(Please note that seminar policies and notes on how work is graded, are only printed in the syllabus PDF).
Overview of Assignments
* There are no tests or exams *
* This is a research seminar *
* Participation in seminar discussions is largely voluntary, apart from presentations, but is actively encouraged *
Assigned readings, lectures, and discussions in seminar sessions are aimed at helping participants to develop a conceptual vocabulary and analytical frameworks that should be useful in producing their own research papers—either by applying, adapting, amending or critiquing what is covered in these sessions.
While there is no formal grade for students’ participation in seminars, the lack of active participation, and more than a couple of absences, usually has a noticeable impact on the quality of students’ written work, their level of intellectual engagement, and even their ability to complete assignments.
Otherwise, seminar participants will have to carefully balance attention to assigned readings, while pursuing their independent research and reading for their own papers. Participants are encouraged to read as much as possible of the assigned readings, which they can also use for their research papers. More on the research papers follows below.
In terms of the assignments in this seminar, all of them are geared toward the production of participants’ research papers, as part of a step-by-step process of mentoring and review.
This is the complete schedule of assignments, and what they represent in terms of the overall grade for the seminar:
Research Paper Prospectus (worth 20%): please send via email, as an attachment in .odt, .doc., .docx, or .pdf to: email@example.com, due on: January 29
Working Bibliography (worth 5%): please send via email, as an attachment in .odt, .doc., .docx, or .pdf to: firstname.lastname@example.org, due on: February 12
Annotated sources (worth 20%): please send via email, as an attachment in .odt, .doc., .docx, or .pdf to: email@example.com, due on: March 1
Structured outline (worth 5%): please send via email, as an attachment in .odt, .doc., .docx, or .pdf to: firstname.lastname@example.org, due on: March 12
Presentations, peer review (worth 10%): Five students presenting for this session, commentary and questions expected from seminar participants: from March 12 through to the last session.
FINAL PAPER (worth 40%): please send via email, as an attachment in .odt, .doc., or .docx only (no .pdf) to: email@example.com due on: April 23, 2013
Description of the Assignments
More detailed guidelines will be provided during seminar sessions and in response to questions. For the time being, these notes should serve as broad guidelines:
Research Paper Prospectus: A prospectus identifies the topic that you intend to investigate, and the kinds of questions and/or problems your paper seeks to address. You should thus be indicating what you want to research, and why. When you submit this assignment, you will not have had time to learn most of the concepts presented in this course—however, please offer at least a preliminary outline of how you intend to conceptualize and explain your argument, and this may draw on theories you have learned in other courses. Please provide a contingent outline of the structure of your paper, using sample subheadings. Finally, list the kinds of documentary resources that you will probably be consulting for your research—such as electronic journal databases (name them), newspaper articles, UN documents, etc.
Working Bibliography: Hard work and initiative are of course very much rewarded in this seminar, while also boosting the chances that your work will be published. As a goal, all of the items listed in your bibliography should roughly amount to a total of 250 pages of reading, not including assigned readings that you may use.
Aim for diverse sources: primary documents (such as speeches, papers produced by international organizations or government departments), newspaper articles, websites, academic journals, books by non-academics and public intellectuals, videos, etc.
List these sources using this style, and providing URLs for all electronic items (except for articles in journal databases or e-books found in those databases):
Surname, Name. (Year). “Title If This is a Journal or Newspaper Article.” The Source Which Published This Article, Volume number if applicable, Issue number if applicable, page-or pages.
Surname, Name. (Year). Title If This is a Book Title. City of Publication, Province or State: Publisher.
More on formatting references:
We will use the APA Style Guide, with one difference: please spell out the first names of authors listed in your References:
+ see the style guidebook at the bottom of this page.
You can use the free automatic citation maker here:
And please consult the resources listed here:
Annotated Sources: for a journal article or a book chapter, write one paragraph that summarizes what is most important for your paper (thus, not a comprehensive summary of everything in that source). For a newspaper article, one or two sentences will do. By the due date for this assignment, it is expected that you will have read no less than the page equivalent of six (6) journal articles, roughly 20 pages each. You should also consider skimming sources you have not yet fully read, but which you think you might do later, and group them in a separate section with some notes on how they may be useful.
The purpose is to start having notes at hand, and digesting your sources, in preparation for writing up your paper.
Using online sources works best when using Diigo (
), so that you can extract quotes as you read online, bookmark the site, and add your own notes in the same space. The seminar director recommends this strongly. It is also a great way to safeguard against any potential problem with plagiarism issues – see more below, and please consult the resources listed in the next section.
