There are many different types of essays, but they have several common features that make them straightforward to plan and execute – if you follow the guidelines.
An essay is a piece of writing where you present your opinion, backed up by evidence, in response to a topic. This opinion is referred to as ‘your contention, position or thesis statement’.
Good essays must contain the following:
- A strong contention, supported by ideas, arguments and evidence
- The summary and analysis of other writers’ research and opinions
- A clear structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion
- A reference list.
Always leave enough time to prepare yourself for writing an essay: you will need to complete the required reading (both from your classes and wider sources), decide on your point of view, brainstorm keywords and concepts, and draft an outline of the contents of your paragraphs.
If you’ve got an essay to do but you’re not sure where to begin, a good place to start is our Academic Skills Guide to essay writing. It contains information and resources on how to write an essay, including a guide to paragraph structure, a paragraph planner and a handy explanation of the steps of the writing process. Have a read if you’re looking for detailed guidance about an aspect of essay writing, or about essays more generally.
We also have Academic Skills Guides for other types of assignments, such as reports and reflective pieces, as well as researching, referencing, oral presentations and exam preparation.