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Essay - ATK

Essay structure

Academic essays usually follow the standard structure that is summarized in this section. Information about how to structure the essay in relation to the course module that you are working on will be given in the accompanying course information on the VLE for that module (Learn). In particular, you should pay attention to the marking and assessment criteria as guidance for content and structure. Generally academic essays contain five main sections:

  • Title page or cover sheet (student information, course information,
    title of essay / essay question) – separate page
  • Introduction (approx. 5-10%)
  • Main body of the essay (approx. 80-90%)
  • Conclusion (approx. 5-10%)
  • Reference list – separate page – (see Referencing and Citations)

The essay itself is divided into three parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Main Body
  3. Conclusion

General background on the topic you are going to discuss

Possible definitions for terms relating to the question

What the essay will include and/or leave out (scope)

What themes the essay will discuss and the order they are presented

What the essay will argue / demonstrate (thesis statement)


The following structure can be used for discussion of the themes that you have identified:

T - topic (sentence to introduce the theme or topic of the paragraph)

E - example (you could mention an example here to focus the topic)

S - support (bring in supporting information from your research / eg. theory, research studies, statistics, legislation, professional guidelines, examples from practice)

T - talk about the ideas (strengths, weaknesses, importance, relevance, usefulness, comparison to other ideas). Evaluation and critical discussion of the supporting materials and how they relate to the question under scrutiny - keep the discussion focused on answering the question in the essay title


Links back to the themes identified in the introduction

A reminder of what the essay has argued

A recap of the main themes that have been discussed

A summary of the most important points made in the essay

Speculation on future developments in the area that the essay has discussed

(Generally new ideas and citations should not be included in a conclusion)