The definitional parameters you have outlined in the introduction are on the whole quite sound. However, you do need to restructure in a way that reflects your underlying assumptions on the subject matter. Specifically, in order to attain the highest level marks it is essential that you at least briefly outline some form of thesis. By this I mean putting forward an argument, or set of arguments, that you aim to validate throughout the course of the essay. Although personal assumptions are not as vital in the study of law as they are in other academic disciplines, this particular subject holds significant possibilities for proposing a detailed thesis. However, it is important to remember that if you do go down this road that you are able to support your assertions with hard academic evidence.
In terms of content, a very brief outline of the Treaty of Westphalia 1648 would be useful as this represents the beginning of the assent of the nation state as the primary form of political organisation.
Moreover, you need to dedicate more time in the introduction outlining the form and structure that the essay will take. Although at the moment all the important points are covered, for me you fail to provide a clear structural framework on which the reader can prepare for what follows. Much of this has to do with the style you have adopted and therefore should be quite easy to quickly change.
The right to self determination under international law
Once again, the manner in which definitions are offered is very good. You provide a detailed set of parameters and also show the problems that occur with defining self determination. However, it may be beneficial to spend more time highlighting the difficulties that emerge with the self determination concept and make greater use of examples to back this up.
I think you could make the section flow better by integrating the points in a more effective way. At the moment it does seem to stop and start from one point of discussion to another. This should not really happen given that the essential nature of the subject matter is the same throughout.
However, in terms of content all the major issues are discussed. Indeed, throughout the piece it is clear that significant levels of research have been undertaken. Therefore it would be a pity if you were to lose marks because of simple things like lacking flow. Again, I think this is something you can alter quite quickly.
Nature and scope of statehood
A good outline of the main topics is once again offered. You also provide a detailed and succinct examination of how state sovereignty is at odds with concepts of self determination and how the structure of international law and relations is weighted in favour of states (however you don’t need to keep repeating this last point which you do a number of times).
Moreover, you could dedicate further time to discussing why the United Nations framework favours states over peoples, and the manner in which the permanent Security Council set up propagates this situation.
Furthermore, you only briefly provide examples and fail to go into detail. As such, I would suggest that one of the examples of “Katangese Peoples Congress v Zaire, and Tatarstan and Chechnya” (bottom of page 6) is expanded upon. This a sure way of increasing marks (particularly if it is done so in conjunction with an argument or thesis as I suggested above). If you find that you are running out of word space then maybe the expansion of an example could be provided as a footnote, although I would suggest that you place it in the main text.
The way you use quotes is a little problematic. The purpose of a quote is to support an assertion that you have already made in the text of the essay. Indeed, on the whole you do this, however some quotes are of a substantial length. If you are going to keep your quotes as they are, ensure that particularly long quotations are clearly separated from the main text, i.e. on the beginning of a separate line. However, I would suggest that you scale down the size of the quotations you use (not the number).
Firstly, find a different word to use instead of continually using ‘principle’. You use it far too much in the first few lines. (an alternative could be ‘ethos’, ‘set of beliefs’, ‘values’). Also, you need to break down sentence three of the conclusion; it’s far too long: as a very general rule, do not go on for more than two lines without a full stop.
Nonetheless, you generally provide a good conclusion with an effective summing up of the primary areas of discussion on the topic. However, had you adopted a concurrent thesis throughout the essay then this is the point where you could have reasserted you opinions and arguments. Once again, a congruently running thesis or basic argument that is supported by academic evidence is the best way of ensuring the higher level marks (although naturally it is vital to include arguments that counter your own).
Now let us turn to referencing. The number of footnotes you have indicates to the reader the amount of research you have undertaken. Therefore, this will certainly gain you marks. However, too much referencing can also highlight a lack of personal argument and opinion in an essay. Indeed, this is my main criticism of your piece.
Furthermore, every single footnote used as a reference needs to be placed in the bibliography so it is vital you do this (including all the UN references etc).
In terms of layout, the standard method for footnotes at the bottom of the page is this;
Henry Pelling, Winston Churchill (London: Macmillan Press, 1974), 631.
Max Schoenfeld, “Winston Churchill as War Manager: The Battle of the Atlantic” Military Affairs 52 (3) 1988, 122-127.
Then in the bibliography they should look like this;
Pelling, Henry. Winston Churchill, 2nd edition. London: Macmillan, 1999.
Schoenfeld, Max. “Winston Churchill as War Manager: The Battle of the Atlantic” Military Affairs 52 (3) 1988, 122-127.
Ultimately, you have written a good essay here. If I were to mark it as it is at the moment I would place it somewhere in the low 2:1 region, around 62/63.
However, if you make the changes suggested above then this can certainly be brought up to 66/67.
If you are aiming for higher than this you will probably need to spend quite a lot of time altering what you have done. In particular, a concurrently running argument is essential in achieve 1st standard marks.
Nonetheless, it’s still a fine effort.