment from fact from comments and be aware that some sources more be more objective and accurate than others. There is a section of suitable research resources for the course on the Moodle site.
You are welcome to use media and other sources in languages of the region where these contain information not available in English. However, if an equivalent source is available in English, for the benefit of your readers – and to showcase the quality of your independent research – you should identify these and cite these.
Building on key reading/class discussion
For several essays titles, authors of key reading and readings you will have looked at in discussion classes are mentioned. You take these authors/readings as a starting point and their arguments in some detail, but also do additional academic reading and research.