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Theology & religious studies. Introduction to Essay Writing Wendy Smeets Write Now CETL. The writing process. Analyse the question - identify key instruction words, the topic/s and specific aspects to be discussed.

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theology religious studies

Theology & religious studies

Introduction to Essay Writing

Wendy Smeets

Write Now CETL

the writing process
The writing process
  • Analyse the question - identify key instruction words, the topic/s and specific aspects to be discussed.
  • Research the topic - use sources supporting and contradicting your opinion.
  • Plan the essay - organise key ideas and related themes, taking into consideration format restrictions and word limits.
  • Write the essay - construct these ideas into the key elements of an essay.
  • Referencing of sources – check you are using the Harvard system correctly.
possible task brief
Possible task brief:

“Do you have to be a Christian to be a Christian Theologian?"

2 research the topic
2. Research the topic:

Planning stage


- analyse the task

- brainstorm - group your ideas

- read additional source materials

- outline the essay

Writing Stage


- write the first version of your first draft

- write your second version – making structural changes if necessary

- proof-read and edit – checking grammar, spelling and format.

- submit first draft.

3 plan the essay
3. Plan the essay:

1) Brainstorm

2) Group

3) Outline

sample outline
Sample outline:


thesis statement & main points

Theme 1: 1 main point & supporting evidence

Theme 2

Theme 3

Conclusion: summarise & paraphrase

4 writing the essay
4. Writing the essay:

University assignments require students to analyse material rather than simply describe or recount.

The writing style is formal and impersonal, taking into account the use of non-discriminatory language and other conventions.

5 providing evidence
5. Providing evidence:

In text referencing


in text referencing
In text referencing:

An example of footnote referencing1

Camperdown Cemetery in Newtown, Sydney is considered one of Australia's most historically significant cemeteries2.

1 J. Flello, (unpub.) A Survey of Camperdown Cemetery.2 C. Lucas. State Heritage, State Heritage Inventory - Item View, (updated 10 December, 1999, accessed 10 May, 1999).

using source material
Using source material:

Please refer to the text by David Ford Theology: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2000), pps.16 - 18.

How would you be able to use this text in your essay to talk about the different types of institution at which one can study theology?

sample answer
Sample answer:

Ford1 described three types of institution at which theology can be studied. He argues that the best approach is to find an institution that combines theology with religious studies.

1David Ford, Theology: a very short introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2000), pps.16 - 18.

  • Alphabetical order by author
  • Bagby, John W. Cyberlaw Handbook for E-Commerce. New York: Harcourt Brace, 2003.
  • Heller, Chris, and Andrea Gottlieb. "Gender Roles in Ethiopian Culture." In Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, edited by Sherry Collier, 45-56. Louisville, KY: Pilgrim Press, 2001.
further resources
Further resources:
  • Tutorials with peer mentors & writing specialists
  • Help sheets & Handbooks

contact details
Contact details: