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Stage 4.5 A basic essay structure.

HEAT Stage 4: Planning the structure of your assignment.


Every essay title contains an explicit or implicit question. Your essay should focus on answering that question. Try rewriting the title so that it is a question.


INTRODUCTION: (about 10% of the essay)

  1. Explain how you interpret the title
  2. What issues/topics are you going to explore?
  3. What will be your focus?
  4. What will your essay show?


MAIN BODY (about 80% of the essay)

Use a chain of paragraphs to EXPLORE AND DEVELOP your ideas/argument.


You will probably have 4 or 5 main topics.

Each topic will need 3 or 4 paragraphs in which you will introduce the topic, and present examples and evidence to show why it is important and how it links to the essay title


In each paragraph the reader is asking you to explain:

  • What is this paragraph about?
  • What is your argument on this?
  • What is your evidence? What does it mean?
  • How does it link to the essay title?
  • How does it link to the topic in the next paragraph?


CONCLUSION (about 10% of the essay)

  • Do not introduce any NEW material here.
  • Summarise your ideas/argument (you might also have done this in your introduction)
  • Restate what you consider to be the main points
  • Make it clear why those conclusions are important or significant.
  • In your last sentence: link your conclusions or recommendations back to the title.

Some students find it helpful to write a rough conclusion first, before they write the essay, so they know where they're going. They rewrite it, if necessary, when they've finished reviewing and editing the essay


Reference List

Use the Harvard Referencing System to list all the books, articles, materials you have referred to in your essay

  • AUTHOR (date) Title. Town; Publisher.
  • Page numbers.
  • In alphabetical order by author's surname.


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