Essay Guide

Essay Guide

NOTE: there will be a 2% per day penalty for late papers.

            Papers are to be submitted in class.
Late papers are to be put in the drop box in the History Department office. Do
not place them under the professor’s door.

            Electronic copies must also be
submitted to (students can access by clicking on
“Research Essay” which can be found in “Assignments” in the course website)




Students must write their
essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea, or a
passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using
quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes
or citations. Plagiarism is a major academic offense (see Scholastic Offence
Policy in the Western Academic Calendar).

All required papers may be
subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial
plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection
of plagiarism. All papers submitted will be included as source documents in the
reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers
subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the
licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and (

The following rules pertain to
the acknowledgements necessary in academic papers.

A. In using another writer’s
words, you must both place the words in quotation marks and acknowledge that
the words are those of another writer.

You are plagiarizing if you use
a sequence of words, a sentence or a paragraph taken from other writers without
acknowledging them to be theirs. Acknowledgement is indicated either by (1)
mentioning the author and work from which the words are borrowed in the text of
your paper; or by (2) placing a footnote number at the end of the quotation in
your text, and including a correspondingly numbered footnote at the bottom of
the page (or in a separate reference section at the end of your essay). This footnote
should indicate author, title of the work, place and date of Publication and
page number. Method (2) given above is usually preferable for academic essays
because it provides the reader with more information about your sources and
leaves your text uncluttered with parenthetical and tangential references. In
either case words taken from another author must be enclosed in quotation marks
or set off from your text by single spacing and indentation in such a way that
they cannot be mistaken for your own words. Note that you cannot avoid
indicating quotation simply by changing a word or phrase in a sentence or
paragraph which is not your own.

B. In adopting other writer’s
ideas, you must acknowledge that they are theirs.

are plagiarizing if you adopt, summarize, or paraphrase other writers’ trains
of argument, ideas or sequences of ideas without acknowledging their authorship
according to the method of acknowledgement given in ‘At above. Since the words
are your own, they need not be enclosed in quotation marks. Be certain,
however, that the words you use are entirely your own; where you must use words
or phrases from your source; these should be enclosed in quotation marks, as in
‘A’ above.

Clearly, it is possible for you
to formulate arguments or ideas independently of another writer who has
expounded the same ideas, and whom you have not read. Where you got your ideas
is the important consideration here. Do not be afraid to present an argument or
idea without acknowledgement to another writer, if you have arrived at it
entirely independently. Acknowledge it if you have derived it from a source
outside your own thinking on the subject.

In short, use of
acknowledgements and, when necessary, quotation marks is necessary to
distinguish clearly between what is yours and what is not. Since the rules have
been explained to you, if you fail to make this distinction, your instructor
very likely will do so for you, and they will be forced to regard your omission
as intentional literary theft. Plagiarism is a serious offence which may result
in a student’s receiving an ‘F’ in a course or, in extreme cases, in their
suspension from the University.


The University recognizes that
a student’s ability to meet his/her academic responsibilities may, on occasion,
be impaired by medical illness. Please go to
to read about the University’s policy on medical accommodation. Please go to
to download the necessary form. In the event of illness, you should contact
Academic Counselling as soon as possible. The Academic Counsellors will
determine, in consultation with the student, whether or not accommodation is
warranted. They will subsequently contact the instructors in the relevant
courses about the accommodation. Once a decision has been made about
accommodation, the student should contact his/her instructors to determine a
new due date for term tests, assignments, and exams.

If you have any further
questions or concerns please contact, Rebecca Dashford, Undergraduate Program
Advisor, Department of History, 519-661-2111 x84962 or

of the essay:

The essay should be 8-10 pages (approximately 2,000-2,500 words)
in length, double spaced and in 12
point font.

A word count must be included on the title page.

Although there is no formal penalty for essays that are too long or too
short, since such papers do not fall into the stipulated guidelines, they are
subject to a reduced mark.

NOTE: Since
this is an academic setting, it is expected that written material meet a
minimum standard of literacy (i.e., grammar, spelling, writing style, etc.).
Accordingly, those who are not familiar with writing essays, or those whose
native language is other than English, are expected to avail themselves of the
various writing skills facilities available on or off campus. One such resource
is the Effective Writing Program offered by the
Student Development Centre:

you have doubts about writing style or grammar, the following website could be
of help:

The essay must conform to one of
the conventional academic formats (i.e., proper citations, formatting of
quotations, bibliography, etc.). The preferred format is referred to as, “Traditional Endnotes or Footnotes with
Superscript Numbers (humanities),” as outlined in the following website:

NOTE : essays without proper citations for sources
will not be accepted.

Since, Rampolla, Mary Lynn A
Pocket Guide to Writing in History Eighth Edition  (Boston: Bedford Martins, 2015) is a required
text for this course, it is expected that students follow the guidelines
outlined in this book as to formatting, formulation of a thesis, etc.

Resource Material

Since these are research papers, it
is expected that primary and secondary sources other than the textbook will be
used (for explanations of primary & secondary sources see,

Generally, at least 5 sources (this
does not include textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.) are expected to
be consulted for an essay of this nature.

