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Module 1: Grammar Module 2: Sources Module 3: Structure
Home » Module 3 Unit 3: Introductions & conclusions » Writing your introduction - page 2/4
Unit 1: Planning your essayUnit 2: Structuring paragraphsUnit 3: Introductions & conclusionsUnit 4: Writing persuasivelyUnit 5: Writing cohesively

Typical components of an introduction

A well-written essay introduction contains at least three components: an orientation, a purpose statement and a thesis statement. It is good practice to include a fourth component – an overview – but this is sometimes omitted in shorter essays (around 1500-2000 words).

The components usually occur in the order in which they are presented here.

Component Function
Orientation to the topic To provide the reader with the general background to, or the context of, the essay topic.
Aim/purpose statement To state the purpose of the essay.
Thesis statement To state the position that will be argued or the proposition that will be debated.
Overview To preview the stages through which the essay and its arguments will develop.

Depending on the wording of the essay question, essay introductions sometimes require additional components.

Component Function
Acknowledgement of quote This is required when there is a direct quote contained in the essay question. It shows the reader that you are acknowledging the quote as the starting point for your answer.
Statement of scope This tells the reader exactly what the limits or parameters of your response to the question will be. This is required when the essay question gives you a choice of areas to cover. You choose and let the reader know which areas you have chosen. Sometimes a choice of areas to be covered is not given. However, you may decide to limit the areas you are going to discuss, perhaps because the question is very wide-ranging and you know you cannot discuss every aspect of it. It is a good idea to discuss any limits you yourself choose to impose on your answer with your lecturer before you do this.

Note: The components of your introduction do not all have to be in separate sentences. Sometimes a single sentence can contain more than one component.