Assignments are designed to initiate creative and independent thinking, and to find out what you know. In all History modules, you are required to master reading skills as well as to assimilate a certain amount of historical material. You are also expected to understand the ideas of historians and to identify different debates and points of view. Assignments therefore serve an important teaching function. When we mark your assignments, we provide you with feedback which will assist you to see whether you are on the right track. If you express yourself in your own words and not merely rewrite your sources, assignment writing will become a productive learning experience. You will achieve a better perspective on your subject and learn to formulate your ideas more clearly. In this way, you will take full advantage of the tuition offered by the Department.
The type of essay question which is set can vary greatly and we cannot give advice which will cover all eventualities. Four common possible types of essay questions are dealt with here. You may, for example, be asked
1. To discuss, explain, analyse, or evaluate (assess) an event or events
2. To give an opinion on a statement or quotation
3. To establish the relative importance of a number of factors
4. To make a comparison
5. Discuss the reasons for the origins of the Industrial Revolution in England.
6. Explain why the Arabs were able to conquer Northern Africa after 640 AD
7. Analyse the reasons for the unbanning of the liberation movements in South Africa in 1990.
8. Evaluate the role played by environmental factors in the rise of the Zulu polity (1800 to 1830).
9. Explain why Hitler was able to rise to power in Germany in the early 1930s
10. Discuss how Hitler consolidated his power in Germany between 1933 and 1936