Designing academic writing tasks

In my discipline (Political Science), academic writing tasks are usually essay-styled writings. In practice, this means that when I give academic writing tasks, I expect the students to discuss the given topic from different perspectives as well as to share his/her own critical views concerning the topic.

Stylistically essays are less restricted than for example scientific articles. That doesn’t mean of course that everything goes. As all good writings, essays should be structurally logical and coherent. They should have a starting point, critical review of the topic and at the end, conclusions too. As a teacher, I give students fairly much freedom in designing their writing tasks. I want the texts to be written in proper academic language and also a list of references should be at the end.

When designing academic writing task, I try to make relatively broad guidelines to essay questions or topics. I don’t want to narrow the area of study more than necessary in order to allow the students to write their text according to their own perspectives. Below is a list of essay questions I have made to a certain Political Science’s course:

  • What are the main features of the securitisation theory?
  • What politically controversial questions would you say are connected to the so-called war on terrorism?
  • How can security be seen as a value concept?
  • How has the concept of security appeared in international politics?

As you can see, I have seek to keep the questions as such that the students have the possibility not only to refer to course books but also to adduce their personal point of views concerning the matters in questions.