Essays must be word processed on A4 paper, doubled spaced with 2.5cm margins and at least 11 point font size; pages should be numbered; a word count should be provided.

Depending on the module, the word limit for your essay may vary. All word limits can be found on the module outlines, available through Blackboard (MOLE). You have a 10 per cent margin above or below the word limit before you are penalised.

What is the marker looking for......

  • Have you answered the question?
  • Have you structured your answer?
  • Have you supported your argument?
  • Have you expressed yourself well?

Resources and Reading

Before you start writing your essay, you need to do the ground work. There are a number of resources available to you, including but not limited to:

  • Lectures and powerpoint presentations on Blackboard (MOLE)
  • Reading lists – required and supplementary
  • Recommended textbooks listed in the module outline
  • Internet resources
  • Your own sources but proceed with caution…

          – Who is writing and for whom?
          – Where was it published?
          – When?
          – Why?
          – Wikipedia!

Whilst researching....

....always remember the following:

  • Keep the question in mind whilst reading and filter what you are reading through it
  • Make notes from the readings but do so straight away and ensure you know where they come from
  • Don’t ignore conflicting opinions
  • Group your notes together into related categories with your structure and argument in mind
  • Try your arguments out on each other


The essay should order the material in a logical manner. You should consider the following when structuring your answer:

  • Introductions and conclusions
  • One idea per paragraph and connect the paragraphs
  • Strike a balance between demonstrating your reading and arguing your case
  • Do not regurgitate the lecture
  • Length – keep to the word count

In addition to the structure, you need to consider how you use evidence to support your answer. Consider the following points:

  • Handling and quoting from the secondary literature
  • Opinion versus fact
  • Reliance on one source

Expressing yourself...

  • Long sentences do not denote intelligence
  • Write with your reader in mind
  • “Japan”, “The Japanese” – be specific
  • English – apostrophes, contractions, gendered language, first person vs third person, % vs per cent

Word Limits

Word limits are there for a reason. They reflect the scope of the assessment exercise. Essay questions are devised with a word limit in mind, and you should be able to produce a highly effective answer without straying beyond this. If you find that you have difficulty keeping within the word limit, talk to your tutor. It may be that you have misunderstood the question, you are including irrelevant detail, or simply straying from the main point. Learning to write to a specific word limit is a valuable skill to acquire.

You should aim to produce a well-structured argument, expressed in clear and economical prose. It may be tempting to assume that the more you include in your essay the more likely you are to achieve a good mark. For most modules, you have a 10 per cent margin above or below the word limit before you are penalised. Different word limits apply to dissertations - please check module outlines carefully

Your word count should be taken as it appears in the file you submit to Turnitin. Please note that once your essay is uploaded, Turnitin may display a word count that is incorrect.

Word limits may vary from module to module and you should always check the module outline for module specific information.

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