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Assignment breakdown

Well, it may sound obvious but it's worth repeating.... READ your assignment instructions carefully.

Identify the active verbs in the learning outcomes for each module. These indicate what you will be expected to do to demonstrate that you have met those objectives.

Keep these in mind as you start thinking about your assignment.  What do you need to find out? What supporting information is required?

Misinterpreting the assignment question is one of the most common ways to lose marks and it can easily be avoided.


Types of assignments

Assignment types indicate to you the style and structure which your teacher expects the information you are presenting to be in.

Typical assignment types include:

  • Essays
  • (Academic) Poster
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Reflection

For more information see the Guide Types of Assignment.

Planning your assignment

diagram showing whiteboard to plan a project


  • What information needs to be included?
  • What are my main arguments going to be?


  • Why am I writing this paper?  This will help to determine the scope of the paper, the level to pitch it (this is not a dissertation or a book you are writing) at and its length-quite apart from the word count.


  • What is the point in me writing this paper? Why is it interesting? Why does this topic deserve to be re-examined or looked at in such detail? The answer to these questions can help you in writing your introduction. 
  • From what angle am I going to examine the topic?  This should also be made explicit in your introduction.  You might give a brief overview of your topic and then assert the approach that you will take.


  • Who will read the paper?
  • What do they want to learn?
  • Why do they need the information?

Answering these questions will give you a sound framework in which to develop a useful search strategy