Humanities vs sciences

Recognising differences

A history joke

A popular joke in History departments goes as follows:

Question: “Why are History articles longer than English Literature ones?”
Answer: “Because they’ve got more facts in them.”

Whether or not this has any basis in fact is open to debate but it gives a useful clue to the fact that different subjects have different writing styles and different expectations about what makes an effective piece of writing.

It is always dangerous to generalise but it would be fair to say that some subjects place more emphasis on interpretation and judgement and others place more emphasis on evidence and facts.

This part of the guide will give you some ways to think about the differences between essays for different disciplines.