Concise Guide to Writing Essays


Strive to develop an organized, well thought-out and well-researched direct response to the question you have chosen. Ensure you are answering the question. The essay should demonstrate a good understanding of the events and issues you are examining and a sound grasp of the concepts and theories that help to explain it. There is no single ‘correct’ answer to any question; you are free to respond in any way that answers the question as long as you can back your position up with evidence and a reasonable argument.

Never submit the first draft of your essay. Give yourself enough time to re-read the paper and re- draft it before submitting it to be marked.


Ensure that the essay has an introduction, main body, and conclusion.

The introduction introduces the topic. It should indicate the question to be discussed and include a thesis statement that indicates the argument that the essay will present in responding to the question. It also should indicate the main points that the paper will make and define any key terms.

The main body of the essay focuses on developing the argument, which includes providing evidence that supports the argument.
The conclusion summarizes the main points of the essay and sets out the author’s overall comments on the topic. Do not introduce new ideas or arguments in this section of the paper.


It is crucial to focus on responding directly to the question. Provide just enough background to set the stage for this.

It is not enough to assert that something is so; the essay needs to present a logical, coherent argument that is well supported by evidence. Substantiate the claims you make by drawing on the academic literature and by citing relevant trends and developments, but do not rely on other writers to make your argument for you. In drawing on the literature, it is important that you do not merely set out their arguments; evaluate them to see if they make sense or overlook important information. Addressing any arguments that counter the argument you are making strengthens your case.

It is important to focus on analysing the issue rather than on presenting normative assessments of what should be done or whether a policy or activity is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

Leave out any material – however interesting it may be – that does not directly relate to your argument.

Sources and Referencing

Draw on a range of sources in supporting your argument. Use primary sources such as official documents if these are available. Consult sources such as academic books and journals for specialist information; avoid general dictionaries, encyclopedias and Wikipedia. The most recent scholarship on any topic will be found in articles published in academic journals.

You must properly reference all of the material you draw on, including books, journal articles, and readers. Proper referencing involves providing page numbers, where appropriate. You may use whatever style of referencing you prefer, including footnotes, endnotes, or in-text referencing. You also must provide a complete and accurate bibliography of all sources used.


Grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization are important. It detracts from your argument if it is not clear what you are trying to say. Explain abbreviations and acronyms the first time you use them.

Getting Help

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2015-10-02T16:25:20+00:00 Academic Skills|