Essay Guide Overview
This 5-page file contains:
– 1 page: Submission information.
– 1 page: Essay Questions (please choose one).
– 2 page: Essay Writing Guide; the easiest way to succeed with this essay is to follow the tips here.
– 1 page: Cover & Marking Sheet, which you *must append* as the first page of your essay.
Answer one of the questions below. To work on this assignment, please carefully read your chosen question and then do the following:
A) Each question requires you to critically judge an issue. Clearly explain the basis on which you make your judgment. You should devote a whole section to explaining this ‘basis’ for evaluating your topic. We will talk about this approach in class in Week 3.
B) To research, begin by reading any relevant pages in the text for your question.
C) Top up your reading with a minimum of 3 relevant academic journal articles, but preferably more. You may use other kinds of sources sparingly, but be sure to use mainly academic journal articles.
D) Follow carefully all the writing tips in the 2-page Essay Writing Guide (below).
Question 2 – Human Rights and the Constitution: Property Rights
The High Court of Australia recently ruled in favour of the Commonwealth government in the cigarette plain packaging case, JT International and British American Tobacco v Commonwealth (2012) 291 ALR 669. The cigarette manufacturers had argued that plain packaging laws constitute an ‘acquisition of property’ (eg, trade marked logos and images on cigarette boxes) not on ‘just terms’. Was this a good outcome? Should the Australian Constitution protect property rights robustly? Why or why not?
Essay Writing Guide
For a good paper you must have:
1. A Thesis
3. Read the Literature
4. Arguments and Facts, Not Just Conclusions
5. Written Clearly
1. A Thesis
• Your markers will look first at whether you have a thesis.
• A thesis is an argument. Your paper will set out to argue your thesis.
• The thesis gives unity/focus/structure to your paper. A paper without a thesis is a collection of ideas without any structure. It is too hard to follow and too superficial.
• A thesis must be specific in focus.
• The thesis must be stated in the introduction.
• ‘This paper will discuss the pros and cons of having a bill of rights in Australia’.
• ‘This paper will discuss the issues surrounding a bill of rights’.
No argument is disclosed. (What will your position be?)
• ‘This paper will argue that a bill of rights is a good idea for Australia’.
Not specific enough. (How will you reach such a conclusion?)
• ‘This paper will argue that a bill of rights is required, in particular because Australia is falling behind other countries in terms of protecting personal privacy. As will be seen, other countries have shown that written bills of rights provide effective means of protecting this right’.
This is narrow, focused and potentially therefore interesting. (This student is not just saying something superficial and obvious.)
• Having a thesis allows for the depth that a paper requires. Without a thesis, you say many unfocused things and remain superficial, dwelling on no point long enough. Make sure to explore one of your points/ideas in the paper in greater depth than others.
3. Read the Academic Literature
• Published papers usually have a thesis and depth. Reading the academic literature is absolutely essential to help find depth for your own argument.
• Avoid media and popular internet sources, except in rare cases.
4. Arguments and Facts, not Just Conclusions
• Lawyers don’t state a conclusion unless they have arguments and facts to back it up.
• Always ask, Why? about everything you read. Again, depth is essential. Keep digging deeper and exploring ideas.
• Acknowledge and explore some counterarguments – ie, reasons why some may argue your thesis is wrong or unpersuasive
• ‘The Act is unconstitutional’.
Why? What argument supports the conclusion? What facts?
• ‘I believe the Act is unconstitutional’.
A judge, or marker, doesn’t care what you believe. It’s what you can back up with argument and proof that matters.
• ‘The Act is unconstitutional because, increasingly, governments around the world are using such anti-terror legislation to abuse rights’.
What specific facts are you relying on? What formal, reputable sources are you citing? (Just because you say so doesn’t make it so.)
• ‘The Act is unconstitutional because it grants the Commonwealth wide discretion to abuse rights against arbitrary imprisonment. In 2008, the Human Rights Ombudsman reported that…’
5. Write Clearly and Simply.
• You’ll only get your point across (or get a decent mark for it) if it’s clear.
• Don’t bog your writing down.
• Avoid unnecessary big words.
• Avoid run-on sentences (eg, over 2.5 lines long).
• Give your reader ‘Signposts’: tell her where you are and where you will be going in your argument.
• Define all your key terms.
• Never, ever be sloppy. This is the principal cause of bad marks. The real price of poor expression and sloppy writing is always higher than it seems, because if we cannot make out your point, we cannot give it a decent mark. Please write clearly using proper punctuation and grammar.
• Proof-reading is an absolute requirement.