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Essay Writing

2124 words - 9 pages

CMM 801: Journalism and Communication Theory

Academic Essay Writing

An essay is best approached as an intellectual argument that develops from the ideas, issues, theories, concepts, methodologies, etc., you have been taught within the module for which it is the final assessment. It is most important therefore – even as you begin and then progress through the module – that you are clear about the fundamental perspectives, values and assumptions underpinning the course’s main themes and topics as they are being presented to you in lectures and seminars. Remember no theory or perspective has the whole picture. All accounts of the world are partial and biased from a particular ...view middle of the document...

How do these particular ways of thinking require you to view the world, especially the nature of relationships between different individuals and groups? Who are the key thinkers in this area? What evidence do they call upon to support their theories? What predictions are there, in theory, for what you should find as an expression of the issue in different contexts?
• Maybe, though, you will take two slightly different positions within this overarching perspective (again check your lecture notes for these). Or perhaps you will choose to tackle the question from two contrasting perspectives? If so, is there anything that is common for how the social world is being understood and explained in these differing views? Plus, of course, what is contrastingly different? Are there contextual factors (isolate them) that cause social institutions or constructs, which are often thought of as having universal meaning, to be experienced differently (e.g., marriage, policing, gender)? Or are the fundamental assumptions in alternative theories about the way the world works so radically distinct from each other that they are presenting completely different models of reality?

The Formula
This formula (of 8 paragraphs) assumes that your essay has a limit of 1700-2000 words. For longer assignments the breakdown of sections is similar, but scaled up for the number of paragraphs you feel you need to realise each part.
Para 1 – Introduction
Main Text: Paras 2 and 3 – Theoretical overview and general comments relevant to the perspective you are going to employ in the following section
Paras 4 and 5 – Discuss in closer detail, possibly including the use of empirical data and case studies, how the perspective(s) discussed in Paras 2 & 3 help to examine the key issues raised in the title of the essay as they are experienced in specific contexts

Paras 6 and 7 – Critique the argument you have just made, including a discussion of the limits and constraints of the claims the theory and supporting evidence can provide. Are you going to offer an alternative view (with supporting evidence) or are you going to speculate on how the existing perspective needs to be refined? Sum up to a closing position.

Para 8 – Conclusion.


A useful way to open your essay is to consider some, or all, of the following,
1. Rewrite, and expand on, the essay title using your own different words (this helps you to identify the essential CLAIM/ASSERTION in the question and provides an easy to read opening to the essay)

2. PROBLEMATIZE the whole or parts of the question (is there an element of the question which can be contested?)

3. CONTEXTUALIZE the main issue (how have these issues/concerns come about, and in what circumstances?)

4. Suggest a PERSPECTIVE(S) you have selected as being of possible use for framing the argument you are going to develop in the main section, (i.e., what theoretical approach(es) are you taking, and as a result what concepts...

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