Leaders, Nations and War

Before you get started, please read our Welcome Letter!

I. Course Info

II. Student Writing Assignment

III. Course Calendar

IV. Feedback

Course Information

The interaction between state structures and the international system, with a focus on the rise and development of European nations. Topics include war and its effects on national political institutions, nationalism, and state formation; war and national revolution; imperialism and decolonization; and economic dependency and national autonomy.

Student Writing Assignment

Here is information about the kind of writing students will be doing in this course and the expected context for that writing. This should help both students and their readers understand the aims of this particular writing task.

Context for student writing assignment

What are students writing? Journal article
For whom? Experts working in fields such as political science, international relations, or the U.S. government in a foreign affairs area; or professionally invested non-experts such as journalists and diplomats.
Where would such writing typically be found? In a scholarly or professional periodical such as International Security, International Organization, or World Politics; or in a journal for professionals outside political science such as Foreign Policy.
Why would someone usually read it? Readers who are interested in understanding how the risks of war might be affected by characteristics of individual leaders, or the political institutions in which leaders operate, or the inter-state system, would be interested in reading the papers, as would readers who might be interested in learning how war affects, in turn, leaders, national institutions, and perhaps even the inter-state system itself.


Course Calendar

Sept 21: Student-reader matches are announced.

By Sept 25: Students and readers schedule their Introductory Meeting.

By Oct 1: Introductory Meeting completed.

By Nov 9: Student sends rough but coherent draft to reader; reader gives feedback ASAP but within one week.  (Please see note on Feedback  below.)

By Dec 7 : Students and readers to meet (via webcam, skype, phone…) to discuss revisions and feedback.

Dec 10: Final essay due to professor and reader.

Note to Students: The earlier you submit the drafts the more time you will have to make use of reader feedback before turning in your work to your professor! You can also ask whether your reader will be available to give you less formal input at other points in the process, such as when you are considering options or developing particular ideas or wording.

Note to Readers: While you should provide feedback at the stages outlined above, you may also offer to give feedback  or chat informally with the student about the work in progess at other moments during the student’s work on this paper. At some point, feedback should be given either in person, webcam or phone to allow for discussion.


Giving feedback for students in the Reader Project requires special considerations.

READERS:  Here is what we suggest you do before you look at a draft:

  1. Read our guide to giving feedback
  2. Let the student know what form of feedback you plan to use.
  3. If you choose to use our recommended form, think-aloud response, please see How to Do a Think Aloud Response before you begin. An instructional video on how to record this response is also available.
  4. If you choose not to record a Think Aloud Response, email the student and the Project Manager (readerproject@duke.edu) a copy of your written feedback.


  1. Find out whether your reader is planning on doing a “think-aloud response” for you.  If so, please read “How to Use a Think-Aloud Response: A Guide for Students.”
  2. Regardless of the type of feedback your reader provides, it is crucial that you maintain ownership of the document.  This means that you should take the reader’s comments seriously, but that you should decide on (and take responsibility for) all changes to your document.  When in doubt, ask you instructor.

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