Ellis - IR550 Foreign Policy Orientation


Dr. Burcu Ellis


IR 550 is the culminating senior class that enables students to showcase their research, writing, presentation and analysis skills in International Relations. The work in this class is accomplished through various stages and requirements to result in a 45-60 page comprehensive research paper. This paper requires you to engage in rigorous research about an international issue and to present a cohesive argument that analytically brings together theory, substance and well-written prose together. This is not easy task to accomplish, as the requirements are numerous and detailed, and the final grade will depend on the quality of writing, the depth of theoretical and issue-oriented research and the quality of the arguments. There will be several presentations associated with this task, as well as many drafts and other materials to be submitted.

To qualify for enrollment in this class, students need to meet the following criteria. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.

1) ALL requirements of the IR major (the 300 level core courses) need to be successfully completed.

2)Students must have met their GWAR requirement (and have successfully passed IR 309) on or after Fall 2010. Students who took 309 before Fall 2010 will need to show that the English requirement is fulfilled.

3) Students are required to fill the bio sheet and sign the plagiarism pledge by September 1st.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the most important part of this course and students will be held to the highest standards. Students are expected to read and abide by the all regulations concerning the Academic Integrity Code. Violations of ethical conduct that relate to academic integrity will be punished. Academic violations include but are not limited to: plagiarism, inappropriate collaboration, dishonesty in examinations and presentations whether in class or take-home, dishonesty in papers, work done for one course and submitted to another, deliberate falsification of data, interference with other students' work, and copyright violations. ANY infringement, big or small, deliberate or accidental, will lead to a failure in that portion of work, possible failure in the course and the taking of appropriate disciplinary action. Plagiarism has resulted in the withdrawal of %25 of IR 550 students over the years, who were then unable to graduate. Basically—DON’T DO IT.

Reading Materials

Laura Roselle and Sharon Spray, Research and Writing in International Relations. Pearson, 2008.


Laura Neack, The New Foreign Policy, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

Wayne Booth, et al. The Craft of Research, 2nd ed. University of Chicago Press, 2003

William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed. 2000 McMillan Publishing

While these books will be covered in class, students are expected to conduct their independent research on their topics including but not limited to the use of books, journal articles, government and non-governmental reports, databases and other on-line sources.


All materials are due on the dates announced and there will be no extensions. It is YOUR responsibility to keep track of those dates and remind yourself of your due dates.

Materials are always due by 1:00 pm, on the due date, either in printed form or as an email attachment. Printed submissions are preferred and you are required to bring a printed copy of any materials you submitted over the email. All correspondence in this class will be conducted through a dedicated email address, sfsuIR550@gmail.com.

DO NOT use the professor’s regular email for the purposes of this class. Materials submitted at the personal email WILL NOT be accepted or read.

This course requires you to complete each major requirement on the due date to qualify for the next assignment. Failure to submit any one of the components on the due dates will lead to an automatic loss of the associated points and withdrawal or failure in the course. Students are NOT allowed to request extensions except in cases of documented emergency, including for drafts and presentations. Computer, printer or transportation problems do not qualify as legitimate excuses to ask for an extension. Students are NOT allowed to make-up presentations if they miss them.

There are absolutely no incomplete grades in this course. If you feel that you will be unable to complete the requirements of IR 550, it is advisable that you contact the professor and withdraw from the course.

Student Learning Support:

Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email dprc@sfsu.edu.

There are TAs (teaching assistants) available for this class to help with certain aspects of research, presentation or paper presentations. TAs have no discretion on procedural matters (i.e. due dates, requirements, etc) and are not involved in grading the materials. Their job is to help you through research bottlenecks or to provide suggestions for presentations—they cannot do the work for you. It is your responsibility to use the resources at the library and the university at large to find the materials you need. The writing center is a good resource for overcoming writing problems. Another great resource is our IR Librarian Mira Foster mira@sfsu.edu, who provides excellent research support to our students.

