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Essay writing

What is an essay

Essays are used to assess your understanding of specific ideas and your ability to explain these in your own words.

Essays are usually written in a discursive style, bringing together ideas, evidence and arguments to address a specific problem or question.

They follow a particular structure: you will set out your argument in the introduction, build and present your argument in the main body, and should end with your overall key message or argument in the conclusion.

Essays take time to complete. You will need to set aside time for the following stages of writing:

  1. Thinking about the question.
  2. Gathering information and ideas.
  3. Organising your ideas.
  4. Getting something on paper.
  5. Writing a first draft.
  6. Reviewing in light of feedback or reflection.
  7. Producing a final draft.

Take a look at our handy quick guide to essay writing (PDF) for useful tips and techniques for you to apply.

You will find a number of great books on essay writing in the Laidlaw Library, Level 1, under Skills E-5.