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Module 1: Grammar Module 2: Sources Module 3: Structure
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Unit 1: Planning your essayUnit 2: Structuring paragraphsUnit 3: Introductions & conclusionsUnit 4: Writing persuasivelyUnit 5: Writing cohesively

Overview: introductions & conclusions

Answering the question

The first, vital step towards writing a good essay is interpreting the question correctly. Even if your essay is superbly constructed and well-written, you will have failed to fulfil the requirements of the assessment task if you do not answer the question you have been set.

Structure of an essay

When you come to write your essay you will need to structure it into three parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

The introduction orients the reader to the question you are answering, the scope of your study and your point of view. It introduces the arguments you will develop and the way they will be organised. Because it looks forward to what is to come, after reading the introduction, your reader should have a good idea of what to expect and be curious and interested to read the details of your arguments.

The body of the essay is where your ideas, arguments and evidence on the topic or question are presented. The arguments should be organised carefully to present a strong case to the reader. Evidence you present in support of your arguments should be well thought out, well supported by the sources you have read and referenced correctly. The writing should flow and be coherent.

The conclusion is a summing up of the main points you have made in the body of your essay. It concisely conveys your overall point of view and the arguments you have made to support it. It looks back over the whole essay and should reinforce the claims made in the introduction. A well-written conclusion leaves the readers clear about your point of view and the arguments you have presented. It should also leave them convinced by your scholarship.

Though they have different functions, both the introduction and conclusion are overviews of the body of the essay. As their purpose is to summarise and highlight the points made in the body section, they should not contain new arguments or information.

There should be no contradictions between the information given in the introduction, conclusion, or the body of an essay; otherwise the reader will be confused about your overall position on the topic and the direction of your arguments. All parts of the essay need to work together to make a convincing whole.