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STAY AHEAD AUTUMN PROGRAMME 2011 . Essay writing. Sara Steinke. Aims of the session. Approaching writing your essay in a systematic manner Understanding the question Producing a first draft – writing introductions, conclusions and paragraphs

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aims of the session
Aims of the session
  • Approaching writing your essay in a systematic manner
  • Understanding the question
  • Producing a first draft – writing introductions, conclusions and paragraphs
  • Presenting your final draft – style / presentation / referencing
  • Reflecting upon your present strengths in essay writing, the areas for improvement that you are hoping for and the strategies that work best for you
think about the following
Think about the following

1. What do you think is a ‘good’ essay?

2. Why do you write essays?

3. What is your experience of writing essays? Think about your strengths and the areas of improvement that you are hoping for.

what is a good essay
What is a ‘good’ essay?
  • Structure
  • Effective paragraphing
  • Considers the reader
  • Evidence of research around the topic
  • Addresses the question
  • Adheres to style / presentation requirements
  • Uses quotes and correct referencing
  • Applies critical thinking / reading / writing
why write essays
Why write essays?
  • Deepens your learning of the subject
  • You learn to use ideas to arguea case
  • Enables you to extend and refine your critical thinking and writing skills
  • Allows you to demonstrate your academic progress
  • Different situations – coursework and exam essays
  • Because you have to!
stages of essay writing adapted from cottrell s 2008 176 177
Stages of essay writingAdapted from Cottrell, S. (2008: 176-177)

Clarify task

Collect and record information

Feedback

Final draft

Organise and plan

Reflect and evaluate

Review first draft

Outline and first draft

analysing the question
Analysing the question
  • Not answering the question is one of the key pitfalls in essay writing
  • Essay questions can be broken down into:
  • Its topic
  • Any restriction / expansionto the topic
  • The aspect / angle you are asked to consider
  • Instructions you need to follow

An analysis of the changes in US policy towards

China during the 1970s.

class activity
Class activity

Break the following questions down into their:

  • topic
  • any restriction /expansion to the topic
  • aspect/angle you are asked to consider
  • instructions you need to follow
  • A comparison and contrast of the effects of overcrowding in the developed world.
  • An outline of the requirements for declaring bankruptcy in French law.
  • Trace the origins of the civil rights movement in Texas.
introductions
Introductions
  • Aim of the essay – use phrases like ‘This essay will evaluate… / assess… / discuss… / compare and contrast…’
  • Background material and content / define key terms
  • Narrow the focus of the essay
  • Outline the structure of essay
  • Make your thesis statement
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Summary of the main points raised – refer directly to the question
  • Recommendations – and justifications for recommendations
  • Points of consideration for future research / analysis

Do not present new material / ideas

in your conclusion

rearrange these sentences to form a paragraph
Rearrange these sentences to form a paragraph

A. Later on, people began to write on pieces of leather which were rolled into scrolls.

B. In the earliest times, people carved or painted messages on rocks.

C. In the Middle Ages, heavy paper called parchment was used for writing, and books were laboriously copied by hand.

D. With the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century, the modern printing industry was born.

E. Some form of written communication has been used throughout the centuries.

answer
Answer

E Some form of written communication has been used throughout the centuries.

BIn the earliest times, people carved or painted messages on rocks.

A Later on, people began to write on pieces of leather which were rolled into scrolls.

CIn the Middle Ages, heavy paper called parchment was used for writing, and books were laboriously copied by hand.

D With the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century, the modern printing industry was born.

slide15

When to reference

1. Distinctive ideas

2. Distinctive structure or organizing strategy

3. Information or data from a particular source

4. Verbatim phrase or passage

5. Anything that’s not common knowledge

6. Finally, if in doubt, cite!

where to reference
Where to reference

Direct / in-text quotes

(used in essay)

Bibliography(end of essay)

content editing proof reading
Content editing / proof reading
  • Have you answered the question title?
  • Have you used relevant material?
  • Do you show a good grasp of the ideas?
  • Have you presented a coherent argument?
  • Is the essay written in an objective, analytical way, with appropriate use of illustration and evidence?
  • Is the essay clearly written and well presented?
reflective learning
Reflective learning
  • Write down the three most important

things that you have learnt / thought about in

this session? Why were they important to you?

