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How to write a good essay in International Relations (IR):

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This article was written by Sana K.

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1. Be clear about the essay question, go to your supervisor and rephrase the question in your own words more than once to make sure you do understand.
2. If the question has a historical part, political part and social part, remember that you need to address them all.
3. Structure matters; make sure you align expectations with your supervisor whether you are expected to have a case study through which you present analysis that aligns with what you bring in the conceptual section or just have an introduction and a whole discussion only and conclusion.
4. You need to start reading about the subject you wish to write one a month before the deadline.
5. Read to understand the topic, don’t read to write or choose quotes.
6. After one week of reading to understand start writing a skeleton of the main arguments you wish to bring in the essay and think of possible counter argument.
7. Choose the IR theory you think that explains best your main argument, explain that in the conceptual section.
8. Check how other IR theories that you didn’t choose to be as the one supporting your main argument engage with your argument. Include those also in your conceptual section.
9. Do make an overarching statement of the different sub-arguments you present, it shows you do understand the topic as a whole and are able to present a comprehensive analysis.
10. Do use connecting sentences between one paragraph to another; the reader shouldn’t be figuring out what the connection between one paragraph to the next one.
11. Don’t be descriptive of what scholars said about a specific topic, you need to rather present analysis. Analysis should include your own original thought and further problematizing a topic/question.
12. Have your conclusion state how you engaged with the counter arguments in your analysis/case study and why your main argument is still the strongest and most supported as you have presented both in the conceptual section and case study.
13. A few days before the deadline, take your eyes away from the essay for few hours at least and then re-read it with fresh eyes all as one unit without making any changes.
14. Make changes if needed and allow time for proofreading.
15. Good Luck.


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