Essays

Essays require you to see relationships between concepts and to structure material gathered from a range of different sources in a logical manner. See our visual representation. (PDF 225 KB)

Essay Structure

Introduction

The introduction should introduce your thesis and explain the outline of your essay.

The body

The body of an essay is where your argument is developed.

The conclusion

The conclusion draws your argument together and restates your thesis. It is generally a shorter paragraph than the introduction.

Essay writing

Thesis statement

The thesis statement is the central argument of your essay which offers a position on a topic. The thesis statement is often introduced in an essay with the words, 'This essay will argue …' or 'In this essay I will argue …' A thesis statement always asserts something. It is more than a description of what the essay will do. 'This essay will outline the major factors responsible for unemployment in contemporary Australia' is not a thesis statement because it does not assert anything. 'This essay will argue that government policy is the major cause of unemployment in contemporary Australia,' is a thesis statement because it states a position. The rest of the essay must then demonstrate research which supports the position taken by the thesis statement.

Introduction

The introduction (PDF 136KB) is a clear and detailed map of what is in the essay and is a statement of the writer's position.

An introduction should:

  • Introduce the reader to the topic
  • Set out the general topic area
  • Outline the main ideas
  • Provide a thesis statement.

Main points and paragraph structure

In academic writing, it is important to make sure that your paragraphs are clearly structured. Each paragraph should contain a topic sentence, supporting sentences with evidence and a concluding sentence. An academic paragraph is generally 4-7 sentences long.

Paragraph structure 

A paragraph is a short piece of writing in which all sentences are related.

The first sentence expresses the point of the paragraph and all other sentences expand further on this point. The content of the paragraph therefore develops from a general statement to more specific statements.
 
Paragraphs generally have at least 3 sections:

  1. Main idea: The point/issue of the paragraph is expressed in the first sentence of each paragraph
  2. Explanation: A further explanation/clarification of the point/issue is provided in the next sentence or two
  3. Illustration: The point or issue is supported with indirect quotes/paraphrases in the remaining sentence or sentences

Topic sentence

The topic sentence should introduce the overall topic of your paragraph and is an important way of adding structure to your essay and enables the reader to follow your ideas.

Supporting sentences

Use the supporting sentences to explain the topic of your paragraph in more detail.

While writing this section, refer back to your topic sentence to make sure you don’t go off-track as this can use up valuable word count.

It is important that you don’t make general statements or claims without providing evidence from credible sources. Any references made within your writing need to be referenced appropriately.

Concluding sentence 

Your concluding sentence will summarise the main points within your paragraph and will also link to the next paragraph.

Writing conclusions

A conclusion should:

  • restate the argument without introducing any new information
  • remind the reader of the two or three points which provide the most important support for the argument
  • draw the essay to a close.