2. Are there any areas of improvement that

you need to take action on? If so, what are

you doing to do to improve this aspect

of your learning?

recap of the session
Recap of the session
  • Approached writing your essay in a systematic manner
  • Understood the importance of addressing the question
  • Looked at writing introductions, conclusions and paragraphs
  • Considered style / presentation / referencing
  • Reflected upon your present strengths in essay writing, the areas for improvement that you are hoping for and the strategies that work best for you
slide20

Useful reading

Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, 3rd Edition (Palgrave Macmillan, London) chapter 8 ‘Writing for university’ pp.167-200 and chapter 9 ‘Developing your writing’ pp.201-224

Northedge, A. (2007) The Good Study Guide (Open University Press, Milton Keynes) chapter 10 ‘Writing the way ‘they’ want’ pp.245-295 and chapter 11 ‘Managing the writing process’ pp.296-335

Crème, P. (1997) Writing at University(Open University Press, Milton Keynes)

Redman P (2001) Good Essay Writing (Sage, London)

Useful websites

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck

/services/facilities/support/essay-writing (online resources available on the Birkbeck Library website)

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck

/get-ahead-stay-ahead/skills/writing-skills

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck

/get-ahead-stay-ahead/skills/structuring_writing

(Get ahead Stay ahead interactive tutorials)

http://www.palgrave.com/skills4

study/studyskills/reading/essay.asp(website supporting the Palgrave MacMillan study skills books)

example of a strong conclusion
Example of a strong conclusion

Question: Urbanisation in Developing countries

To conclude, it seems that urbanisation is, and will remain a

problem in developing countries unless international

organisations, governments and urban planners put more

effect into saving the situation. On the other hand,

governments should stop the ‘urban bias’ approach and

concentrate on decentralising amenities all over the country. If

the government does not do this, they should know that while

the cities grow, the rural base on which they depend may be

eaten away. It should also be noted that by the time the

population stabilises, the rural population will have become a

minority.

slide22

Summary of the main points raised – refer directly to the questionRecommendations – and justifications for recommendationsPoints of consideration for future research / analysis Urbanisation in Developing countries

To conclude, it seems that urbanisation is, and will remain a

problem in developing countries unless international

organisations, governments and urban planners put more

effect into saving the situation. On the other hand,

governments should stop the ‘urban bias’ approach and

concentrate on decentralising amenities all over the country. If

the government does not do this, they should know that while

the cities grow, the rural base on which they depend may be

eaten away. It should also be noted that by the time the

population stabilises, the rural population will have become a

minority.

example of strong introductory paragraph
Example of strong introductory paragraph

Question: Discuss the causes of the American Civil War

Almost as soon as the Civil War ended, Americans began to

search for a way to understand the reasons for a bitter

conflict. Even today, strong feelings and personal bias influence

debate over the causes of the war. Because the years leading up to

the war were characterised by growing conflicts over a series of

political and economic disagreement between the Northern and

the Southern states, it is difficult to isolate individual causes of the

war. It is easy to assume that the main cause of the war was

disagreement over slavery simply because the outcome of the war

had such dramatic effects on the institution of slavery. In fact,

disagreement between the north and the south over tariffs and

states’ rights was a more significant cause of the civil war that

were opposing views about slavery.

slide24

Green: Background informationBlue:Author explains aim and how it relates with current discussion of warRed: Thesis statementDiscuss the causes of the American Civil War

Almost as soon as the Civil War ended, Americans began to search for a way to

understand the reasons for a bitter conflict

Even today, strong feelings and personal bias influence debate over the causes of the war.

Because the years leading up to the war were characterised by growing conflicts over a series of political and economic disagreement between the Northern and the Southern states, it is difficult to isolate individual causes of the war.

It is easy to assume that the main cause of the war was disagreement over slavery simply because the outcome of the war had such dramatic effects on the institution of slavery.

In fact, disagreement between the north and the south over tariffs and states’ rights was a more significant cause of the civil war that were opposing views about slavery.