Writing an essay university guide

Introductions and conclusions are not just the bits tagged on to the ends of your essay. They form a conceptual framework which the reader will need to understand your arguments. Always keep your reader in mind when writing the beginning and ending to your essay:. The best introductions and conclusions tell the reader exactly what they need to know to understand the main body of the essay.


An introduction gives your reader a way in to your essay. It is like consulting the map before starting on a journey; it situates the journey in the surrounding landscape, and it identifies the main route. If you want to narrow down a very open-ended question, tell your reader that you are doing this in your introduction. Explain briefly that you are aware of the many issues raised by the question, but that you are only going to focus on one or two in detail…and why you have chosen these particular aspects.

Question: "To what extent do you agree that regional inequalities in the UK are persistent and widening? Why this is important: Because some regions in the UK are more prosperous and better resourced than others — Why is this?

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What causes the inequalities between regions? How I am going to answer it: Have to narrow down "regional" and also "inequalities" — so will compare the unemployment rates, average salaries, and job opportunities in Oxfordshire and Lancashire as a case study. Think about what your reader knows now that they didn't know at the beginning.

Essay Writing - University College Birmingham

If your essay question asks you to come to a judgement, for example "To what extent…" or "How far do you agree…", this is the place to clearly outline your reasoned judgement. It doesn't have to be a straight agreement or disagreement, but it is better to have a well reasoned side to your argument, instead of trying to combine every viewpoint into a muddled whole. It is good practice not to introduce any new information in a conclusion, as the main task here is to close the framework of your discussion by referring back to the questions opened up in your introduction. However it is sometimes appropriate to look forwards and speculate about future developments or trends.

In many disciplines the speculative paragraph comes just before the conclusion.

Essay writing

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a clear picture of your main argument, and also leave them feeling positive about your ideas. For example, avoid finishing with, "If I had more time, I would also have covered…". You may wish to raise some limitations in the conclusion, but do this in the middle of the concluding paragraph, and then end on a strong, positive sentence, such as "It has clearly been shown that…". You may believe that it leaves the reader thinking deeply about your argument.

However, it actually leaves the reader unsatisfied, as they expect you to come up with an answer to the question that you have raised. In the main body of your essay, you will be developing the ideas and arguments you have outlined in your introduction. You need to integrate your own ideas with evidence from your reading and other research, and critical analysis. It's better to discuss fewer things in more depth. Organise your writing in three or four groups of related arguments to keep your overall argument coherent and under control.

Each paragraph should contain a controlling idea, or topic sentence which links and anticipates. Support sentences will expand on the idea in this sentence, by giving examples or re-emphasising the point in some way, so that the reader grasps the main point of the paragraph. Write or word process your rough copy. This can be done in sections or written up in its entirety from the organised notes. Each person has their own preference.

One useful method is the half-page system which leaves space for annotation and possible alteration to the sequencing of points. The introduction and conclusion should be written after the main body paragraphs have been written and organised. This ensures that what the essay says is supported at either end.

Structuring your essay

An introduction should outline the basis of your essay, giving the reader an indication of what you will be writing about or discussing. Ford provided that you then proceed to justify the statement. Henry Ford did not, which is why he is given credibility as an expert on cars, not history. For a 1,word essay an introduction of approximately words would be appropriate. A conclusion should pull an essay together. A positive finish is also a good idea. You may summarise your arguments in the concluding paragraph, drawing together the threads of an argument but also reminding the reader that your essay hopefully has proved the points you set out to make.

A final paragraph for a 1,word essay would be words in length. Academic writing must be objective in its approach; that is, students are not simply asked for opinions subjective , but to analyse, judge and propose, using evidence.

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  6. For this reason, the use of the personal pronouns I, we, you… should be avoided. You may, however, give supported judgements which use references, including examples of data to offer perceptive comment. Essays should be presented word processed as directed on A4 paper.

    How to write a good essay: Paraphrasing the question

    You should use clear, simple English. Slang and jargon should not be used and long, rambling sentences should be avoided. Your grammar sentence structure, use of vocabulary… should be considered carefully, as should punctuation. Together with research and planning, these areas make an impression on the reader. Appendices are not usually necessary for an essay. However, you should make your sources clear at the end of the essay. Shorter, succinct quotations relating to a particular point can be very effective.

    Most work is now required to be submitted anonymously. Please follow any specific guidelines given in your assignment brief. The following instructions give you the University standard for presenting your written work for assessment: it is strongly recommended you follow these instructions as you are assessed on presentation in written assignments.

    Should a lecturing team require you to present your work in any format and style other than these instructions, they will directly inform you of this. These instructions aim to ensure that all work you submit will be presented in a professional and consistent manner. Unless you are specifically instructed otherwise, all submitted work should be word-processed. Where necessary, some diagrams may have to be drawn by hand, but the majority of work should be produced using appropriate software.

    Think very carefully before adding decorative features like WordArt, page borders or Clip Art to any piece of academic work.



    Such additions are unlikely to improve the work, and often serve only as a distraction. Therefore, generally, these are best avoided. The use of colour is permissible, and may be particularly useful if you are presenting charts or diagrams. However, monochrome printing should normally be adequate for any work you are required to present. Use Times New Roman size 12 for general text.

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    5. Use Arial size 14 for main headings and Arial size 12 for sub-headings. Headings and sub-headings should be in Arial font. Does the application of the theory reveal any particular shortcomings, or strengths? It is important to show that you understand both or all core theories in great depth, both on a theoretical and applied level. In essence, the wording of the essay question will tell you how the essay should be written.