Research Essay

Assessment #2: Research Essay
Length: 2000 words
Value: 45%

Over the course of this unit, we have seen that the responses of governments and other major
institutions to environmental problems is a result of the numerous ideological, cultural,
geopolitical, and economic interests acting upon them. The objective in this assignment is to
demonstrate that you can critically assess the state of a country’s climate policies, and
understand how the above-mentioned forces have shaped it.
Essay question
Pick any country and answer the following question: why does their national climate policy look
the way that it does? If the country’s performance on climate change has been good, what are the
political, economic, cultural and/or geopolitical factors that have allowed it to succeed? If, by
contrast, its performance has been poor, what political, economic, cultural and/or geopolitical
factors have caused it to fail?
This is obviously a big/broad question, but you have a considerable amount of latitude in terms
of how you want to structure the argument and analysis, as well as the specific factors you’d like
to focus on. The essay must be structured around a single thesis statement of your choosing and
demonstrate a solid understanding of the subject matter.
A couple of good sources to help you pick a country are the Climate Change Performance Index
and/or Climate Action Tracker. It’s worth noting that many smaller countries will not have a
great deal of content with which to work. One way to narrow your search would be to focus on a
G20 state.

Grading Template
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
overly broad?
 Has the essay avoided overuse of paraphrasing and summarising? Have quotes been used
appropriately and sparingly? Is the author’s own voice clearly expressed?
Specific Content
 Does the paper provide a good description of the state of climate politics in the selected country?
 Does it provide a good description of the current policies in place?
 Has the author properly identified the main variables influencing the county’s climate
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 it 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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