Essay Writing Guidelines
When writing any formal written assessment or piece of work there are a few key elements to writing a coherent essay.
- Start your essay by carefully reading the question or title you have been set. Take note of what information you have been given, this is your starting point for research. If you do not fully understand what is being asked of you it is important you ask your tutor as soon as possible.
- Once you understand the question or title it is now time to do some background research upon the subject. Look back through your notes and see if anything appears relevant and look through books, journals and e-resources. Remember to take note of what you are reading, if you want to use it later you will need to be able to fully reference this material.
- Now you have made some notes upon the topic it would be good to gather your thoughts, a mind map is perhaps a good idea at this point. Connect ideas you have by visually drawing connections. Use different colours to examine different areas. This will help you see which areas of your argument are strong and which areas may need more research to be done.
- Now it is time to start writing the essay. The introduction can be daunting but it does need to be solid, avoid re-writing the title of the essay at this point. Attempt to state an argument in your introduction that you are then going to explore within the essay.
- You need to organise your material and find the most coherent way of expressing this, the mind map could help with this. The aim is to build the essay towards a logical conclusion, one that you have been able to substantiate.
- The main body of the essay is where you can express what you think, it is the analysis of text, case studies or vignettes that are important. Often you will need to describe something before you give an analysis of it – but the analysis is the important part that needs to be supported with evidence.
- The conclusion should come quite naturally if the essay has been structured well; all your topics should develop into a strong conclusion that ties your thoughts and ideas together.
- Now it is time to check your essay, give yourself a good amount of time to do this. Check spelling, grammar and coherence. Do not forget to check that your referencing is correct; whenever you have quoted or paraphrased someone else’s thoughts it must be referenced.
Harvard Style Referencing
This is the preferred style of referencing we prefer students to use within their written assessments. Citations should be used within the main body of text by following these guidelines
(Author/Editors Surname, Year of Publication, Page Number)
Author (Year of Publication, Page Number) discusses......
The reference list which follows any written piece of work should be written in the following format;
Author/Editors Surname, Initials. (Year of Publication). Title of Book in Italics. (Edition if not the first.) Place of Publication: Publisher.
If you are referencing the chapter of a book then you must reference the author of the chapter;
Author of Chapter, Initials. (Year of Publication). ‘Title of Chapter in single quotes’ in Title of Book in Italics. (Edition if not the first.) Place of Publication: Publisher, Page reference.
For journal articles in printed journals;
Author/Editor Surname, Initials. (Year of Publication). ‘Title of Article in single quotes’ Title of Journal in Italics. Volume, part no, month or season, page reference.
For journal articles in e-journals;
Author/Editor surname, Initials. (Year of Publication). ‘Title of Article in single quotes’ Title of Journal in Italics. Volume, part no, month or season, page reference Name of Collection in Italics [Online] Available at: URL or Web Address (Accessed: date in round brackets).