Assessment #1: Short Essay
Length: 1500 words
In the first few weeks of this unit, we have seen that the goal of environmental protection (and the task of
dealing with the consequences of our past neglect) forces us to make difficult choices between numerous
competing values. This process, in turn, presents us with a range of difficult moral, political, and
economic questions. This first assessment aims to exercise our critical reasoning skills, and make a
persuasive argument about how to deal with some of these difficult questions. In 1500 words, answer one
of the following questions in the form of a persuasive essay.
Option 1: According to the IPCC, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock (mainly ruminant animals
like cattle used to produce meat and dairy) are among the most dangerous threats to the climate.
Australians consume more meat and dairy per capita than any other country on earth. Does Australia have
an obligation to restrict domestic meat/dairy consumption? Why, or why not?
Option 2: According to the UN, the past decade has seen more than 20 million people around the world
forcibly displaced from their homes due to climate change, and by 2050, it estimates this number could
rise to as many as 1 billion people. As a wealthy Pacific nation, does Australia have a heightened
obligation to accept ‘climate migrants’ over the coming decades? Why, or why not?
What is a Persuasive Essay?
A persuasive essay is a piece of academic writing where the author utilizes logic and reason to show that
one idea is more legitimate than another idea. It attempts to persuade the reader to adopt a certain point of
view or to take a particular action. The argument must always use sound reasoning and solid evidence by
stating facts, giving logical reasons and using examples. It is thus crucial to conduct research using
credible, up-to-date sources. When planning a persuasive essay, follow these basic steps:
1. Choose your position. Which side of the issue or problem are you going to advocate, and what
solution will you offer? Know the purpose of your essay.
2. Research your topic. A persuasive essay must provide specific and convincing evidence. It is
necessary to go beyond your own knowledge and experience.
3. Structure your essay. Figure out what evidence you will include and in what order you will present
Research & Comprehension
• Are the journals, books and other sources that are used relevant & well chosen?
• Are there enough academic sources to sufficiently make the argument?
• Has the author avoided using the same sources over and over?
• Has the author demonstrated a strong and clear comprehension of the subject matter?
• Has the author captured the complexity and nuance of the issue, or is it overly simplistic?
Development of the Argument
• Has the thesis statement been clearly and explicitly stated? Or is it possible that someone could read
the intro and still not be sure what the paper is arguing?
• Have sufficient empirical examples been used to illustrate the argument?
• Is the analysis strong? Does it capture the complexity of the issue?
• Has the essay made a choice about what are the most important points to focus on? Or is the focus
• Has the essay avoided overuse of paraphrasing and summarising? Have quotes been used
appropriately and sparingly? Is the author’s own voice clearly expressed?
• Does the paper provide a good description of the issue/problem and the facts surrounding it?
• Does it adequately consider and refute the counter-argument?
Organization & Structure
• Is there a coherent and obvious introduction, body and conclusion?
• Does the introduction provide a coherent roadmap for the argument and essay?
• Does it tell the reader how the essay will be structured?
• Does the introduction tell the reader what conclusions will be drawn?
• Does the conclusion adequately underscore the findings and restate the thesis? Does the conclusion
provide a brief reflection that tells the reader what it all means and/or what the implications are?
• Are there signposts (e.g., sub-headings, section summaries) to help the reader follow along?
• Does the essay flow in a concise and coherent manner throughout?
Grammar & Editing
• Does the essay display proper punctuation, spelling, syntax & sentence structure? Is there evidence of
thorough editing & proofreading?
• Has correct essay formatting been used throughout the paper (e.g., proper spacing, no contractions,
proper formatting for large quotes, etc.)?
• Are the references and bibliography formal and consistent (has the student demonstrated they know
how to use a formal referencing style in the text and bibliography – e.g., MLA, Harvard, Chicago,
etc.)? Note – any formal referencing style is fine, just be consistent.
• Are sources consistently cited where necessary?
• Does the essay stay within the word limit?
Frequently Asked Questions
• Is there a 10% leeway on the word limit?
Yes, 10% over or under the word limit is fine.
• What referencing format should I use?
Any formal academic style you like (e.g., MLA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.).
• Does the word limit include the references?
No, feel free to include all the references necessary.
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