I. The Question （Need do both side outline！PLZ）
“Realist approaches explain more about the most important things in world politics than any rival
theoretical approach. The assumptions underlying Realism correctly describe the realities of
world politics – the anarchical system that creates acute insecurity and causes states to value
power and domination, the fact that states are doomed to competition and conflict, and that what
little cooperation we see is not significant and merely reflects underlying power. Realism is an
enduring paradigm, as the behavior of nations has not changed for centuries, and never will.”
Some notes on the prompt: This is obviously a slanted and one-sided quotation, but remember
that you will need to understand the critics of Realism, the rejoinders, counterpoints, etc., etc.
(“Realism” refers to both classical and structural variants, so make sure to keep the two distinct,
The Take-Home Midterm
You will write a 2-page single-spaced “detailed outline” on the prompt above. Use reasonable
fonts and margins.
The written portion of the exam is due right after the debates. We will set up a folder on Canvas.
(I realize that this means that some sections will have some extra days to prepare for their
debates and write their papers; the TAs and I will take this into account when we do the grading.
Think of these outlines as a longer essay boiled down to its essential points. But it is more than
just an outline: you should also use prose to flesh out and develop the various arguments. I will
show you some examples in class.
Consider leading off with a summary statement of one position, followed by the main
substantive arguments to support that position. You should consider using “bullets” or short
headings combined with prose. Think hard about the arguments, counter-arguments, critiques,
and comebacks. You should focus on providing analysis, not mere description. There is a lot of
information to cram in, so you need to focus on the most crucial information and analysis and
present it in a clear and logical manner.
You should then do the same (summary statement, bullets and prose, analysis) for the other side
of the debate. You should include a short, integrative conclusion. You of course should have
your own position, but you must demonstrate your understanding of the other side of the
argument. Remember to stay focused on the question.
You are responsible for all materials covered in the readings, lectures, and class discussions.
You need to demonstrate that you have mastered the readings for the course. You do not need
footnotes but put everything into your own words.
One reminder: each of you should write your own, original papers (of course). That said, I
encourage you to work with your teammates on the substance and even the structure of the
paper. I think you will find that you can learn a lot from each other. As this course is not graded
on a strict curve, you should think in non-zero-sum terms (again, it is OK to help each other!!).
Rubric for the papers
I. Substance and presentation
— covers both sides, in a balanced manner; stays focused on the parameters of the debate
— covers all core points, with proper emphasis on the most important arguments
— presents materials in an organized manner (demonstrating understanding of the argument)
II. Strength of Analysis
— grapples with arguments on both sides, assesses validity of assumptions and evidence
— presents strong, thoughtful, deep, and insightful analysis (as opposed to mere description)
— has a clear and analytically supported argument/conclusion
— shows evidence of having really thought about all aspects of the prompt
— incorporates insights from the readings (i.e., not just based on lecture or group work)