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ARCT3010 – History and Theories of the Built Environment
Essay – Guidelines
These are Guidelines to be used when assessing essays; they are not intended to be
prescriptive in determining the way you should order your essay, its narrative and any
subheadings – this is not a ‘pro-forma’ in that way. For some essays, one or the other
point may be more pronounced than others, though generally you should evaluate each
for its relevance to the chosen topic and type of essay (ie, one requiring primary
historical research, emphasising philosophical inquiry, calling on a recent or controversial
Establishment of topic, its significance or relevance, historical and theoretical
contexts of research
• Definition of topic, ie
o Definition of a working research topic or coherent statement of area of
concern to provide a context for reviewing the relevant literature. The
topic or concern will most likely be formed into a thesis (I will be arguing
that…etc), a question or set or related questions pertaining to an area of
concern or problematic which your research will tease out.
o Explanation the significance of the topic relative to the history and theory
of the built environment, its relevance for the study of the architecture
discipline, its practice or ethical concerns.
o Explanation of reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; criteria
to be used in analysing and comparing literature and the organization of
the review (sequence); if necessary, statement why certain literature is or
is not included (scope).
• Establishment of the key definitions, ie
o Effectiveness of the historical situation of definitions that have enabled the
student to identify appropriate literature and which has enabled the
discussion of the topic in the literature.
Content, Organisation, Theses, Propositions and Conclusions
• Extent and Appropriateness of Literature obtained relevant to the topic and
character of the research; use of literature from across the humanities and
multiple disciplines where needed or relevant; use of primary historical sources or
contemporary journalistic (newspapers and professional journals) where needed.
• Effective discussion of the literature, eg
o Effective summarising of individual studies or articles with as much or as
little detail as each merits according to its importance in the literature and
for the topic.
o Grouping of readings according to common denominators such as key
terms and subject matter, approaches, conclusions of authors, specific
purpose or objective, chronology, etc.
o Establishment of plausible connections between readings.
• Relevant propositions and conclusions
o Summary of major contributions of articles to the body of knowledge
relative to the focus established in the introduction.
o Evaluation of the current “state of the art” for the body of knowledge
reviewed, pointing out areas or issues pertinent to future study.
o Description of relevance between the topic of the literature review and the
implications for architectural endeavour (including your essay).
Expression and presentation
• Clear expression, use of scholarly conventions, citations, endnotes or footnotes,
bibliographies, effective use of subheadings and graphical organisation, proper
crediting of images for their source. Note: As stated in the unit guide the
Chicago Style is the academic style required for all essays.
Particular pitfalls to be avoided
• Failure to engage or address the stated essay topic or answer key questions
• Missing abstract or inclusion of poorly-written or inaccurate abstract that does not
describe the essay to follow.
• Repeating the abstract or slightly rewording it to form the essay introduction.
• Use of inappropriate online sources like Wikipedia, blog sites or websites from
disreputable, obscure or unauthoritative sources.
• Inappropriate or incomplete citations of authoritative online sources.
• Incomplete or inadequate sources; ie, failure to use appropriate book and journal
articles and newspapers (where relevant) or use only of architecture journal when
others across the humanities may be relevant.
• An essay which is too long or too short
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