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Lecturer's expectations

Karen Green, Lecturer

In this section, your lecturer - Karen Green - sets out what she expects from student assignments on this topic.

Essay topic:

It is always and everywhere wrong to kill an innocent human being. A human foetus is an innocent human being. So it is always and everywhere wrong to kill a human foetus. Discuss.

What's required?

This topic presents an argument made up of two premises and a conclusion

P1. It is always and everywhere wrong to kill an innocent human being

P2. A human foetus is an innocent human being

C So it is always and everywhere wrong to kill a human foetus

The ' Discuss' part of the question means that students need to assess whether the argument is a reasonable one. This would involve considering:

  1. whether each of the premises can be held to be true, and
  2. whether the conclusion follows on from the premises

If you were writing this essay, you would need to indicate clearly whether you find the argument acceptable, giving reasons based on your analysis of i) and ii).

How to go about writing the essay

Students should first think about their own provisional response to the topic - i.e. Is the argument acceptable? Why? Why not?

Next they would need to identify the relevant readings for this essay - from the course notes and lectures. In this case, it would be Peter Singer's Practical Ethics already discussed in classes, along with the other prescribed material on abortion in the course notes - and not necessarily anything else.

Students would need to spend a fair amount of time carefully reading and taking notes on this material (up to 10 hours). Some material would need to be read more than once. Once the reading was done, the essay should take about five hours - so the reading and thinking component would take longer than the writing. The essay should however, be put aside and rewritten, which would take a few more hours.

A Credit/Pass essay would need to give a solid account of Singer's text - which provides an objection to the argument. A High Distinction essay would need to take the argument a bit further. For instance it could develop an objection to Singer's argument. Or it could attempt to patch up the argument in the light of Singer's objections.

General essay marking criteria

Essay marking quiz
1 2 3 4 5
  • legibility and layout
  • spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • bibliography and citation
  • comprehension and exposition
  • clarity
  • logical development
  • originality
word outputDownload a printable version of this page (.doc)
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