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An essay is a piece of structured narrative writing that analyses and evaluates a topic.

5 things you need to know...

An essay:

  1. Has a definite structure - all essays should have an introduction, main body and conclusion.
  2. Is based upon researched fact not personal opinion - your tutor wants you to interrogate the experts and structure your essay on evidence based facts.
  3. Is precisely and concisely written - you should make every word count and not include any distracting or irrelevant information.  Learn to write precisely and concisely as you develop your vocabulary.  See our Academic Writing, Academic Language and Terms and Definitions factsheets.
  4. Will be assessed against set module learning outcomes which you should have embedded into your assessment brief.  Learn to mark your own work!
  5. Requires proofreading several times for a variety of reasons.  See our Proofreading factsheet.


Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above. 

Related factsheets

Leicester University (2015) Writing Essays (Accessed: August 2019).

University of Reading (2015) Planning and structuring your essay (Accessed: August 2019)

There are many books in the library about this subject . Look around Dewey number 808 OR search the library catalogue. It maybe useful to use an advanced search for example essay writing + science in order to find resources appropriate to your subject.

Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

Make an appointment for an online discussion or email support  by using our online booking form.

Personalising your device and using assistive tools

There are many assistive technology tools which can help you choose how you want to access material and these can really improve your productivity.

The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.