The Balfour declaration and its consequences, Britain’s failure in Palestine”

History and Politics 

How to write a critical essay? 

  • ●  Choose a topic 
  • ●  Organise and plan 
  • ●  Academic style 
  • ●  Literature review / theoretical framework 
  • ●  Original argument 

Choose a topic 

  • ●  Not too big, not too small. 
  • ●  Justify your choice (with the framework and literature review) 
  • ●  Be aware of your limits (wordcount, sources, positionality…) 

Organise and plan 

  • ●  Start early, for example today 
  • ●  Shorten the length whenever possible 
  • ●  Signposting and deliver what is promised in the introduction 
  • ●  Correct proportions of text: (10% – 80% – 10%) 
  • ●  Correct proportions of paragraphs 

Academic style 

  • ●  Disciplinary and theoretical framework 
  • ●  Referencing and quoting: rephrase whenever you can 
  • ●  Accurate vocabulary: if needed, define your terms 
  • ●  Proofread, proofread, proofread! 
  • ●  Edit your bibliography 
  • ●  Avoid colloquialisms, introduce acronyms, etc… 

Literature Review / Theoretical Framework 

  • ●  Include relevant published research and analyse: 
  • ●  Academic context: when/who/why/what for… was this published? 
  • ●  Impact of publication: why is this text important? 
  • ●  Discourse: how are the publications interacting with each other? 
  • ●  Identify an opening: how is my text fitting in the conversation? 
  • ●  Do NOT cite Wikipedia! 
  • ●  Newspapers and magazines are NOT academic literature. 

Primary Material 

  • ●  Gather primary material 
    • ●  Justify the selection 
    • ●  Explain its obtention (if sourced personally) 
    • ●  Discuss the ETHICS of using this material 
    • ●  Analyse critically (limits and problems) 
    • ●  Extract conclusions 
  • ●  Develop your argument coherently, step by step! 
  • ●  Each discipline has its own aims 

Primary or secondary material? 

  • ●  Primary: Anything that is immediate, first-hand accounts of a given topic. Ex: personal interviews or memoirs, newspapers, NGO reports, published statistical data, films, fiction literature… 
  • ●  Secondary: anything that provides second-hand information, reviews or analyses a primary material. Ex: handbooks, academic literature, biographies, essays, encyclopedias… 

Blurring lines between 1st and 2nd sources: 

  • ●  Published handbooks on Bronze Age are secondary sources on Bronze Age, but first sources on discourses and narrations about Bronze Age 
  • ●  NGO publication may include raw data (primary) next to analysis (secondary) 

Original arguments 

  • ●  Critical essays: 
    • ○  Further or counter-argue someone else’s argument 
    • ○  Review someone’s work under new research/data 
  • ●  Methodological originality: 
    • ○  Change the disciplinary optics for a data set 
    • ○  Bring two/more authors together to build a framework 
  • ●  New sources: 
    • ○  Obtain new raw data (unlikely) 
    • ○  Translate raw data 

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