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How do I write my Essay?

Industrial design
Industrial design

While the language you use in your essay should be formal and precise, writing is a creative act. This means that although you should adhere to appropriate academic conventions, your words don't have to be flat and dull. Think about how you are writing as well as what you are writing and use your creativity to add colour and interest to your prose.

As you write, keep referring back to the essay topic or question to ensure your words and ideas are relevant.

Keep in mind the purpose and audience of the essay. While it might seem that the purpose of writing any essay is to pass a unit of study, you are really being asked to locate and assimilate a range of resources, develop an argument and demonstrate your knowledge of a particular topic. A careful check of your marking guide or assessment criteria will reveal other important aspects on which you are being assessed. Again, it is useful to refer to the criteria as you write and edit your essay.

The Handbook for Studying in the Department of Theory of Art & Design opens in a new window has some great advice about the appropriate use of sources. It is generally best to paraphrase rather than quote heavily from your secondary sources. On some occasions, however, a well placed (and correctly referenced!) quotation will add emphasis to your argument. Be cautious with your use of quotations.

Compare the following two examples. Which do you think is best?

The rhythmic, flowing forms and the small areas of warm tones that penetrate the black surface in Max Ernst's War of Two Roses create an almost romantic feeling that neutralises the harsh characteristics. This adds to the mysterious quality of this dream world, allowing a psychological insight into the unconscious mind. "[Surrealist] artists turn our attention to the faculty of imagination and its capacity for visionary experience and heightened sensation." 1 This is particularly evident in the work of Max Ernst.

The rhythmic, flowing forms and the small areas of warm tones that penetrate the black surface in Max Ernst's War of Two Roses create an almost romantic feeling that neutralises the harsh characteristics. This adds to the mysterious quality of this dream world, allowing a psychological insight into the unconscious mind. Indeed, the work of Surrealist artists often highlights "the faculty of imagination and its capacity for visionary experience and heightened sensation." 1 This is particularly evident in the paintings of Max Ernst.

1 C. Rabinovitch, Surrealism and the sacred, (Boulder, CL: Westview Press, 2004), p.8.

Good writing takes time. Be prepared to redraft your essay to revise and refine it. Taking pride in your work means editing and proofreading it carefully.

Make no mistake, lecturers can tell the diffrenece between those students who take the time to improve their work and those who do not.

To learn more about writing great essays, have a look at some of the other pages on Language and Learning Online.

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