Religion and Politics in the US

Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.

Term Paper

Term Paper

You will not be given a topic for the term paper but you have the opportunity to choose a topic that is of interest to you. The purpose of the term paper is for you to demonstrate 1) an awareness of the complex relationship between religion, society, and politics throughout the history of the US, 2) your ability to critically analyze media phenomena, 3) your ability to find and evaluate academic sources and apply a chosen theoretical and methodological framework to your material, 4) that you can present your argument as concise as possible, and 5) that you are able to formulate a question/thesis and choose a perspective that is adequate to the length of the paper. You are encouraged to discuss the topic for the term paper with me.

Assessment Criteria

Assessing the term paper, the following aspects will be considered:

  • Originality and Creativity: How original and creative is the chosen term paper topic? Does it merely repeat what has been discussed in class or does it venture beyond class room topics? Is the topic chosen a “safe” topic that is easy to research and write about or does the student take up the challenge of more complex and risky topics?
  • Communication: Structure (does the paper have a proper introduction, conclusion, and logical structure of the argument?), presentation (has the paper been proof-read properly? Is the grammar, syntax, and punctuation correct? Does it have the same/consistent layout throughout?).
  • Thesis statement: Does the paper have a clear and concise thesis statement? Is the thesis statement adequate for the length of paper or is it too broad? Focus on one aspect and discuss it in detail rather than trying to bring too many different aspects into the paper! A thesis statement is a short and concise version of your argument or analysis. For more information, cf.
  • Awareness of issues & content: Does the paper demonstrate how its content and thesis are relevant for the module topic? Is the content accurate? Does the paper demonstrate an awareness of the socio-cultural, historical, and religious context? Does the paper raise questions and point out issues rather than just repeating the sources?
  • Methodological approach: Is the aim and methodological approach of the paper clearly stated?
  • Research/bibliography: Does the paper reflect an adequate amount of research? Which and how many (scholarly) sources are being used? Does the paper simply repeat the sources it uses or critically discuss them? How is the evidence presented? Are sources referenced properly?

Word Count

The final paper should have a word count of 3,000 words. The word count does not include cover page, footnotes, or bibliography. The School of Social Sciences uses the in-text Harvard referencing system. If you want to use another referencing system, please check with me first.

Referencing & Bibliography

You are required to use at least eight academic sources for your term paper – in addition to any media sources you will be drawing on. You will divide your bibliography in two sections: (1) Academic Sources, (2) Other Sources.


Please proof-read your paper properly, not only with regards to typos, but grammar, style, structure, and logical reasoning. Also, language is important and highly symbolic. In your essay, I thus expect you to be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formulations.

Term Paper Self-Review

Together with the term paper, you will submit the Term Paper Self-Review (see separate document). The Term Paper Self-Review consists of a set of questions with the aim to help you reflect on your own work. Do not fill out these questions a minute before the essay deadline. The purpose of these questions is for you to sit down, think about your paper, and then go back and revise your paper. Revising is an important part of the writing/editing process! The Self-Review document can be found here or on eBridge.

Learning Portfolio (reassessment only)

If you have to be reassessed, you will submit a term paper (5,500 words; 70%) and a Learning Portfolio (30%). For the learning portfolio, you will choose three newspaper articles and/or video clips that deal with religion and the upcoming 2016 US elections and write an informed, researched, and critical comment of around 500 words each.


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