Students will write an essay, 500-750 words in length, on a topic selected from the list below. The purpose of the project is to give students an opportunity to discuss a key political science concept, and to show a basic understanding of academic research and reporting skills. The project consists of producing a 500-750 word essay on one of the provided topics (see below), as well as a works cited page for sources containing information used in the essay. The assignment is to be formatted according to the Modern Language Association (ML) style. Students should research this style in order to properly format the assignment; papers not formatted properly will not receive a passing grade.

Students should use Courier or New Courier 12 point as the paper’s font, double space the text, and create one inch margins on all four sides of the page. In addition, the assignment should be formatted according to ML style for papers with no title page.

Please choose from one of the following topics for your writing assignment:

  1. In Chapter 2, “The Constitutional Setting,” the authors describe the various state constitutions of Texas, with particular attention to the current state constitution. Complete the following:
    • Describe the features of the current Texas constitution.
    • Explain the influences that were critical in the structure and powers of the government created in the final document.
    • Identify similarities and differences between the Texas Constitution and the U.S. constitution.
    • Illustrate your points with specific examples from each of the legislative, executive, and judicial articles.
  2. In Chapter 2, “The Constitutional Setting,” the authors describe the amendment process for the Texas Constitution. Complete the following:
    • Describe the rules for amending the Texas constitution.
    • Discuss the attempts at constitutional reform during the 1970’s.
    • Explain why constitutional reform was attempted and why it ultimately failed.
    • Do you believe it is better to have a detailed constitution that requires frequent amendment as specific situations arise, or a constitution that has broad language providing government with flexibility to handle a diverse set of situations as they arise?
  3. In Chapter 11, “Local Government,” The authors explain the purposes and structures of local governments within the state of Texas. Complete the following:
    • Identify the structure and role of local governments within the state of Texas.
    • Explain the purpose and function of each type of local government.
    • Some states have consolidated the county and city functions into a single governmental entity.
    • Do you believe Texas would be better served by maintaining its several, distinct, types of local government, or by consolidating them into broader units of government that would handle the various functions within a single governmental entity?

Submission Instructions:

  • Complete your assignment using word-processing software such as MS Word, Open Office (download free software at, or other per course requirements.
  • Save your file as an .rt file to ensure that it can be opened at any computer.
  • Submit your assignment by selecting the writing assignment link in lesson 1, browsing to, and attaching your saved file from your desktop. Make sure to select SUBMIT. You may view your posting both on this page and under My Grades.