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Essay Writing: Essays

Purpose of Essays

The purpose of an essay is to present a logical, reasoned argument in response to a question/topic.

Why essays?

In all probability, you will be expected to write at least one essay during your degree. Why? Essays are an opportunity to demonstrate the advanced cognitive skills that students come to university to learn. To write an essay, you will need to read relevant academic literature and grasp the arguments being made - some of which you will find more convincing than others. You will then use your reading to develop a view on the essay question and express that view in the form of a coherent argument.

In writing an essay, you are not attempting to express the 'correct' answer to the question, but to demonstrate that you are familiar with a range of views and are able to develop and defend your own view. 

Stages of essay writing

Don't leave essay writing to the last minute! 

Writing an essay is a process that needs time and thought. It can be seen as a process consisting of the following stages: 

  1. Generating ideas
  2. Research
  3. Devising an argument and developing criticality
  4. Structuring your essay

These stages are addressed in the tabs of this guide.

General Guide to Writing an Essay

This video guides you through the various stages of writing an essay, from breaking down the assignment question to editing and proofreading before submission.