You are required to write a 2000 word essay reviewing three sources. If you exceed or fall short of the word count by more than 10% you will be penalised. You are free to choose the topic for the assessment; however, the focus of this work should be a subject that is of central relevance and importance to your programme of study and research interests (perhaps a topic that you are considering researching for your final dissertation). The task
and selection of sources will allow you to become familiar with some of the material that you are likely to be working closely with during the course of your studies.
You must review THREE peer-reviewed sources and ensure that you write, approximately, an equal number of words on each source. It is important that your essay critically analyses, synthesises and evaluates your three sources, and does not just descriptively summarise the content of these sources. These terms will be explained and explored in the workshops before you begin work on the review essay.
The source materials for review should be as follows:
1. A scholarly book or monograph
2. A journal article – this can be either be accessed electronically or as a ‘hard copy’
3. An appropriate Internet resource
The book must be scholarly. The journal article must be peer-reviewed. The Internet
resource must be academically appropriate. I shall explain these terms in the workshops.Ensure that you fully and consistently reference your work and that you include a full
bibliography of the sources reviewed as well as those consulted when preparing and writing
The review essay will assess all three intended learning outcomes:
1. Demonstrate an awareness of approaches to research and associated problems.
2. Display analytical, critical, communication and presentation skills to a level
appropriate to post-graduate study.
3. Demonstrate skills in independent information retrieval and in academic investigation at postgraduate level.
You may find the following sources useful:
Global Issues in Context. A comparative search engine that generates varied source material
available through Locate.
A Fink, Conducting Research Literature Reviews: from the Internet to Paper (001.42 FIN)
C Hart, Doing a Literature Review (808.0663 HAR)
D Ridley, The Literature Review (001.4 RID)
Mike Wallace, Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates (378.170281 WAL)
These sources (and others like them) will offer guidance on points such as:
• The importance of looking at a wide range of literature when researching
• Reading effectively
• Reading critically
• Writing critically
• Making use of literature within your studies
Some points to consider:
• Read some book/article reviews in the journals that you use for your studies as a guide to how to construct your own reviews.
• In addition to looking at academic journals, make use of reports by think-tanks, governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, broadsheet newspapers and current affairs periodicals
• Ensure that you read critically and analytically
• Although a very brief summary of the source will be needed, you are required to do more than just summarise what you read
• Introduce the source
Focus on the central argument or direction of the source
• What are the differences and/or similarities between the arguments advanced by your sources and between the arguments advanced by your sources and the wider literature that you have read. Does it offer a new perspective?
What is its
contribution to the field of study? To do this you will need to have a broad understanding of at least some of the most important published material within the specific field of study so that you can choose which to write about and be able to assess how your chosen sources fit within the existing literature
• Make sure that the opinions that you express on the work are well supported and appropriately referenced
• It is essential that the reviews of each source are written in your own words using the guidelines above. It is not acceptable to rely on review information included on general web sites such as Amazon
• It is also important that you write a coherent essay in which you provide links between the sources. It is not acceptable to provide three separate reviews