Ave British governments been a?tougha or a?toleranta on race and immigration or have they simply a?muddled througha?

8. Paragraphing and topic sentences

In a 2-3000 word essay you will rarely need more than seven or eight paragraphs. Each should start with a a?topica or a?signpost sentencea that is then explored and/or backed up in more detail in the following sentences. Anybody should be able to read the first sentences of each paragraph and have a good idea of what the essay is saying. Donat devote each paragraph to a paraphrase of a particular book or article: this is a classic sign of a weak essay, revealing someone who hasnat actually thought about what he or she is trying to say and is instead simply relying on slabs of text to get them to the word limit (something you donat have to do anyway). In other words, use (in the sense of deploy) your reading; donat simply summarise it and/or let it drive the structure of whatever youave written. You decide the structure and then slot the reading and references in where you want them.
9. Quoting

Use quotes sparingly. Unless itas a killer quote, better to use your own words and then provide a reference to who gave you the idea. Even if you do want to use one, ensure that it adds value to your prose rather than repeating it a and run it naturally into your sentences (i.e. not a?This is proved by a quotation from David Marquand: a?...a?a, but a?as Marquand puts it, a?...a?a). Indent (and leave off the inverted commas) if longer than 35-40 words. If you indent, try 10 point for emphasis. Donat italicise quotes

10. Referencing

This is actually not as hard as it seems but most people donat do it right: nobody quite knows why. Maybe we need to provide you with just one way of doing it and insist on it. Until then, just take a look at the academic journal articles you have read and choose your favourite style (mine is Harvard a the one with in-text brackets a but what the heck) and use it for all your essays. Check with your tutor on each module that he or she doesnat insist on some other style (most do not). Stick with that style wherever possible so you get familiar with it. Main thing is to be consistent. Cite a variety of stuff, of course. However, there is only one answer to the heart-sink, piece-of-string question, a?How many books and articles should I put in the bibliography?a, namely a?However many you need to write a full and engaging answer.a Sorry, but there it is.

11. Conclusion

Itas fine to sum up (briefly) draw the threads together, and remind the reader of your main point. But donat overdo it so you end up repeating yourself. If the essay is a short one, you can assume the marker, unless he or she is a goldfish with dementia, will remember what youave just said. Use it, too, to bring up something thatas interesting, paradoxical, quirky, a moot point, remains to be seen or needs further exploration/research. Basically, try to leave the marker with the impression that you know what youare doing a and that you could have done even more if only the word limit hadnat constrained your genius and your enthusiasm.

12. Introduction

Write this when youave finished! At the very least it should work as a route map for the reader, giving him or her some idea of the ride on which youare going to take them. But it should also grab the reader. Beginning with an arresting quote can work well. And try to move away from horribly laboured stuff like a?In order to answer this question/Before answering this question, the terms X, Y, and Z need to be defineda, unless those definitions are really technical or specialised.

13. Prose-style

Many people have been badly let down by their education system and have never been expected to write good English in order to do well. Well, you are now. If youare worried your writingas not up to snuff, how about buying or borrowing The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing Well or Research Papers For Dummies? I am serious. They donat cost much and they may well help. Whatever, try to avoid the treacly, the tortured and the passive (a?It will be suggested thata etc.). You donat need to use the first person: given that the whole essay is an expression of what you think, phrases like a?I thinka or a?I believea are redundant. Get someone else to read it (you could swap with a friend taking the same module) or read it out loud: would an intelligent and articulate person use words and sentences like yours if she were speaking? If not, make some changes. The Economist is a model, whatever you think of its ideology. And please, learn how to punctuate: get Eats, Shoots and Leaves (or better still the associated workbook) by Lynne Truss. By the way, itas it is a always. Donat make me beg!