When grading written assignments, I will primarily be looking for the following elements:
Relevance and thoroughness: The arguments and statements in your written assignment should be directly related to the assignment topic. Papers containing unrelated or marginally related arguments and statements will receive lower scores. In writing your paper, be sure to keep your writing focused on what is being asked in the assignment, and try to avoid vague or overly general discussions.
Textual support: Much of the content of this course consists of primary writings of historically significant political philosophers. In preparing your written assignments, you can demonstrate your understanding of these authors and texts through relevant textual references. A very effective paper will selectively use quotes from the original texts to help build and support your own arguments or explanations. Try to avoid excessive use of quotes, however, as these papers should display your writing abilities, rather than your copying abilities. Papers containing minimal or no discussion of the relevant authors and texts will receive lower scores.
Style: Your written assignments should be generally readable and free from common writing problems, such as run-on sentences or paragraphs and improper citations. Additionally, an excellent paper will be generally well structured with all arguments presented in a logical and flowing order.
Spelling and grammar: While I do not specifically grade on spelling and grammar, I expect written assignments to be generally free from spelling and grammatical errors. Written assignments with problems of unreadability due to excessive errors of spelling and grammar will receive lower scores.