Essay Writing: Structure
One of the more difficult elements to get right in an essay is structure. This is particularly important in what are quite short pieces of writing, where a few hundred words makes a significant difference in what can be said (for instance, a first year undergraduate essay of 1500-2000 words is different from a Postgraduate piece of 3000-4000 words).
Basic Essay Structure
The structure of your essay should be as simple and straightforward as possible. Essays are not being assessed on how complicated and verbose you are in your essays- simple, direct language, in a clear and logical structure, are key.
A typical essay will have three main sections: an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.
All pieces of written work should have an introduction. In an essay it is vital for two reasons:
1) It shows the marker that you clearly understand the task that has been set. (Remember misunderstanding the question is the quickest way to fail an essay.)
2) It tells the marker how you are going to address the topic, outlining the structure of your essay. (It should also help you to think about organising your arguments.)
The introduction should be simple, clear and straightforward.
Let’s say you were being asked to write an essay on the topic ‘Do aliens exist?’ An introduction to such a topic might go:
‘This essay is about the existence or otherwise of aliens. It begins by defining what is meant by ‘aliens’, and then evaluates the evidence for and against their existence. The evaluation will look first at evidence from eyewitnesses of UFOs and alien abductions. It then examines the scientific evidence against the existence of aliens visiting earth, before discussing the scientific evidence for the existence of alien life elsewhere in the universe.’
Essays without introductions, or well written introductions, are difficult to follow, are usually poorly structured, and.