Essay Guide

Our comprehensive guide to the stages of the essay development process. Back to Student Resources

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analyse   To separate or break up something into its fundamental elements or component parts. To examine something complex in detail. To find or show the essence or structure of something.

argument      A course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating a truth or falsehood. A set of statements in which one follows logically as a conclusion from the others. The act or process of arguing, reasoning, or discussing. A coherent series of reasons, statements, or facts intended to support or establish a point of view.

body of knowledge      A number of particular items which are regarded as forming a system. A collection of facts.

coherence      The state of being fitted together naturally and consistently with a suitable order, proportion and similarity of tone. The quality or state of having a systematic or methodical connectedness or interrelatedness.

compare      To find the similarities and differences between things.

conclusion      A reasoned judgement or an expression of one which is the necessary consequence of a preceding discussion. A final summing up.

contrast      To examine the differences between things.

critical           Exercising or involving careful judgement or evaluation. Weighing all relevant factors in a discriminating, careful and exact manner.

criticise      To weigh up the good and bad points, the merits and defects, the positive and negative qualities of something.

define      To give the precise meaning of something. To mark or make clear the limits or outline of something. To describe the exact meaning, extent or scope of something.

describe      To give a detailed account of the characteristics of something.

discuss      To investigate something by reasoning or reasoned argument. To argue by presenting the various sides of something. To make a reasoned examination of something, especially through consideration of pros and cons, in an attempt to clarify it.

dissertation      An extended written treatment of a subject. A substantial piece of writing on a subject that shows both mastery of the subject and of scholarly method.

draft [verb]      To make a sketch, outline, plan or preliminary version. To prepare a preliminary version.

draft [noun]      A preliminary outline, sketch or version.

edit      To select, amend and revise elements of a piece of writing in order to make it suitable for publication or public presentation. To alter, adapt or refine something in order to bring it to a required standard or to make it suitable for a particular purpose.

essay      An attempt at something. A composition on a subject, usually short and in prose. An analytic, interpretative or critical piece of writing.

evaluate      To make an appraisal of the worth of something, in the light of its truth or usefulness; and include, to some extent, your personal opinion or the opinions of others.

evidence      Something that provides or contributes to the provision of proof.

explain      To make something plain or understandable in a manner that is clear of complexities or obscurity. To give the reasons for something. To give the meaning or significance of something.

illustrate      To explain with examples or instances.

interpret      To explain the meaning of something.

introduction      A part of a piece of writing that gives comment, explanation, or information that is preparatory or preliminary to the main part of the writing.

justify      To prove or show something is valid, true or sound; to give evidence or reasons for this.

objectivity      The activity, quality or state of being objective i.e. looking at the actual facts of something without your view of the facts being coloured by personal opinion or preference

outline      A preliminary sketch or account of something.

present      To show.

register      The ‘tone of voice’ of a piece of writing that is produced by particular arrangements of words and adjustments to these arrangements. The form of language of a piece of writing e.g. literary, colloquial etc.

relate      To give an account of something. To show the connections between things.

report      To give an account of or express an opinion about something only after the collection and consideration of relevant information.

review      To make a survey of a subject, examining it carefully.

state      To describe the particulars of something in a full and clear manner.

summarise      To give a short account of the main points of something.

synthesise      To combine or put together separate things so that they make a connected whole.

trace      To show the development of something, stage by stage.