ELEMENTS OF THE FINAL GRADE (out of a total of 200 points)

Attendance and Participation: 20 points

Attendance is mandatory in this course. Students will lose the ability to qualify for their participation grade with any unexcused absences after their first one. Students with two or more unexcused absences will not receive ANY points even if their class participation has been active.

In case of medical emergencies, students need to provide proof of their situation and contact the professor immediately. Students have to be present on their presentation dates and are not allowed to make them up.

Participation in this class includes active contributions to class discussions, constructive engagement with fellow students’ presentations during question and answer periods and a general display of civility.

Presentations: 50 points

There are two presentations that are due in this class, an opening presentation and a final presentation. Students must be present on their presentation dates. There is no make-up for presentations.

Opening Presentation: (20 points ) A 12-15 minute power point presentation of the CASES or ISSUES that the student is utilizing for the research paper. These presentations begin shortly after the final statement of topics are due, and students are expected to provide a detailed version of their work that familiarizes the class with the complexity of the cases/issues that the student is tackling. Clarity, cohesion, substantive depth, accuracy and presentation quality will influence the grade. Students are allowed to have short notes but CANNOT read their presentations.

Final Presentation: (30 points) 20-25 minute power point presentation that presents the argument of the paper, the theoretical literature that supports it, a detailed analysis of the cases and the conclusions derived from research. Students are NOT allowed to have ANY notes and should deliver the presentation in formal attire. There will be a question and answer period and the responses to the questions from class will influence the final grade as well as the quality, depth and crispness of the presentation. This is a very important presentation so students are expected to conduct a rehearsals with their peers or the TA at least once.

Written Papers:

Please note that each stage is a pre-requisite to qualify for the next—failure to provide any portion will prevent the professor from grading the rest of your work and will result in a withdrawal from, or failure in, the whole class.

All page requirements are in double-spaced, 12 font format with regular margins.

Suggested Topic (Abstract): 5 points

Students will provide the professor with a three page review of the issue they would like to research and the cases they intend to use. There will be a bibliography of 12 sources included with the paper. It is due on: xxxx

Final statement of Topic Paper: 15 points

This is a 6 page-paper that formally discusses the research question, its significance, the methodology you will use to answer that question, the cases and reasons for the selection of those cases. There will be a formal bibliography of 40 sources that accompany the paper, including at least 10 peer-reviewed journal articles and five books.

Final statements are due on: xxxx

First draft: 20 points

This 15-20 page paper should have at least one section of the paper in relatively complete form (literature review, a case, historical background or a section of your choice) and the general outline of the paper should be easily visible from the section headings and the parts available to read. Some of the sections may be in outline form but the student’s grade will depend on the structure of the paper as well as the parts that are already in written prose. The structure of the paper needs to be complete (though subject to change in consequent revisions) to provide a sense of the argument to the reader. There should be bibliographic notes and full citations as much as possible

The first draft is due on: xxxx

Second Draft: 30 points

This is your most important submission. This paper is a 35-45 page full draft that is as complete to the task as possible. It is expected to have all the portions of a full paper, including introduction, theoretical discussion, cases and analysis and conclusion. The students should treat this as a paper that needs to be complete so that revisions can be made on it to bring it to closure for the final paper. A full bibliography and citations should be included with the paper.

The second draft is due on xxxx

Final Paper: 40 points

This is the 45-60 page revised and polished version of your paper that is of excellent quality. The final draft should be edited for grammatical and stylistic purposes, clean of typos, should incorporate the revisions from the professor’s and peers’ readings of the previous drafts, and should be the clearest presentation of the argument supported by a systematic analysis of the evidence. Students should revise the second draft at least twice to get it to the level of expectations. It should include a full formal bibliography and citations. There will be no changes on this paper once it is submitted, so this is your opportunity to show off your best effort.

The Final Paper is due on: xxxx

Peer Reviews: 10 points each

Students are required to write two peer reviews of fellow students’ work. Students will review first and second drafts anonymously and provide constructive feedback on the theory, argument, cases and writing style of the paper. Students are required to provide suggestions as to how to improve the paper. Guidelines on how to conduct peer reviews will be distributed in class.