You’ve unpacked the topic, gathered information, and now you’re ready to write your assignment.
Most academic writing has a similar structure. Whether it’s an essay, a case study or a literature review, you will have to write an introduction, body and conclusion.
An introduction acts as a ‘roadmap’ to your reader. It helps them to understand where you are going in your assignment, how you will get there, and what they will see along the way. There are several distinct parts to an introduction:
- Introducing the topic or subject area - The main aim of the first part of any introduction is to introduce the topic or subject area, and the most important concept(s) relevant to answering the question.
- Aim or purpose - Indicate the aim or purpose of the assignment
- Structure or overall plan - Signal how you will present information in the assignment. In what order will the key points appear?
- Limits or scope of the assignment - Mention any limits of your assignment. What will you emphasise? Will you be intentionally leaving anything out?
- Argument or thesis statement - The final part of the introduction needs to clearly identify your argument or thesis statement. Some useful ways to signal your argument include: ‘This paper argues that…’; This essay contends that…’; ‘It will be argued that…’.
The body is where you make points to support your argument. It consists of paragraphs structured to reflect your critical thinking about the question and the chosen order for presenting your argument.
Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, a body, and a concluding sentence. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence. This is just a sentence that expresses the main idea of the paragraph.
The body of the paragraph contain explanations, evidence and examples to support the key point of the paragraph. Supporting evidence is used to justify, explain or develop your argument.
A concluding sentence links the main idea of the paragraph back to your argument and to the assignment topic.
The conclusion is a summary of all the main points discussed in the assignment. It is also where recommendations may be made, your argument is evaluated, or future patterns of change are forecast.
Importantly, your conclusion should:
- Contain no new ideas or information;
- List your key points, briefly; and
- Relate key points directly back to the question/argument.