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HEAT Stage 1 Getting started.

HEAT Stage 1: Understanding the assignment and getting started.

1.1 Understanding the assignment title: working out what you have to do

Why is it important?


Questions that people may ask when starting an assignment.


This section will help to:

  • Understand what the assignment is looking for
  • Start to consider your ideas

How to work out what the assignment is looking for

Unpick the title


Usually you will have a title or task, and very often this will include:

  • the subject;
  • a keyword (telling you how to write your assignment);
  • the aspect of the subject matter (often a phrase ending in 'of ' );
  • and possibly restrictions (eg., a context for the topic);

See the following example:


Discuss the impact of celebrity culture in the 21st Century.

  • Discuss->KEYWORD
  • impact of->ASPECT
  • celebrity culture->SUBJECT
  • 21st Centure->RESTRICTION


Look at your own title and dissect it, (underline/cut out/separate the words) to identify what is included.  In the title above, the key word is 'discuss', however this could be different, such as: 'describe' or 'evaluate'. 

For further definitions of key words see:'Glossary of academic key words used in titles'.


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Investigate the assignment brief further


You may be provided with further information from your lecturers, such as the assessment criteria or additional information you should refer to.

Key questions to find out:

  • What is the format that is expected of your assignment, a report or essay?
  • What is the word limit?
  • What criteria are being used to assess your work?
  • Are you being referred to specific sources of information?
  • What's the deadline?


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Make the assignment your own


Take time to understand what you are being asked to do, and don't rush into writing straight away.


Record the information you have so far, a mind map with individual words is enough at this stage. Try re-phrasing the title into your own words, this will help you to understand it and prompt ideas for your response.





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