HSC History Extension Major Work TimelineBy Olivia Widjaja in HSC
13th of February 2019
As you may know, your History Project requires you to submit an 2500 word essay, along with a synopsis, reference list, annotated bibliography and a log. On top of that, you are required to submit a proposal essay. However, this can become overwhelming since your Major Work is usually due just before Trials, especially with the large amount of research you’ll be conducting throughout the year. So here are my suggestions on how to manage your Major Work.
Disclaimer: Submission dates will depend on your school but this should be able to guide you on how to manage your time.
Term 1: October – December
During this time, you should have a couple of ideas in mind. If not, there are some ideas for your Major Work in the forums. Essentially, your chosen topic should address some or all the key questions:
- Who are the historians?
- What are the purposes of history?
- How has history been constructed, recorded and presented over time?
- Why have approaches to history changed over time?
This can help you establish a direction with your Major Work. Keep these questions in mind as you flesh out your topic and conduct some research. Use the rest of this time to research your topic. This will help you write your proposal essay.
And don’t forget to update your logbook as much as you can.
These holidays are a great time for you to do the bulk of your research. Also, if you’re planning to conduct some primary research methods (i.e. Interviews), now would be the best time to contact them. A lot of the academics will get busy during the year so it would be advisable to contact them early on. During December this time, I got in contact with three academics, one of them never got back to me. By contacting early, I still had two other academics to talk to (both of them lived overseas).
Along with your research, you should start to plan your proposal essay. Your proposal essay should include the following:
- A summary of what area you’re investigating
- Why the topic was chosen
- A series of enquiry questions you will be addressing
- Explain what methodologies you have/will be using
Along with the proposal essay, you are also required to submit a reference list and logbook.
(Note: These were the dot points my teacher wanted us to address in our proposal essay.)
Personally, I found the proposal essay a bit confusing to approach because I wasn’t sure what to expect. But once I started writing, the essay wasn’t as bad as I thought. The way I structured my essay was in the order of the dot points above. Depending on your topic, I also explained my case study in the first paragraph. Since I did my Major Work on history-based video games, I provided a definition of history-based video games and used my case study (Assassin’s Creed) as an example of history-based video games.
Also, don’t be afraid to use first person. I initially found it a bit awkward to use first person in essays, but it becomes difficult to avoid using first person when you’re explaining why you chose your topic.
When it comes to the methodology, this term can be a bit confusing if you take Society & Culture. ‘Methodology’ refers to the type of sources and the places where you’ll be getting sources from. For example, in my proposal essay, I talked about how I will be using facilities from my local library and State Library to access to journal articles and magazine articles. If you’re planning to conduct interviews, mention who you have/will contact and what field they specialise in.
While you’re drafting and writing your proposal essay, don’t forget to include screenshots of your progress!
Term 2: February – March/April
I call Term 2 (technically Term 1 of 2018) ‘Shakespeare’s Lost Years’- he didn’t do much during the two years of his life. Similarly, I didn’t do much in Term 2 since all I focused on was researching as much as I can. After Term 2, my logbook certainly did get heavier because of the large amount of research notes I made. To be honest, there were times I dozed off to sleep in the library because I was reading a lot of journal articles and writing interview transcripts was very time-consuming. Even though it’s tedious to make research notes, it becomes helpful when you’re going through your logbook to find a piece of information for your essay.
Apart from doing a hefty amount of research, formulating an essay plan or a scaffold can help you get a bit organised. It’s a great way to summarise what you information you’ve gathered and a basic thesis to the overall idea. For example, throughout my research, I found myself arguing that history-based video games has significantly impacted the representation of history and how we study history. Because I also spent Term 2 researching, I was able to provide an answer to my enquiry questions. These enquiry questions became useful when I was figuring out the structure of my essay.
But because of half-yearlies, I didn’t spend too much time on my Major Work.
Term 3: April – July
Around this time, you should started to refine your essay question. I knew that I wanted to look at history-based video games and their accuracy. But rather than arguing how these video games can be useful, I decided to do an analysis, hence my question became: An analysis of history-based video games as a tool for historical enquiry. Remember, your essay question doesn’t have to be a ‘to what extent’ question.
You should also started to narrow down my enquiry questions. Out of the five enquiry questions, I focused on three main enquiry questions and made the other two questions as sub-questions since they could fit under the three enquiry questions. Because of the research I did in Term 2, I spent most of Term 3 answering my enquiry questions and providing evidence to support my statements, along with some more research if I found some holes in the information I’ve gathered. By starting off with a basic essay plan, you should be able to gradually flesh it out into a detailed essay plan, which will make the essay-writing component easier. Here’s what my essay plan looked like:
Once you feel comfortable with your essay plan, start writing your synopsis and essay. Give yourself at least two weeks before the due date to start writing. My Major Work was due at the beginning of July, so I started writing around mid-June so I would have room to refine my essay and finish off my log and annotated bibliography.
The days leading up to your due date, you should use the time to make sure your reference list is in alphabetical order and make sure that there aren’t any grammatical errors. And avoid doing the majority of your Major Work during this time. Your Trial exams are coming soon.
Good luck everyone!
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