History 210 Winter 2009

Term Paper Assignment (worth 20 percent of grade)

Due on 12 March 2009!

Students must submit a copy of their term papers to www.turnitin.com by 3 pm!

(Turnitin.com Class ID: 2552109; Password: gilgamesh)

They must also bring a paper copy to class: due at 3:10 pm!


The assignment is relatively simple. Write a term paper on one of the following topics:


Option A: Compare two empires in world history.

We have examined a number of empires in the course so far. Compare at least two of these empires, making an argument about which empire was more effective as an empire and explaining why it was more effective. Of course, in order to do this, you will have to explain what you mean by “effective.” There are several possible ways to define the term. It is crucial that your paper has an argument.


Option B: Write a historical critique of one of the following films:

  1. 300 (2007: directed by Zack Snyder)
  2. Alexander (2004: directed by Oliver Stone)
  3. Gladiator (2000: directed by Ridley Scott)
  4. Kingdom of Heaven (2005: directed by Ridley Scott)
  5. Apocalypto (2006: directed by Mel Gibson)


Write a critique of the film that summarizes the story, describing the main characters and events. Then critique the film. You must be critical: Identify historical inaccuracies and evaluate the film as historical narrative, ie.,could this film be used as a teaching tool and if so what cautions might have to be given students? You need to reach a conclusion about the value of the film as history and then make a recommendation. You are free to use internet sources as long as you cite them properly and do not plagiarize.

These films can be rented at any local video rental store.

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1.    Papers should be a maximum of five and a minimum of four pages (NOT including a title page). Pages should be numbered in the upper right hand corner.

2.    Papers must be typed or printed with standard margins of one inch all around, 12 point font, double-spaced, with indented (not block) paragraphs. Do not use folders; staple in upper left hand corner.

3.    Papers shall have title pages (see sample title page p. 3 below). Title pages do not count toward the minimum and maximum length requirements. The title of the essay should be thematic, ie. it should hint at the essay's thesis. Do not simply title your essay, "Paper." Ideally no two student essays will have the same title.

4.    These papers shall be expository essays. They should have a thesis that appears in the first paragraph or at least on the first page. The thesis should be supported with evidence, not simply assertions. Papers should have a conclusion that restates the thesis and wraps up the argument.

5.    Papers should be as free of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and logic errors as possible.

6.     If students use sources besides the textbook, they must include a References page written in proper MLA format.

7.     Late papers will be marked down one third of a grade per day.

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Grading of the Paper:

In grading your papers, I will employ the following criteria and questions:

  • Does your paper address the assignment?
  • Does the paper have an introduction, a thesis/argument backed up by evidence, and a conclusion?
  • Is the thesis argued persuasively and clearly?
  • Is the writing correct and clear in terms of grammar, writing style, punctuation, syntax, and citation?


CRUCIAL: your paper must address the assignment and have a clear, proven thesis.


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CITATIONS: You may use parenthetical citations for this assignment. For example: There is no evidence that the Olmecs thought in this way (Fernandez-Armesto, p. 222). When you quote from a source, the format should look like this example:

“The Roman empire was clearly the greatest of them all, at least according to historians” (Fernandez-Armesto, p. 254).

NB: It is very important to quote accurately.


Academic Integrity

Please click here to read CSUB’s policies on Academic Integrity (The document is pretty big; you can use your browser’s find function to go to the section on “Academic Integrity”). Students found to engage in academic dishonesty (cheating) will fail this course, and a letter indicating the violation of academic honesty will be placed in the student’s permanent file. Here is a small excerpt of the most pertinent section of CSUB’s policy on Academic Integrity:


Academic DISHONESTY (CHEATING) is a broad category of actions that use fraud and deception to improve a grade of obtain course credit. Academic dishonesty (cheating) is not limited to examination situations alone, but arises whenever students attempt to gain an unearned academic advantage. PLAGIARISM [see below for a fuller description] is a specific form of academic dishonesty (cheating) which consists of the misuse of published or unpublished works of another by claiming them as one’s own. Plagiarism may consist of handing in someone else’s work, copying or purchasing a composition, using ideas, paragraphs, sentences, phrases or words written by another, or using data and/or statistics compiled by another without giving appropriate citation. Another example of academic dishonesty (cheating) is the SUBMISSION OF THE SAME, or essentially the same, PAPER or other assignment for credit in two different courses without receiving prior approval.


Understanding Plagiarism

         This explanation may be helpful: You commit plagiarism if you use another’s words OR ideas OR phrasing without giving that author credit. Thus plagiarism is best avoided by putting the author’s ideas into your own words and letting your readers know that they belong to the author. This can be done simply by following your sentence with a page reference to the work to which you need to give proper credit.

         The best papers avoid quoting the author. Sometimes a quotation is helpful if you want to capture the author’s masterful style (though only on rare occasion), but in general you will better digest another’s ideas if you think about them and translate them into your own words and style. This practice will also aid the flow of your paper.

         If you do quote an author, any excerpts over three lines should be indented and put in a single-spaced block. No quotation marks are used at either the beginning or the end of this block. However, when quoting shorter passages, the author’s words must be placed in quotation marks and followed by a footnote identifying the specific sources and page number.


Here is an example of how the title page should look:





Imagining the Afterlife: Visions of "Heaven" in Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism

(note: you may use larger font for the title only on the title page)




















Frank Smith

History 210

Dr. Mark Baker

April 29, 2008


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Back to History 210 syllabus