Our guidelines on essay-writing.
In almost all kinds of employment, you'll need to write concise, critical and well informed reports. You'll learn this skill through essay writing. A number of courses require you to undertake the writing of an essay as part of their in-course assessment.
We will expect all your written assignments to be word-processed.
Read the title and think carefully through what you are being asked to write about.
Research the topic (your memory; your lecture notes; your textbooks; the library. You may also use material from the internet; however, a note of caution is appropriate here. While information in textbooks and scientific journals has been thoroughly peer-reviewed the same is not necessarily the case of material posted on the internet. It is, therefore, unwise to rely on information obtained from the internet unless it can be corroborated by other sources).
Write a plan: organisation, the order in which you make your points and the way in which you relate them to each other, is the most important aspect of your essay.
Choose examples that illustrate your points.
Check that your plan and examples contain only material that is relevant to the subject.
In writing the essay, keep the introductory paragraph brief; divide the essay into sections and give each section a heading (note how this is done in textbooks); make separate points in separate paragraphs, and keep the paragraphs short; write a brief concluding paragraph if you can, but it should not just be a reiteration of points already made.
You must keep within any set word limit. This is to teach you to make your points concisely.
Check your spelling and punctuation, paying special attention to the most common errors. Also, check that you know how to write scientific names correctly. We will deduct marks for excessive errors in grammar, punctuation or spelling.
Illustrate your essay with large clearly labelled diagrams, but make them informative and relevant. You'll get no credit for drawing a perfect giraffe because we all know what a giraffe looks like! But you would get credit for drawing the details of its markings, or the structure of its legs, if this is relevant to the points you are making in the essay.
Always acknowledge your sources of information, including the source of any diagrams in your essay.
Pay special attention to our guidance on plagiarism. The University imposes serious penalties for plagiarism - the copying of work from another source and presenting it as if it were your own, in an attempt to mislead the examiners.
If you need study skills support, visit the Institute for Academic Development for advice, resources and workshops.