The second key term that you will need to address in almost any piece of coursework is, what we call, the ‘Comparative Discussion’.

Question

Sounds complicated. What is a ‘Comparative Discussion’?

Answer

This is actually pretty simple. We at The Coursework Club use ‘Comparative Discussion’ to refer to those key terms in a question that direct you to create a discussion around the central topic. These discussions usually involve the following:

  • similarities/differences between issues, events, individuals;
  • changes/continuities across periods of time;
  • relative importance/significance of issues, events, individuals.

01 Intro 02.3 01


Example 1

Examples of questions with ‘Comparative Discussion’ terms (A mixture of typical IB, AQA, Edexcel, OCR and CIE style questions):

...to what extent was there continuity in the way that successive Russian governments dealt with opposition?

...how similar was the rule of Hitler to that of Mussolini?

...to what degree did government treatment of black people change in South Africa between 1899 and 1999?

How far would you agree that the most significant cause of Arab Nationalism was...

Theodore Roosevelt’s contribution to US progressivism carries greater significance than other presidents in the period 1901-1920. How far would you agree with this statement?

Compare and contrast the circumstances that gave rise to two communist regimes in Latin America

The following are further examples of questions with the comparative discussion highlighted (A mixture of typical IB, AQA, Edexcel, OCR and CIE styles):

IB Style

Compare and contrast the circumstances that gave rise to any two communist regimes in Latin America

AQA Style

In the context of 1861-1961 and with specific reference to Tsar Nicholas II, to what extent was there continuity in the way that successive Russian governments dealt with opposition?

Edexcel Style

How far do you agree with the view that the most significant impact of the Second World War during the years 1941-45 was on the American economy?

CIE Style

"If England experienced a revolution in the 17th Century - this was it". How far would you agree with historian Barry Coward's assessment of the significant of the execution of Charles I?

OCR Style

To what extent was dissatisfaction with the Kuomintang the main reason for the growth in support for communism in China during the 1930s?

Top Tip 1

Where there is a Comparative Discussion, you MUST agree and disagree in your answer - starting in your introduction - thus:

...was an important impact of the war, but there were other consequences of equal if not greater significance...

OR

Relatively speaking, the Second World War's greatest impact was on the American economy because…, however militarily speaking, it actually helped build the US into the world's first global superpower and, consequently, this impact should not be overlooked...

OR

Clearly there was a degree of continuity in the way successive Russian governments dealt with opposition, particularly in relation to…, however, what is also clear is that, despite certain similarities, there are significant divergences from government to government, primarily because of...

OR

The growth in support for the communists in China was certainly, to a significant degree, as a result of a popular backlash against the Kuomintang, this is evidenced by…. However, to claim that this was the only, or even the main cause of the growth in support, would do a disservice to the very sophisticated tactics employed by the Chinese Communist Party that helped it gain the upper hand over the nationalist KMT on the battlefield, as well as in the arena of Chinese public opinion...


N.B. (nota bene - note well - remember, this is important)
These 'Comparative Discussions' are always linked to the 'Judgement Demand'. As a result, you will usually address the 'Comparative Discussion' at the same time as you address the 'Judgement Demand'. See below

Question

What now?

Answer

Now that you have identified the 'Comparative Discussion' within the question, it is time for you to address it in your introduction.

Question

How do you do that?

Answer

Easy. Use the 'Comparative Discussion' term given in the question and then highlight some of the elements of that discussion. Then establish where you stand in the discussion.

01 Intro 02.3 02-CAPTION

You, in the middle of the discussion, trying to sort out all of the competing sides of the argument.

Example 2

The Question (Edexcel Style):

The most significant outcome of the Second World War was the unprecedented growth in the American economy. How far would you agree with this assessment of the impact of World War Two on the United States?

The Introduction: (note: this is just a section of the larger introduction)

e.g.

