Skip to Main Content

GU-Q: HIST 308 - Empires

Prospectus Examples

What is the Prospectus?

    The prospectus is written assignment, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 pages long, introducing the historical question that you will attempt to answer in your final paper.

    A prospectus is a preliminary statement for a paper. It has two purposes - first, to get you to think about your paper well before it is due, and second, to let your professor see what you have in mind so he can help you develop the question you want to ask, and direct you to resources.

* Helpful Tip: Focus on the Problematic -- The problematic addresses the "problem" that you are confronting, including a few questions that you will ask in an attempt to solve the problem.


The prospectus is important for three reasons:

  1. It helps you to pose a single focused, and answerable, historical question.
  2. It allows you and your professor to assess if the research question is answerable within the approximately 20 page limit of the paper.
  3. It allows you and your professor to review the historical question and answer the following questions:
  • What kind of sources are needed and/or available?
  • Which of the themes of Empire does the historical question address?
  • What potential problems will there be to doing research on your historical question?
Example of prospectus in development:

    In the late 19th and early 20th century, Germany had emerged as a major European power. The nation, unified since 1871, aspired to play a more prominent role as a global power and pursued an attempt to obtain overseas colonies and expand what was known as the German Empire. Germany attempted to establish colonies in both Asia and more prominently in Africa. What were the political motivations for the German government to engage in the pursuit of building an empire?

    This historical question is important to answer in order to understand the rationale of rising powers to look beyond their regional boarders to extend their influence and power. The German Empire of the early 20th Century was a power on the rise and rivaling both Britain and France for predominance in Europe. The issues involved in this question include whether or not it's necessary for rising powers to pursue empire building as a phase of their national development, what are the internal political pressures that rising powers face to develop an empire, and does the development of an empire ultimately help or hinder rising powers from their overall goals of expanding their influence?

    This historical question will require research into the internal political discussions within Germany during the late 19th and early 20th century concerning the pursuit of overseas colonies and the development of a global empire. It is necessary to find primary and secondary documents in order understand what the contemporary political figures in Germany thought they would gain from a global empire and at what cost.