How to write a First-class essay and ace your degree
The conclusion of the essay
The function of the essay’s Conclusion is to restate the main argument.
The conclusion should match the introduction in terms of the ideas presented
Essay Question:: Italy on the eve of 1860 has often been described
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Sample written assignments
This page features authentic sample assignments that you can view or download to help you develop and enhance your academic writing skills. They include academic essays, reports, case studies as well as reflective writing.
Many students have consulted with HELPS Advisors over the years and have wanted to view past assignments to guide them in their own writing. The assignments have been provided by staff and students with their consent to demonstrate original pieces of writing.
The sample essays below are divided into specific disciplines to assist you in your writing. They reflect different genres of writing according to the particular task for that assignment e.g. reflective, argumentative, descriptive. Each assignment is annotated with comments on the important elements of writing such as: argument and thesis, sentence and paragraph structure, style and register, transition language, critical thinking, and referencing. Whenever you see a hyperlink, we recommend that you click on it as it will take you to the relevant page on the HELPS website for more detailed information.
We recommend viewing these sample assignments at the beginning of, and during, your course of studies (or subject) so that you have an idea of the way in which your lecturer or tutor would expect you to write both in terms of language and content.
The sample assignments are ideal as a guide for most coursework students and include material from both undergraduate and postgraduate subjects. If you have any questions, you are always welcome to discuss these assignments face-to-face with a HELPS Advisor at the HELPS Centre.
PLEASE NOTE: Annotations/comments included in these sample written assignments are not prescriptive, are intended as an educational guide and are for reference only. All sample assignments have been submitted using Turnitin® (anti-plagiarism software). Under no circumstances should you copy from these or any other texts.
Arts and Social Sciences
Essay: Ideas in History – Postmodernism (PDF, 139kB)
Essay: Ideas in History – The Nurses Walk and Postmodernism (PDF, 98kB)
Essay: Culture is a Tool Used by Management (PDF, 293kB)
Essay: Integrating Business Perspectives – Wicked Problem (PDF, 354kB)
Essay: Overconsumption and Sustainability (PDF, 172kB)
Essay: Post bureaucracy vs Bureaucracy (PDF, 99kB)
Reflective Essay: Simulation Project (PDF, 119kB)
Report: Management Decisions and Control (PDF, 244kB)
Design, Architecture and Building
Essay: The Context of Visual Communication Design – Research Project (PDF, 199kB)
Literature Review: Critical Pedagogy (Harvard-UTS Referencing (PDF, 165kB)
Report: Digital Storytelling (APA Referencing) (PDF, 145kB)
Report: Scholarly Practice (APA Referencing) (PDF, 261kB)
Engineering and Information Technology
Report: Engineering Communication – Flood Mitigation & Water Storage (PDF, 1MB)
Essay: Health – Childhood Obesity (PDF, 159KB)
Essay: Health Services Management – Improving Quality and Safety in Healthcare (PDF, 123kB)
Essay: Health Services Management – Organisational Management in Health Care (V 06.11.18) (PDF, 391kB)
Case Study: Practice Case Study Response with Annotations (PDF, 151kB)
Reflective Essay: Nursing – Professionalism in Context (PDF, 134kB)
Essay: Estoppel Law (PDF, 250kB)
Report: What’s Next after Ethanol? (PDF, 190kB)
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As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites , it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
‘I felt guilty when I got my results’: your stories of buying essays | Guardian readers and Sarah Marsh
The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays . “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
Applying to university? It’s time to narrow your choices down to two
Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero , and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control , which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
Essays for sale: the booming online industry in writing academic work to order
Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
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