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HISTORY 4RP3 Independent Research Project

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Tracy McDonald

Email: tmcdon@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 627

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24148


Office Hours: Wednesdays 5:30-6:30 (or by appointment)

Course Objectives:

The course combines four areas of historical training: narrative; historiography; interpretation and approach; the use and analysis of primary sources, and writing.

The unifying thematic focus is the question of everyday life in the Soviet Gulag.


This course will be research intensive and focus on a research paper based in primary sources in English on a topic designed by the student.


The senior seminar is an intensive presentation, research and discussion class that allows the student to consider the study of history at an advanced level. The ultimate aim of the course is for the student to produce high-level, written, historical work as well as engage in high-level discussion and analysis. Students will work on identifying and shaping an argument, review, refining arguments, writing, and revising.


Students are required to complete all assigned readings and to actively participate in discussion.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Student has compiled an extensive bibliography for her project.

Method of Assessment:

Term Work and Percentage Value of Final Grade


Task                                                                            Value              Due

Participation                                                                35%                 ongoing

Paper Proposal and Bibliography                                20%                 Wed.

Draft Due        (15-20 pages)                                                              Wed. 1 Nov 2017

Final Paper (25-40 pages no more than 40)                45%                 6 December 2017


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Penalty

There is a late penalty of 3% per day for all late assignments

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Course Outline


We will meet every other week beginning on Wednesday 13 September at 2 p.m


Meetings will:

    • Answer any questions regarding the material collected and read for that week
    • Identify possible avenues of inquiry/how the readings contribute to the project
    • Outline readings and responsibilities for the next week


Week 2 – Wednesday 13 September


-Review of submitted bibliography and discussion of research theme and where to begin reading.


Week 4 – Wednesday 27 September


-Narrowing down of bibliography to relevant reading for the chosen topic. Discussion of readings/research done.


Week 5 – Proposal due Wednesday 4 October


Week 6 – Wednesday 11 October


-Discussion of paper thesis and direction. Discussion of readings/reseach done.


Week 8 – Wednesday 25 October


-Discussion of the first draft which is due Wednesday 1 November


Week 9 – Wednesday 1 November – First Draft Due


Week 10 – Wednesday 8 November


Discussion/Feedback on First Draft – how to move forward.


Week 12 – Wednesday 22 November


Discussion of preparation of final draft and relevant readings


Week 13 – Final Paper Due 6 December