Explicitly (Simply and obviously)

There were a great number of consequences of the Second World War for the United States. One significant consequence was the unprecedented growth in the American Economy - proof of the importance of which can be seen by even the briefest examination of the rapidly rising employment and GDP figures the US enjoyed from 1939-45. However, in order to determine whether or not this was the most significant result of the Second World War, requires an investigation into a number of other outcomes of the war on the US, for example, the unparalleled development of America as the per-eminent military power on the planet...

N.B.
Those Hawkeyes among you (named after a character created by James Fennimore Cooper) will notice that you have tackled both the 'Comparative Discussion' and the 'Judgement Demand' key term, simultaneously. See...

There were a great number of consequences of the Second World War for the United States. One significant consequence was the unprecedented growth in the American Economy - proof of the importance of which can be seen by even the briefest examination of the rapidly rising employment and GDP figures the US enjoyed from 1939-45. However, in order to determine whether or not this was the most significant result of the Second World War, requires an investigation into a number of other outcomes of the war on the US, for example, the unparalleled development of America as the per-eminent military power on the planet...

Implicitly (Sophisticated and embedded)

Relatively speaking, the Second World War's greatest impact may well have been on the American economy because, after the desolation wrought by the Great Depression, the war was able to fill factory order books, restore the workforce to near full employment, and raise the GDP to unprecedented levels. However, militarily speaking, the war actually helped build the US into the world's first global superpower and, consequently, this impact may well be considered by some historians as greater in its significance than other outcomes of the war because... In addition, certain other developments, such as the 'Special Relationship' between the UK and the US, as well as the ... should not be overlooked by any investigation relating to the important effects of the war.

Now, see how this is actually introducing the Comparative Discussion whilst also addressing the Judgment Demand, below:

Relatively speaking, the Second World War's greatest impact may well have been on the American economy because, after the desolation wrought by the Great Depression, the war was able to fill factory order books, restore the workforce to near full employment, and raise the GDP to unprecedented levels. However, militarily speaking, the war actually helped build the US into the world's first global superpower and, consequently, this impact may well be considered by some historians as greater in its significance than other outcomes of the war because... In addition, certain other developments, such as the 'Special Relationship' between the UK and the US, as well as the ... should not be overlooked by any investigation relating to the important effects of the war.

Top Tip 2

To make your intro (and essay) less intimidating, simply view what you have to compare as a list.

Question

What do you mean by this?

Answer

Whether you are comparing the significance of issues, main causes of events, main consequences of events, similarities or differences of things, you can simply create a list to help you through your comparison.

The Question

The most significant outcome of the Second World War on the US was the unprecedented growth in the American economy...

The key issues of this question can be turned into a list like this:

LIST OF OUTCOMES:

  1. Growth of the US economy.
  2. Development of the US into the world's first military superpower.
  3. Development of the 'Special Relationship'.
  4. The beginning of the Cold War.

Then all you have to do (in your main body) is proceed to compare the relative significance of each one and ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Is this issue significant?
  2. Why is it significant?
  3. Is it more significant than the others?
  4. If it is, why?
  5. If it is not, why not?
  6. Which of these issues is the MOST significant and why?
  7. Are all of these issues significant, but for different reasons? (A clever way of answering the question, without committing to one event over another)

What you have learned

This section has introduced you to the significance of another type of key term that you are bound to be asked to address in your coursework: the 'Comparative Discussion'. By way of a variety of example coursework titles, from a range of exam boards, you have learned how to identify the important discussion embedded in your coursework title. More importantly, you have learned how to incorporate this type of key term into your introduction - the simple (explicit) way, and the more challenging (implicit) way. Now apply these skills to your work.

The next section - Key Terms Number 3 - will take you through the skills related to 'Hot Topics'. Read on.

logo The Coursework Club

© 2020 The Coursework Club. All Rights Reserved. /// Web solution by Chinthaka Senanayake

128-facebook

Check us out on Facebook

or

Remember Me


Forgot your password?
   
Forgot your username?
   
Join the Club