While there are different types of written assignments, most academic writing has a similar structure comprising of:

  • Introduction—acts as a roadmap for the reader.
  • Body—presents points to support your argument.
  • Conclusion—summarises main points discussed.

The introduction helps your reader understand where you’re going in your assignment, how you will get there and what they will see along the way.

An introduction should include:

  • topic sentence—outline the most important concepts relevant to answering the question
  • aim—indicate the focus or purpose of the assignment
  • scope—mention any limits of your assignment. What will you emphasise? Will you intentionally leave anything out?
  • structure—signal how you will present information in the assignment, and the order the key points will appear
  • thesis statement—clearly identify your argument.

Example

Online social media network websites allow users to interact with other users creating and sharing content. These social networking websites (SNWs) allow students to create thousands of pieces of content and share it with other users, while educational institutions are using some of these sites and applications to build learning communities with their students. There are several issues related to this increased interaction, namely the ethical use of social media within an educational environment. Two implications of social media will be discussed, focussing on the higher education sector. SNW’s will be defined, and the issues of student privacy related to individual expression and communication in educational forums will be examined. Overall it will be argued that it is imperative for the educational sector, staff and students, to become informed around the privacy issues involved in the use and application of SNWs.

The body consists of paragraphs structured to reflect your critical thinking about the question and the chosen order for presenting your argument.

Each paragraph should include:

  • topic sentence—starts each paragraph and expresses the main idea of the paragraph
  • evidence and examples—contains explanations to support the key point of the paragraph. Supporting evidence is used to justify, explain or develop your argument.
  • concluding sentence—links the main idea of the paragraph back to your argument and to the assignment topic.

The number of paragraphs in your essay will depend upon the length of your essay, and the number of points you wish to argue.

Example

Facebook accounts hold large amounts of personal information of its users and, given the recent data breaches, it is crucial that users understand how to secure personal information. However, research indicates that many users are unaware of how to change the default privacy settings and, therefore, they themselves less secure online (Bones, 2016; Markesh & Pashley 2015). Munoz (2018) contends that at the heart of this dilemma is the fact that private information becomes public once released to a wider social media platform, and consequently, the user loses control over that information. Issues related to this loss include identity theft, cybercrime and inappropriate behaviour such as online stalking and bullying (Gross & Acquisti, 2018). In order to protect and manage online privacy and security, it is important for user to become digitally literate with each social media platform, whether they are being used for personal, professional, or academic reasons.

The conclusion comes at the end of your assignment, summarising the main points discussed.

Importantly, your conclusion should:

  • contain no new ideas or information
  • briefly list your key points
  • relate main points directly back to the question or argument.

You might also make future recommendations, evaluate your argument or forecast patterns of change.

Example

In conclusion this essay has looked at two implications related to the use of social networking websites in the higher education sector. One implication is personal information and online interaction becomes public once it is published online. This implies that staff and students need to become digitally literate in order to interact in an educational setting. Secondly, this essay has raised the challenges of Facebook infrastructure when it comes to implementing social networking into the classroom. Overall, it argues that staff and students need to be aware of the ethical implications of using Facebook in the classroom.

Academic integrity

As you prepare for your assignment, be sure to produce honest work so as not to breach academic integrity.

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