What is an Essay?
One of the most common written assignments you will be asked to prepare at university is an essay.
An academic essay is a document or text written in order to:
1. Analyze a topic closely
2. Develop a point of view in relation to that topic through research and thought
3. Persuade your reader that the point of view you have developed is well supported by the ideas and
information you present
Essays have three main parts or stages:
The initial statement of the point of view that you have developed in response to the topic
(sometimes called the thesis statement). This part of the essay is the introduction.
The argument or arguments which are presented to support this point of view. This part is the body of the essay.
The summary of the arguments and the restatement of the overall point of view that has been
developed. This part of the essay is the conclusion.
Writing the Essay
When preparing an essay you undertake a number of different activities:
1. Choosing a question
2. Analyzing the question
3. Making an initial plan
4. Locating resources
5. Reading and noting
6. Writing the first draft
7. Revising and redrafting.
You may find that you move backwards and forwards among these activities. For example, when you are writing your first draft you may constantly refer back to your analysis of the question to make sure you are answering the question. Sometimes as you read you discover ideas that you hadn’t thought of or come across previously, and so you may need to locate further resources.
Choosing a question
If you have a choice of essay questions you might consider the following factors when deciding which essay to do:
1. Which topics interest you most?
2. Which topics have good resource materials available?
3. Which topics are most relevant to you personally or professionally?
4. Which topics might be easiest for you to write about?
Analyzing the question
Analyzing the question enables...