In most history related courses, instructors often assign the students the task of developing a solid and independent argument on a certain subject, which can also be referred to as a history thesis. Such argument should not merely resemble the personal opinion of the student but should be based on his/her findings from the conducted research. A history thesis is an important part of the course that teaches the student to form and express a strong opinion on an important historical matter, which is not biased but based on scientific evidence.
First of all, it would be noteworthy to mention what is the difference between an introduction to a topic and a thesis. An introduction is an opening paragraph to speech, paper, or essay. It contains a short summary of the content that is about to follow, as well as introduces the reader to the discussed topic with background information. While a thesis is the closing part of the introduction, it cannot be described as a summary. A thesis resembles a well-defined argument that aims to prove the relevance and importance of the author’s point.
Instructors often assign the task of writing a short draft, such as a proposal paper, an introduction, abstract, and/or a thesis, as a part of the preparation for the student’s course project. One of such assignments, a history thesis, is designed to test the student’s knowledge in the discussed events and time periods, as well as help to acquire the skill of independent thinking. It is important that the student is capable of not only forming his/her own opinion on a historical event but also expressing it in the form of a valid argument that is backed by facts.
Writing the Thesis
What makes a history thesis different from a simple thesis or argument is the fact that it should not be merely a bold statement on the topic but rather an attempt to prove the author’s argument and persuade the reader in its credibility. Before forming the actual history thesis, it would be reasonable for the author to consider the following questions:
- What were the implications of the discussed historical event;
- How important were the event and its implications and why;
- Why do you believe that the event should be studied from your point of view;
- What makes it relevant today;
By answering these questions the author should be able to organize his/her thoughts in an efficient way that will assist him/her in developing a persuasive argument. Unlike a simple thesis statement, a history argument does not necessarily have to be short. It has to not only provide a persuasive argument but also back it up with reason and evidence. The most important and difficult part of forming such an argument lies in the necessity to retain scientific objectivity. While the argument should resemble the author’s opinion on the matter, this opinion should not be based on mere superficial impression but actually be backed up by a sufficient amount of historical evidence and scientific facts.