Of course textbooks, encyclopedias,
dictionaries, etc., may be used, but they should be used sparingly—a paper that
relies heavily on such sources will inevitably be very general in nature as
such reference material does not go into the detail needed for an effective

            Since the
textbook, Ebrey, Patricia East Asia: A
Cultural, Social and Political History Third Edition (Belmont, Ca.:
Wadsworth, 2014) is required for this course,
it is expected that you will use this book to give you the historical
background you may need to put the material in the essay into a proper
historical context. Inaccuracies in dates, historical events, etc., will
obviously undermine the credibility of your essay, so use your textbook as a
reference guide.

Websites should be used with
discretion. They can provide the most up to date data (as in the case of
government statistics, demographic data, etc.) but, generally speaking, they
are made for a broad readership, and therefore do not provide the detailed
analysis necessary for an academic paper. Moreover, it is often difficult to
assess the credibility of websites as authorship is usually not provided.
Finally, websites are unstable. Just because you found something on a website
yesterday doesn’t mean that it will be there today— it may be revised, or the
website may shut down. Whatever the case, if any of these issues arise the
integrity of your essay is put into question, and that could have an effect on
your mark. Remember, the onus is on the writer to use credible and authoritative
resources. So be forewarned.

Papers using websites must include
a printed copy of the passages from the websites that are cited in the essay.
NOTE: this does not apply to journal articles that are provided online as,
properly speaking, these are not really “websites.”

What is Expected
from the Essay

            The point of any essay is not simply
to reiterate what one finds in source material on a particular topic. An essay
should present one’s interpretation/understanding of a topic, or an aspect of a
topic, and to articulate that as precisely and coherently as possible. Thus, an
academic essay is not simply a list of facts, no matter how good the facts are.
Therefore, the essay should
have a thesis, or area of focus. This does not necessarily take the form of an
argument per se, but it does have to let the reader know what you are trying to
get across in the paper. For a guide on formulating a thesis, see the section,
“Thesis Statements,” in “Writing Support Handouts,” in the following website:

See also, “Offering a well-organized and persuasive
thesis,” in the
article, “Asking a Good Historical Question; Or, How to Develop a
Manageable Topic,” in the following website:

            See also: “Thesis Statements” in,

Thesis Statements

See also: “Moving from a topic to a Thesis”

For a general guide to writing history essays see, Rampolla, Mary Lynn A Pocket Guide to Writing in
History Eighth Edition  (Boston:
Bedford Martins, 2015).


Expectations are higher for the essay as students are
expected to utilize the comments and criticisms made on their first term
assignment and the book review in order to produce a more effective paper. Be
forewarned, your mark may suffer if you have not made an effort to improve on
the shortcomings pointed out in the previous assignments.


The following are the topics for your essay –

Topics will be limited to one person per tutorial – this is to
ensure that adequate library resources will be available for each topic. Choose
your topic from the following list and sign up in your tutorial. Substitutions
will be permitted only with the written consent of the instructor.

NOTE: The topics are purposely
broad to allow you to pursue any aspect of the topic that might interest you.
Keep in mind that you will have to narrow down the scope of the topics because
they are rather broad (i.e., essays that are too general are usually not very

Topics other
than those listed below may be chosen, but they must first be approved by the
teaching assistant.


changing status of Chinese women in modern timesChiang
Kai-shek China’s
export of labour: from the 19th to the 21st centuriesChanges
to China’s One Child Policy, 2015China
and TibetThe
Chinese Revolution of 1911Confucianism
in Modern ChinaThe
Cultural Revolution in ChinaThe
Democracy Movement in China (1980s)Deng Xiaoping and China’s Reform EraDispute
over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands: the Chinese perspective Empress
Dowager CixiThe
Great Leap ForwardThe
Long March“Made
in China”—product safety issues: Whose responsibility? Mao
May Fourth Movement Chinese
Media (why does China maintain strict control over its media?)The
Nationalist Era in Taiwan (how has the ‘2-28’ legacy altered the balance of
political power in post-war Taiwan?)Sun
Tiananmen Square IncidentThe
Nanjing MassacreThe
Warlord Era in 1920s ChinaYan’an
Era (how did the Chinese Communist Party develop its political strategy during
the Yan’an era?)


American Occupation of JapanBushidō
in Tokugawa JapanThe
Changing status of Japanese women in modern times.Tokugawa
Japan’s isolationist policyGovernment
and Business in Postwar JapanHiroshima
and the Atomic BombMeiji
in Modern JapanModern
Japanese Popular Culture (why did manga become so popular in post-war Japan?)The
Post-war Legacy of Japanese Imperialism (why is Japan reluctant to formally
apologize for its actions in Asia during the Pacific War?)The
Road to Pearl HarborThe
Russo-Japanese War“Cool


Changing status of Korean women in modern times.Christianity
in Korea (why did Christianity become so popular in Korea during the late 19th
and early 20th centuries)Cultural
Life of late-Chosŏn KoreaFour
‘Little Tigers’ and the Asian ‘Economic Miracle’Intellectual
Life of late-Chosŏn Korea (Silhak, “Practical
Occupation of Korea (1910-1945)Kim
Jong UnKim
Il-Sung and the DPRKThe
Korean Democracy Movement (1980s)The
Korean War‘Korean
Wave’ in Modern Popular Culture (why did Korean popular culture gain such
success in Asia in the 1990’s?)“Korean
Dictatorship in South KoreaThe
Political Structure of late-Chosŏn Korea The
North Korean Nuclear ThreatWomen
in Chosŏn Korea
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