21H.132 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

The Ancient World: Rome


Criteria & Guidelines for Papers

Papers receiving high grades will excel in each of the following:

Argument and Structure

Your paper should seek to convince its reader of an argument, a thesis, offered in answer to one of the questions set. The thesis should be clearly stated in the introduction to the paper. The body of the paper should seek to support your thesis by marshalling an abundance of evidence from the ancient sources in a clearly structured and coherent argument. Finally, a conclusion should remind your reader of the thesis you have been supporting and show how that thesis is relevant to a wider historical context. Remember throughout that your paper should be a work of critical analysis.

Knowledge and Understanding

Your paper should display a close knowledge of the ancient source(s) on which your argument rests: knowledge both of the details of relevant passages as well as of the work as a whole. Your ability to subject the sources to critical analysis and to come to your own understanding of their significance should also emerge clearly from your paper.

Quality of Writing

Your argument should be expressed in clear, concise, and readable English. There should be no errors of grammar, syntax, or spelling. Precision and elegance of expression will be rewarded.

Referencing and Bibliography

You must always acknowledge your sources. Please note: Every time you quote directly from a source, or paraphrase a source, or even simply refer to a source, you must provide a full citation.

Since your papers are intended to be written largely on the basis of your reading of the ancient sources, your references will most frequently be to the likes of Livy or Plutarch. It is conventional in the field of ancient history to cite ancient authors either in the text of an essay (so, for example: “Livy here suggests…….(Livy 1.4)” or “Plutarch records that…….(Plut., Sull. 20)”) or in footnotes, like so.1 It is also conventional to refer to ancient sources by their book, chapter, and/or section numbers and not by the page number of your modern translation into English. Since your paper should include an abundance of ancient evidence in support of your argument, there should be many such citations along the way. Should you choose to consult modern sources in addition to ancient, you must be sure to provide full references here also. Such references should be provided in footnotes: for example, a reference to content on page 54 of the Romans textbook would appear like so.2

1 Livy 1.4; Plut., Sull. 20.

2 Boatwright et al. (2012) 54.

Formal Presentation

  • All papers must comply with the following presentational guidelines:
  • Papers must be 1,500 words (approx. 6 pages) in length.
  • Papers must be typed in 12-point font, with double spacing.
  • Standard margins (1.25” left and right, 1” top and bottom) must be used.
  • Your paper must include an original title but need not include a title page.
  • Your paper must include page numbers.

The Writing and Communication Center

The Writing and Communication Center (WCC) offers MIT students free one-on-one professional advice from communication experts (MIT lecturers who have advanced degrees and who are all published writers). The WCC works with undergraduate and graduate students and with post-docs and faculty. The WCC helps you strategize about all types of academic and professional writing, as well as all aspects of oral presentations. No matter what department or discipline you are in, we help you think your way more deeply into your topic, help you see new implications in your data, research and ideas.

Policy on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—the use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense.

It is the policy of the History Faculty that MIT students who plagiarize will be liable to receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Office of Student Conduct. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted and in all oral presentations, including images or texts in other media as well as materials collected online. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available in the Writing and Communication Center, and Academic Integrity at MIT: A Handbook for Students.

Using the Internet

There is much of use to the ancient historian on the internet. There is also a lot of nonsense. Feel free to use the internet (although you should not have much reason to do so for the writing assignments in this subject); but be aware that you are responsible for being critical of the material you encounter there and will be penalized for making use of sites that spout nonsense. As with any source, you must provide full references to material you consult on the internet, including the title and author of the page in question, the date on which it was written or last updated, the URL, and the date on which you accessed the site.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Lecture Notes