Writing in Political Science

Upon entering the Political Science Program, we expect that you will be able to accomplish certain tasks in writing, including the following: formulate thesis statements; write using a logical structure, including introductory and concluding paragraphs where appropriate; and use correct grammar, syntax, word choice, spelling and sentence structure. We also anticipate that you will already know how to create an outline for written work, cite properly to avoid plagiarism, and know how to cite textual as well as electronic source material.

While in the program, your work will be improved if you know how to revise drafts of written work to produce final assignments.

By the time you graduate, your classroom experiences should have prepared you to do the following:

  • formulate an argument and write persuasively in defending your thesis.
  • demonstrate critical thinking by avoiding fallacies and applying logic.
  • marshal evidence to support conclusions and properly cite sources.
  • produce a capstone paper that demonstrates understanding of the political science research process – including literature review, hypothesis, methods, analysis, results and conclusions.
  • produce legal briefs, memoranda, position papers and other professional writing.

Types of Writing Assignments

As a student in the Political Science Program, you will find the following kinds of writing are expected:

  • Essays
  • Legal Briefs
  • Memorandum/Policy Briefs/Position Papers
  • Research Papers
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Reaction/Reflection Papers
  • Journals
  • Literature Reviews
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Papers Quick Writes
  • Term Paper/Research Papers
  • Capstones


No standard format is used in political science. APA and Chicago appear to be the most common among our instructor’s choices.


If you need additional help with writing, we urge you to talk with your professor to find out more about the paper you are writing and the criteria used to grade it. We also encourage you to visit the writing center often for ongoing support.