I want help with writing essays

All essays have the same 3 basic parts: Introduction, Main Body and Conclusion. However, the Main Body may be structured in many different ways, depending on the type of essay you are writing, the discipline in which you are studying and the way you organise the content.

In order to write a good essay, you need many different kinds of knowledge and skill. For example, you need to know what type of essay the lecturer is expecting you to write – e.g. analytical? persuasive? critical?

  • For analytical, persuasive and critical essays you need to relate data to an analytical framework and/or find a new way of organising and relating data or ideas.
  • For persuasive and critical essays, you also need to be able to take a position or point of view, break it into individual claims and provide the right kind of evidence for those claims.
  • For a critical essay you also need to be able to take a position or point of view on someone else’s work or on an existing debate, by finding problems or alternatives.

As well as knowing which type of essay to write, you also need other skills for

  • planning a good Main Body structure and clear paragraph structure
  • appropriate referencing
  • and academic language.

Here are some strategies for building up your essay writing skills:

  • Ask your lecturer or tutor for feedback on your draft so you can improve it before handing in your essay. (Some markers will give feedback on a draft, some won’t.)
  • Ask your lecturer or tutor for more feedback on your marked essay: e.g. in their consultation hour.
  • Try and find examples of good essays to see what you are aiming for. Some departments, schools or lecturers keep examples of good essays which you can look at. You could ask them about this.
  • Discuss your essay ideas, markers’ feedback and your writing process with other students.
  • Attend a Learning Centre workshop (see links on the right).
  • Ask Learning Centre staff if you can do a short writing test for a ‘diagnosis’ of your writing. Alternatively, ask for an appointment to show Learning Centre staff one of your essays, preferably with your marker’s feedback. (Note: we cannot help you proofread or edit a draft essay.)
  • Search online and/or in the library: there are a lot of different resources on essay writing.

For more on this topic, see the links on the right...