Planning and structure

Main bodies: what they do

Main points about main bodies

In your main body, you develop your argument by using ideas, opinions, facts, evidence, theories, models, quotations from primary texts and quotations from authorities and experts.

In your main body you work through key points and support them with evidence. You bring together different ideas about the same subject and let them have a conversation with each other which you mediate.

Structuring your main body

How you structure the main body of your essay will depend on what sort of essay title you have and what sort of argument you are trying to make.

If you want to find out about different sorts of writing, go to Different Varieties of Essay, Different Varieties of Writing.

Click on ‘Making an Argument’ on the side bar to learn more about argument.

Some things the main body can do

Present arguments, points and theories in favour of and against the main proposition of the essay – with supporting evidence.

Give an overview of the main issue, topic or proposition and then work through the main issue’s key components.

Explore strengths and weaknesses in the main proposition of the essay. This is particularly useful for titles that ask you to ‘discuss’ or ‘evaluate’.

Identify and outline differences and similarities between two or more ideas, theories or views.

Review theories about a subject and then present examples or case studies to show which theories are most useful.

Use critics or theorists as a starting point for your own more detailed discussion. “Jane Smith argues that the essence of Hardy’s poetry is . . . but when we look at ‘The Darkling Thrush’ the first thing that strikes us is . . .”

The scientific model

You might find it helpful to think about the main body in terms of the standard structure for scientific papers.

Materials and Methodology.This is where scientists explain how they got their data or evidence. So, in a media studies essay on the representation of women in soap operas you might start by reviewing different theories of representation. You might also talk briefly about the history of female characters in soap operas.

Results. This is where scientists analyse the data in detail. In the same media studies essay, you might explore the usefulness of these theories by applying them to a selection of soap operas and prominent female characters.

Discussion. This is where scientists say what their findings mean. In the soap opera essay, you might discuss what applying theories of representation to soap operas reveals about the representation of women.