Structured Outline: This is best explained with an invented example below.
Official Rationale for Invading Iraq [this would be a heading in your eventual paper]
- Shifting explanations for the invasion [example of a point you cover in this section]
- The WMD argument
- Why the work of weapons inspectors was halted, undermined
- Colin Powell’s speech at the UN Security Council—key points
- Bush’s address to the nation
International Law and the Invasion of Iraq
- Key statements from legal scholars, diplomats
- Quotes from UN Charter
- Insider statements from UK and US governments
The Meaning of Occupation and Iraqi Resistance
- How occupation is defined under international law
- Extent of resistance, how resistance was characterized by US officials
- … … … etc. etc.
Your outline should encompass your paper, as you envision it, from start to finish. With this outline ready, you should be in a position to start filling it in, using the headings to organize your notes, and start writing up each section.
Presentations, peer review: Each seminar participant will informally present an overview of their project, read out to the other members of the seminar, in a presentation lasting not more than 5-7 minutes. The aim is to elicit comments and questions. Seminar participants are thus also required to actively participate.
Research Paper: Participants should not feel confined to using only academic sources, only disciplinary sources, and only items in print—not only, not mostly, or even not at all. An enormous wealth of papers, essays, and reports are available online, many from credible authorities and from excellent institutional, professional, and journalistic sites. In addition, many of those materials are authored by key actors in the very events that we discuss.
It is not expected that seminar participants, at this stage in their careers, will be producing “original” research that reveals what no one else knew about, or conceived. On the other hand, try not to just restate what has already been said abundantly. The aim should be for a sustained, in-depth examination of a given topic area, backed up by comprehensive reading of analysis, commentaries, and official documents where these are available. Also, you should focus first on using primary documents (published interviews, government papers, speeches, UN statistics, the websites of key actors—are just some examples).
Papers of a theoretical nature are also welcome, focusing on key concepts or ways in which debates have been analytically framed. Reviews of the most important literature on a given topic are also welcome, as long as they are well structured and aim towards some conclusion.
Otherwise, researchers should aim for a good sample of sources: newspaper articles, websites of the organizations or associations concerned, whitepapers, critical commentaries, and academic articles or book chapters. In no case should a researcher work with only one book. While there is no “magic number” of sources one should be citing in one’s essay, it is expected that on average the more advanced papers will be using the equivalent of between 10 and 25 substantial sources, beyond assigned readings (which may be included). Your sources can also include YouTube or other videos.
Bonus work? When doing their research, should seminar participants encounter images or photographs in the public domain that might be suitable for the cover of our book, please send the information to the seminar director. Should your image be selected, the seminar director will add the equivalent of a half letter grade boost to your final grade (i.e. a B+ will become an A-). Likewise, should you encounter key documents or speeches, that could be of broad interest beyond the limits of project, such items could be added to the Appendices section of the book. If your document is selected, the same rule as above applies: a half letter grade boost to your final grade. Such items must be received by the seminar director no later than April 23.
Topic areas in this seminar can be very diverse. Research projects must fit within the parameters of the course. Some examples could include, among others:
- Canada (the U.S., or NATO) in Afghanistan
- The New Imperialism: Histories and Theories
- Liberal Imperialism
- The New Military Humanism
- The “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P)
- The global spread of U.S. military bases
- Militarism in society and culture
- War Corporatism and Mercenaries: Profiteering, Contracting, Outsourcing
- Counterinsurgency (COIN)
- Human Terrain System (HTS)
- The militarization or “securitization” of Social Science
- “Soft power,” theory and/or practice
- Information operations
- The national security state
- Surveillance, foreign and domestic
- Drone wars
- Case studies, involving foreign intervention, such as: Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, Haiti, Venezuela, Iran, Syria.
For those with an earnest determination to see their final paper published in our volume, you should aim not to exceed 6,250 words (not including the list of works cited).
Useful resources for effective research papers:
♦♦♦ PLEASE DOWNLOAD/PRINT THE GUIDE FOR REFERENCE FORMATTING IN THIS COURSE –again, please note that we will now be spelling out the full first names of authors♦♦♦
All students in the seminar should invest some time in studying the following resources, some of which are mandatory for this seminar.
1. How to Find Research Articles:
2. How to Write a Research Paper:
3. How to Use the Web for Research:
4. Info Research 101 – Interactive Tutorial:
5. All Concordia Library “How To” Guides:
You might also consider becoming involved with Concordia’s Community University Research Exchange – see: